As a student during Covid-19, it can be difficult to keep focused and continue to learn like business as usual. Understandably so, with schedules and regular routines having both been disrupted. Not to mention the massive switch to virtual learning, not having friends and mentors close by to speak with, and the challenges with finding the “right” work environment at home. That, coupled with balancing “home” with “work” now that they are one in the same, it can be especially challenging. That being said, there are several tips that make the home working experience, and summer quarantine, far smoother and manageable.
First and foremost, one of the most important things to keep in mind during these times is to take care of yourself. There are many ways this can be done, and it’s important to find what’s best for you. Keeping in contact with those close to you, and finding time to get out of the house in a safe and responsible way, are two excellent examples of strategies that could help. This includes talking with friends and family regularly - even if it is over the phone or zoom, as well as going on walks/hikes regularly to clear your mind and get fresh air. Being stuck inside can be both frustrating and detrimental to one’s mental wellbeing, so getting out is especially important!
Now let’s discuss online/ virtual schooling specifically. While there are many aspects about online schooling that are quite different from being there in person, i.e. the ability to participate and discuss class content with peers, as well as asking professors questions directly. Despite these changes, using apps such as zoom or facetime, allow you the freedom to still stay in contact with your classmates and study and work with your peers,without being in the same room. This not only allows for more social interaction, but is a good way of keeping one another motivated. In regards to communication, if you find email “tag” to be a frustrating and an inconvenient experience, consider communicating over the phone for better communication, understanding, and overall, less stress.
To ensure you are getting the supports and accommodations necessary to stay successful during Covid-19, self-advocacy is key. This is true to no matter the situation, but is especially important right now due to the closures of many schools and institutions. Meeting up with professors and academic advisors to discuss supports is certainly more difficult now, given social distancing requirements and institutional closures. However, do not be afraid to speak up and ask for assistance if ever and whenever you wish for more support! Using university websites and having zoom meetings or phone calls with teachers to discuss strategies can be a game changer, and will certainly make things easier. Don’t forget that just because there are school closures and online classes, it doesn’t mean that you won’t receive the support that you need, it just takes a few more new steps.
We recognize that it can be difficult to continue work and hobbies during Covid-19, however for your well-being, it is imperative to continue with activities that can be done in a safe manner. Engaging in hobbies such as hiking, biking, swimming, crafts, DIY projects, baking/cooking, etc. can all be done while maintaining social distancing rules, and can help you to keep busy. Perhaps there are volunteer opportunities that can be done virtually. Such positions could include administrative work and hotline operator. The importance of doing meaningful work cannot be stressed enough, it can make a stressful time far more manageable. Finding a cause to volunteer or work for that resonates with you can be hugely impactful and a fabulous learning experience.
We understand that the stress of potentially not finding employment this summer is something many students may be dealing with right now. If this is something you are struggling with, know that you are not alone. More than that, know that there are resources available to help you! Take the CESB (the Canada Emergency Student Benefit) for example. It was created during the pandemic as a way to assist students who are unable to find work over the summer. If you are a high school or post-secondary graduate in Canada, we encourage you to visit their website to learn more about this potentially stress-relieving option. Not to mention that the Canadian Government has also created Job Bank- an online portal where students can explore jobs that are available across the country. Even if it may be difficult to find a job, the search itself can be incredibly motivating and can keep the mind busy, which is especially important in these anxiety provoking and difficult times.
When working at home- be it for school or work- staying productive is a common concern. One important and useful strategy to keep on top of things while working at home, is a workplan. Mapping out what you want to accomplish and a timeline for when you would like things done each week can be the difference between a productive week and a distracted, less productive work week. This could be a rigid detailed schedule, outlining exact timelines of when you need things accomplished by. Alternatively, you could create a looser, more general schedule simply outlining overall goals for the week. What matters is creating a plan that works best for you. Extended periods of time at home can cause some disorientation when it comes to the calendar, and it can be very easy to lose track of time. Keeping a structured schedule can help keep tabs on important events and due dates that may fall out of focus during busy or stressful times.
Most importantly do not forget to create a work-life balance and take many breaks throughout the workday! Many studies have been done and have proven the benefits of a positive work-life balance on mental and physical health. Just because work is now at home does not mean it should take over your life!