The COVID-19 pandemic took us all by surprise and forced us to make many adjustments in our lives. There has been so much uncertainty about everything leaving people to feel confused, lost, stressed, overwhelmed, or all of the above. With so many social, financial, psychological, and physical changes to our lifestyle, it is completely understandable why you might be feeling this way. Here is a list of 10 tips that may help to get through this pandemic semester.
1. Separate your workspace from your relaxation space.
● Working from home has been so nice. I love waking up and logging into Zoom from the comforts of my bed. However, with school being online, sometimes it’s difficult to separate the area where you do your work and where you take breaks. For me personally, I used to work from my bed all the time until I realized that I started associating my bed with studying rather than relaxing. So now, I try to set aside a separate place designated for my school work which is either my desk or living room. I find this helps me be more productive when I need to work and helps me relax better when I want to chill.
2. Screen detox.
○ With school being virtual, it’s easy to get caught up in hours of online lectures or studying through your computer. This is not only putting a strain on your mind, but also on your eyes and your body. Try to take frequent breaks in between screen time to allow your body and mind a break. You can use the Pomodoro technique or set your own timer to remind yourself to take a screen break.
3. Stay active.
● Working out has never been an easy task, but especially during the pandemic, it can be hard to feel motivated to exercise. We don’t realize how active we were pre-pandemic until we compare ourselves to our sedentary lifestyle right now. I’m not saying that you have to start doing Chloe Ting’s 2-week abs shred workout, but there are so many quick and easy workouts on YouTube. If you don’t like workouts, maybe try to go on a walk every now and then. Even better, during a break just put on your favorite song and dance it out! Any sort of activity counts.
4. Connect with friends.
○ When school was in person, it was so easy to meet up with friends during the day. Whether it was to grab a coffee from MUSC, get food from La Piazza, or chill at Mills Commons (because nobody ACTUALLY did any work there), it was very convenient to see your friends. Now with people being back home, there is an extra effort that needs to be made to keep in touch, but I feel like it’s very important. Social media has made keeping in touch so much easier, so whenever you get the chance send a message to your friends to maintain your relationships. Even a simple text can go a long way to let your friends know you are thinking of them. When safe, you can even meet up with them while socially distancing.
5. Keep an agenda
○ The days have been blending into one long, continuous, endless day. It’s hard for me to remember what day it is, so I keep an agenda. Not only does it help distinguish the days from each other, but it also works to plan out your week. Without my agenda, I would have missed so many deadlines. This weekly to-do-list gives the weeks a sense of purpose and makes me feel in control so the days don’t feel as much as a blur.
6. Eat healthily.
○ During these stressful times, some people like myself tend to reach for comfort foods. It’s not always the healthiest thing for your body. Start with aiming for 1 healthy meal a day, and slowly increase this to more healthy meals. Also, remember to always keep water beside you and limit other caffeinated or sugar-filled drinks.
7. Don’t set unrealistic expectations.
○ Being home more often does not mean that you are expected to use your free time to master a new skill, or start a side business. Although that would be great if you chose to do so, it is still a pandemic, so doing nothing and relaxing at home is completely valid as well. Each person is reacting to this pandemic differently, and while some want to use their time to start an independent business, others may be happy watching Netflix shows, and both seem perfectly okay to me.
8. Use social media with caution.
○ Social media is great for connecting with people and getting exposure to current situations. However, it can easily become overwhelming being constantly exposed to negative and scary news. It can sometimes make you feel hopeless. However, be cautious of how social media is affecting you so that you are aware. Also, there is a lot of fake news over social media about COVID-19, so don’t believe everything you see and always make sure to fact-check through reliable sources. Some reliable sources are Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) (who.int) and Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update - Canada.ca.
9. Make time for a hobby, or find a new one.
○ If you find yourself bored with nothing to do, maybe consider picking up an old hobby or making a new one. Go for walks, bake, dance, start a YouTube channel, start a makeup Instagram page, or whatever else you find interesting. This will help the time pass through the days while doing something fun. Hobbies can also be a great outlet during stressful times to help alleviate and distract yourself from the stress.
○ Lastly, but most importantly, try to stay positive. Negative thoughts can feed into your anxiety and stress, so try to avoid those by maintaining an optimistic mindeset. Even when you are feeling low and nothing seems positive, when you truly reflect on your life I’m sure you can find some things to be happy about. A gratitude journal is where you can write down things that you feel grateful for in your life. By doing this, you remind yourself of the positivity and build resiliency in these hard times. Here is a link for support during COVID-19: Support During COVID-19 - Student Wellness Centre (mcmaster.ca).
As you go on through this semester, keep these things in mind and try to implement them whenever you can. Take each day as it comes and do what you can to make the most of these tough times.
By Sumaya Bhatti - LSS VP External/Internal 2020 - 2021