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4 Ways to Thrive During COVID-19

How I'm tackling this virtual semester
Erica Fiori working at her laptop

COVID-19 has stolen Spring 2020 from students everywhere. If you’re a senior like me, it’s an extra punch in the gut. However, despite the struggles the coronavirus has brought from switching to online classes to losing out on on-campus experiences, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

True resilience will be built within us during this time. We will forever have an example of “how we overcame a difficult time” in an interview. We will appreciate our degree in a way many don’t. We can and will get through this trying season.

The Marines have a slogan, “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome” which is a mindset that allows them to deal with any physical, mental or spiritual hardship. Now is our time to improve, adapt and overcome. I believe we have the opportunity to not only survive this trying season but thrive in it! While this is written for seniors, these tips can be applied for any virtual education. Here are my tips on how to make the most of the rest of this semester.

1. Mourn

This might sound like an odd step, and if you’re anything like me you tend to deal with your issues by thinking “well—others have it way worse than me right now.” While this may be true, you are going through a loss right now. Loss of in-class debates, loss of seeing your friends, loss of engaging in the club you joined, even loss of commencement ceremonies for us seniors. No matter how big or small losses, it still leaves a feeling of sadness and a lack of satisfaction. It’s still something that you were looking forward to, but now no longer have. It’s appropriate and healthy to give yourself a moment to be sad. It’s appropriate and healthy to give yourself a moment to reflect on how this loss is making you feel. Mourn the commencement ceremony you won’t attend. Mourn the friends you won’t see. Mourn the fact that this time of your life did not meet your expectations. This doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you healthy.

2. Create Your Workspace

I understand in this station the playing field for a comfy, focused, workspace is not levelled. However, we all have the ability to make any space our own. Whether it’s a traditional desk decked out with pictures that make you happy, or the dining room table with a candle burning next to you, it’s important to have a designated space you can call your own to be productive during this unsettling time.

I am in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in NY with my family. I have designated a small desk in my bedroom as my “work desk” and my back porch mixed with a lap desk and my “school desk.” My work desk has an extra monitor, a cup full of pens, and an essential oils diffuser that I put on when I’m feeling stressed. My back porch is designated for school because I need good lighting throughout my day to keep my mood up. If you can help it, try to not have your desk in the same room as your bed, or if you are like me and have to, have it facing away from your bed. It’s important to clearly distinguish rest and work time in this season, which brings me to my next point…

3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule!

This has been my saving grace in this COVID-19-lock-in-strangeness. It is so easy for me to get out of a rhythm being stuck inside, but I have been extra intentional about keeping a weekly and daily schedule. Usually, my schedule would include activities like class, work, etc. But my “lock-in” schedule is in blocks of time that break down my entire day. In addition to my normal routine, my days will be filled with scheduled times to go on a walk, Zoom call a friend, do homework, work on building my career and meditating/praying. I cannot tell you how good I feel when I get to the end of a long day but have accomplished everything on my schedule. It also keeps me accountable to work on myself in ways I might not if I didn’t have it written down (example: 20 minutes of yoga). Scheduling gives you a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day, but it also makes it easier to view your day in 24-hour periods instead of wondering how you’re going to survive weeks of this! 

4. Stay Engaged
  • Virtual Hangouts:  I don’t know about you, but I am living for my weekly hangout with friends. Every week, I ask a friend to grab something to eat or drink with me via Zoom call. It has been a really fun way to stay in touch with people as well as reconnect with old friends. It’s not the same as meeting up downtown, but hey—I save money! Host a virtual game night, watch a movie together on Netflix Party, or just catch up with a friend.

  • Virtual Networking: Think forward to post this crisis. What are the things you always wish you had time for, but never do? Now is the time! Personally, working on my professional career by updating resumes, revamping cover letters, working on my website, graining industry knowledge, are all things I needed time for. Since I am alone so much now, I have been asking professors, professionals and colleagues to grab a “coffee” with me virtually about once a week. It has been a great time to gain knowledge, focus on my field and get to network with others that I usually might not reach out to. This is the time to build our network.

  • Virtual Counseling: Let’s be real … this time is just rough. NONE of us is actually equipped to handle this. If you aren’t talking to a licensed therapist, counselor or spiritual director, this would be a good time to. A lot of counseling offices are now offering virtual sessions. Another great example are apps, like BetterHelp, where a licensed therapist can be available via text. There is no shame in needing to process fears, disappointments or problems during this time considering many of us are dealing with this on some level. 

Coronavirus has stolen a lot from us, but I believe it can be a trial that refines us to make us stronger than ever. We have lost a lot, but with the right mindset and hard work, I also believe we have a lot to gain during this time. Keep your head up high, reach out if you’re hurting and focus on what you can control during this time. You can make this a memorable, productive semester.

Class of 2020, don’t forget: You are RESILIENT.  

This article was edited and reposted with permission from ericafiori.com.

Published: Apr 21, 2020

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