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Taking care of ourselves in this pandemic

AFSC staff share their self-care practices in these difficult times

Snow covers Jon Krieg’s garlic in Iowa. Photo: AFSC

How do people who care deeply for others also care for themselves? That’s always been a question for many of us, including AFSC staff members, but it feels even more relevant during a pandemic when we’re working especially hard to keep people healthy and safe.

Like many of you, our staff are going for walks or exercising in other ways, including finding free community classes online. Others are gardening, making art, and staying connected with their loved ones—a good way to reduce stress and remind us of life’s simple pleasures.

Here are some self-care practices our staff wanted to share with you:  

Mariana Salome Martinez
Community organizer, Miami


“For self-care I continue gardening with my mom and our dog, Dino. We have a couple of tomatoes, lemons, guavas, peppers, bananas, and more tropical fruits in our backyard, and everything has been fruitful through this time. It’s been a great stress relief.”


Shanene Herbert
Healing Justice Program director, Twin Cities, Minnesota


“I’m listening to lots of music and remembering the healing power of good music and dancing. All the free online concerts have been so dope! Part of self-care is also making sure I get out of the lounge clothes/pajamas and get dressed, open the blinds and windows, light incense, and maintain a schedule. Intentionally getting away from my screen and letting my daughter, an emerging make-up artist, practice makeup on me--that’s another way I have decompressed.”


Saif Atari
Youth Technical Specialist, Jordan

“I'm trying my best to keep a consistent weekly schedule in terms of sleep, work and meals. I think it makes a big difference. Also sports gaming and music for sure keep us sane and healthy. I’ve found it useful and only normal to tuck in bed or on the couch a couple of times and acknowledge the difficulty of the situation, and I for sure remind myself of those who are impacted even worse than me. I try to be grateful for what i have and reach out to people remotely for some moral support. I've been following the sunset on a daily basis and find it soothing.” 


Susan Fong
Country representative, China


“Keeping myself filled with positive vibes is the core to self-care during this trying time. The question is, how do we stay positive always? For me, continuing to have faith in our dear God gives me the confidence to accept the things that I cannot change, including movement control and lockdown in a confined space and new norms of daily life amid fear and worries; the courage to change the things I can, such as to be versatile and cope well with the new norms, caring for and calming families, friends and reaching out to strangers in need; and the wisdom to know the difference by staying correctly informed with news and happenings. One is never well enough prepared in times of crisis, but embracing the change serenely will surely help us go a long way.”


Jason Martinez
Administrative associate, Arizona 


“Flamenco dancing has always been a way for me to decompress. Sometimes the detailed focus of moving the body in just such a way to create just such an effect is enough to take me out of my clouded headspace.” 

Check out Jason’s YouTube channel to learn more. 


Xochil Ramirez, 
Youth fellow, Roots for Peace, Los Angeles


“It is critical that we take care of ourselves and our communities in whatever way feels good for us. Maybe that means checking in with others through text/call/FaceTime or checking in with self and noticing how we are doing and honoring that. We’re also sharing steps for an herb and flower water blend shared by @hoodherbalism to support during these difficult times. Our indigenous knowledge and la tierra give us medicine and wisdom that serves us all.”

Follow Roots for Peace on Instagram.


Zhang Yunyun
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK/North Korea) Agricultural Program coordinator, China

Zhang Yunyun’s son making redbean bun 

“During my quarantine period, I spent much more time cooking with my kid. We tried to make the buns, dumplings, and even handmade noodles. I did improve my cooking skills and, at the same time, enjoyed the days with my kid.”  


Jon Krieg
Regional communications specialist, Des Moines, Iowa

Snow covers Jon Krieg’s garlic in Iowa. 

“I’ve tried a lot of things to ease my spirits. Along with planting a garden, my spouse and I are doing more swing dancing in our kitchen. I’ve resolved to call at least one friend or family member each day just to say hi and tell them I’m thinking about them. Sometimes it’s the little things – and not too many of them – that make a big difference.”