By Carla De Ciccio
Originally Published on March 24, 2020
I’m sure I’m not the only MBA Student who’s feeling a bit anxious and overwhelmed right now.
As we near the end of the semester from the comfort of our homes, we not only have to adapt to online schooling during finals, but we have to do so while also reacting to everything else that now constitutes our reality. While we are learning about the integration of supply chains, we are anticipating the real-life consequences of the virus on our economy; and while we are studying the concepts of organizational behavior, we do our best to put on a smile and be reassuring to our families, friends and colleagues while struggling ourselves to hide our anxieties.
Whatever your situation might be, it’s completely normal to be concerned and I want you to know that you are not alone. WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER.
Here are a couple of hacks – or at this point just advice – that have helped me keep my spirit up and prevented my motivation from hitting the floor. Hopefully this will start a discussion of hope and resourcefulness as we brace for these difficult times ahead. I would love for you to send me your own hacks and routines, as this is the beginning of a long journey and the more tricks we have up our sleeves, the better.
1. BE PART OF THE SOLUTION:
MBAs and candidates, you know how important good leadership is in a time of crisis, and you don’t have to be the CEO of anything to exercise it. Use your skills to motivate others, check-in on your classmates through group chats (DM me if you want to be added to our cohort’s one), be compassionate towards teams you manage, and most importantly, lead by example especially with everything related to social-distancing.
As our country is turning to the private sector for help, getting involved in the relief efforts might be exactly what you need to regain a sense of purpose when so many things feel outside of our control.
Here are some of the initiatives I recommend you have a look at if you want to get involved:
- uOttawa Maker Space has rallied up a team to work on designing medical supplies to tackle any local shortage – They are looking for all sorts of skills to help with their efforts.
- A COVID-19 Community Care Ottawa Facebook group has become a meeting place connecting those in need with those who can help.
- Help promote fundraising efforts of Ottawa food bank and other local charities who are providing help to our neighbours and members of communities.
- You have more? Send them to me so I can add them here.
2. CREATE A ROUTINE:
Wake up early, go for a run, make coffee, shower, put on decent clothes, read or write for 45 minutes, and THEN start my work day.
Whatever yours looks like, make sure you create some sort of routine/schedule to keep yourself accountable for time. This is going to be your new normal for a while and you’re not going to feel better about yourself by staying in bed scrolling through your social media feed for the 27th time in the last hour.
Instead, create blocks of time that are clearly defined and visible to others you share a schedule with. If you can, you should enter those blocks into your calendar on your phone. Why?
- Because you’ll get the notifications and it will keep you accountable.
- Because it can be shared with colleagues and you won’t feel the guilt of not responding to emails or chats during those blocks of time.
- Because you can invite others to virtually share those activities with you.
Call your family, call your friends, call your colleagues, reconnect with people, start playing D&D online. This is a time where we need to check-in on each-other, even if we have no news to share, let’s make sure no one is left behind. Here’s a comprehensive list of free software that you can use for work, school and even with family during the outbreak.
Especially right now, both our minds and bodies need all the endorphins they can get to help us cope with the stress. Also, social distancing does not mean that you can’t go outside for a walk or a jog – you can, you just have to make sure you’re not crowding public areas and that you keep at least 2 meters between you and other people. So download the Nike running club app, put on your headphones and get yourself some of that fresh air. This is by far my favorite fitness app and even if you’ve never been a runner, there is something in there for everyone:
- Guided Runs: This is literally like having a personal trainer in your head that believes you can do it, and then tells you how to do it. They even have meditation runs guided by the founder of the mindfulness app Headspace.
- Tracked Progress and achievement: Shows you all your stats, improvements and it gives you awards! Their gamification game is very strong, and it makes it very easy to stay motivated!
- Social: You can see which of your friends also use the app and follow them. You can cheer each other on when going for runs, and compete in the leaderboard.
- Personalized Coaching: You can set yourself a goal, and the app will tailor a personalized coaching plan for you (this is how I went from being a runner beginner to running half marathons last summer).
5. LAST BUT NOT LEAST, BE COMPASSIONATE:
As the next weeks unfold, the news is going to get darker before it gets better, so make sure to tune in with yourself and acknowledge your feelings instead of suppressing them. Understand what you can and cannot control, and only spend your energy on the things that are in your control. Use mindfulness, meditation and if you are a uOttawa student or employee, here are mental health resources you have access to for free.
Finally, be compassionate towards others. “Mettre de l’eau dans son vin” is a French saying that can be translated to adding water to your wine or meeting people halfway. You may fundamentally disagree with some of the things people around you may be saying, but remember that we are all figuring this out as we go, that no world leader or governments have the answers we are seeking, and that everyone is coping differently. So be kind, be courageous, and help those who may not see the opportunities in times of adversity.