Staying connected during a time of physical distance.
It’s an unprecedented time for the world.
Across North America this week, people have rapidly transitioned to a life inside: companies have instituted work from home policies, children are out of school, and local governments have demanded non-essential businesses to shutter.
But we’re only a few weeks behind other countries in the world, where this has been a reality for even longer. It feels as though March has been a whole year in itself.
Originally, we were compiling some of our tips and tricks for working from home. But given these troubling times, it’s hard for a lot of professionals to focus on words like productivity and efficiency.
Instead, we’re compiling some resources for keeping yourself and your loved ones calm and connected, along with some ways to get some work done and help out during this crisis.
There’s a lot of bad news out there right now, and a lot of it is designed to keep you reeled in.
Whether it’s cable, YouTube or Twitter, everyone is firing off a barrage of news reports, personal accounts, theories and conspiracies, with a suite of data to top it all off.
And it’s hard not to. This is a real crisis, with real people’s lives at stake. It’s important for all of us to remain informed and to continue to do what we can to reduce the risk to our communities.
That being said, staying glued to the news isn’t helpful for anyone. So next time you’re feeling yourself getting sucked in, we have a few suggestions to try out.
Take a breath:
The easiest way to calm down? Take a deep breath.
Breathing techniques, such as box breathing, have been circulating in emails and Twitter threads. The box technique is pretty simple to follow: breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, and then hold empty for 4 seconds.
Give it a try! It’s remarkable how something as simple as breathing can drastically change the way we’re feeling.
If you’re looking for something a bit more specific, Calm and Headspace, two major players in the wellness app space, are offering a bundle of free resources for managing your anxiety and uncertainty.
These services offer sleep stories, guided meditation, calming soundscapes and more -- in case you find yourself up late worrying, or you just can’t keep your focus for more than a few minutes at a time.
While staying connected with others is important during this time, finding time for yourself is still as crucial as ever.
Do something you enjoy:
Walk your dog. Do a workout at home. Draw something. Play some video games.
It’s difficult, with what’s going on, to feel okay. But by partaking in activities such as these, you’ll allow yourself to relax -- to let go of the constant stress. That way, you can start to focus on actionable steps you can take to help things get better.
We recently came across an article in one of our favorite publications, The Outline, highlighting some places you can head to on the Internet to find some enjoyment amongst the uncertainty. Head over to this link for some solid suggestions.
One of our favorites? Art Sqool. Check it out over the weekend!
People are finding new and inventive ways to bring themselves together during this crisis -- but in the virtual world.
While Zoom and Slack are the natural answers to working collaboratively while in different spaces, companies are trying out new ideas to help employees adjust to new policies.
One example we were particularly fond of was introducing online games as a team-building activity. Scheduling out a block of time to build team morale and camaraderie is always a good idea, and being apart from each other doesn’t make staying connected impossible.
NameShouts recently tried this out with a game of online Pictionary, which gave the team a much-needed boost to our moods, and gave us an opportunity to chat about our lives outside of work. If you’re looking for some inspiration, this article has some great suggestions.
People are finding ways to do this with their friends as well: whether through card games on Zoom calls or the newly released Animal Crossing. While we may be distancing ourselves physically, it’s more important than ever to maintain our social connections.
Whether it’s ordering in from your favorite restaurant or buying a gift card to the stores you love, you can take immediate steps from your home to help protect your favorite businesses.
These types of businesses often rely on foot traffic for a majority of their business: with everyone at home, things get a lot harder for them.
Erin Bury, CEO of Willful and fellow FounderFuel alum, compiled an extensive list of businesses in Canada, but you could do the same with your local stores. Give your favorite restaurant, print shop or clothing brand a message, and see if there’s a way you can help.
Cities around the world are shutting down, and a lot of our lives will be shifting online. It’s important for us to remain in touch with the world around us: part of staying connected can come from directly supporting local businesses.
But there’s other ways to help out too -- specifically, with the people who might be most affected.
Easing the pain:
Since we’re based in Montreal, we’ll start off by highlighting some initiatives in our city that have stepped up to help out. For our readers who aren’t here -- try looking for a similar initiative in your area, or kicking one off yourself if you have the means.
From food banks to research, people are finding ways to help out while staying at home. In Montreal, food banks are currently looking for donations and volunteers.
People with extra resources in this time could look into their local organizations to see if they could use some supplies, or an extra hand (as long as you haven’t traveled recently, or been in contact with an infected person, of course).
For those looking to help in other ways, there are still numerous ways to get involved: especially if tech is your forte. Boards like Help With Covid, or this one from the Upside Foundation, aggregate projects that talented folks are working on to assist with the crisis.
Some of these projects focus on tech-based solutions, where you might not need to leave home, but others are focused on direct involvement: coordinating grocery delivery for vulnerable people, for example. If you have some time on your hands, projects like that are a great way to get involved and directly help your community.
Over here, AI research-hub Mila has encouraged and supported a number of projects looking to directly address the crisis, including a chatbot to provide support to government hotlines, research into the molecular structure of the virus, and aggregation of existing AI-based approaches to the COVID-19 disease.
Restez chez vous:
The easiest, and most effective way to help right now, though, is by staying at home as much as possible. If you need to go out, whether to buy groceries for yourself or others, be sure to wash your hands before and after, and if you have access, keep a sanitizer on you.
It’s an uncertain time, but we can find comfort in settling in with staying home, keeping in touch with each other virtually, and finding ways to help out in our cities.
While it’s unclear when things will go back to normal, we hope that you can use some of these strategies to manage the evolving situation. Nothing about this is easy, but staying connected to your friends, family and community is crucial -- even as you are physically kept apart.
Stay safe. Stay at home. Stay connected. Let’s make it through this together.