As a network of rising leaders actively plugged into civic issues, we know it can be difficult to practice social distancing (especially for those extroverts among us). At a time when we’re being called to step up and stay home, organizations and individuals are coming forward with innovative initiatives and resources to help us manage the transition.
Here are some of our favourite resources and tips we’ve seen to help you stay connected in a time of physical distancing.
Staying connected professionally:
- First time working from home? Linkedin Learning is here to help. These free online courses will help better prepare you for the realities of working from home.
- Meetings Made Easy: Five platforms for video meetings. There are a number of free, user-friendly softwares to help you stay connected to your team. Check out Google Hangouts, Google Duo, Skype, Zoom and Webex. The best part? You can still wear your pajama pants.
- Digitize those casual co-worker coffee chats. Sometimes we get more done in that watercooler chat than we do in a team meeting. It’s important not to let co-worker connections fall to the wayside even though the office is closed. Check out these 13 Virtual Team Building Activities for Remote Teams.
- Take your networking skills online. This is a great time to brush up your Linkedin, follow new folks on Twitter, and join new Facebook groups for GTHA professionals. Some of our favourites are Millennial Womxn in Policy, Young Urbanists League, Canada’s Young Leaders and Innovators, and of course share the Emerging Leaders Network with your friends!.
- Sharpen up your toolkit with free webinars, trainings, and courses. Organizations are quickly adapting conferences, talks, and events to online formats, so keep your eye on mailing lists and social media for opportunities to join in. Check out websites like Coursera and edX for free online courses and training from major institutions.
Staying connected to your communities:
- Find a diversity of community support options through this online resource list. Access resources from across the GTA, including financial assistance, volunteering opportunities, free webinars, health services, and more.
- Extra time on your hands while “distancing”? Donate it. One of the most valuable resources you have to give is your time, and volunteering can be an extremely impactful way to contribute to your community in this time of crisis. As you’ll see from the resource list shared above, many organizations are looking for volunteers to help support our region’s most vulnerable populations. For example, Kids Help Phone is urgently looking for volunteers to take calls from inside their own homes. Here is a short video outlining helpful hygiene tips for those continuing to volunteer in person, whether you’re walking someone’s dog or delivering supplies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyjgfGrB6Tc&feature=youtu.be.
- If you have capacity, consider donating financially to Canadian charities providing aid directly to those affected by COVID-19. Canada Helps has provided a list of charities who are responding to this crisis and seeking immediate support. Consider donating or sharing with your network.
- Support your favourite local businesses from the comfort of your own couch. Usually frequent your local coffee shop every morning? Reach out and see if they offer gift cards. That’s money in the business’ pocket now, and a few future lattes in yours. Many restaurants are still open for takeout; check out this crowd-sourced map of restaurants offering takeout and delivery from across the GTHA.
- Help spread kindness through the Caremongering-TO Facebook Group. Concerned citizens started this group only a couple weeks ago to offer support, care, and kindness to each other and our region’s most vulnerable populations. The group has since grown to over 17,000 members.
Staying connected to yourself:
- Take a minute—or sixty—to disconnect and practice mindfulness. In a world where headlines are delivered directly to our phones and we’re being updated by the minute, it’s important to take the time to disconnect from bad news and focus on ourselves. Apps like Headspace offer sessions in meditation and mindfulness to help guide you.
- Really feeling the distance? Find someone to talk to. Many counsellors and therapists offer online sessions through phone or video. If you’re unsure how to go about finding the right fit for you, here’s a quick and helpful guide. Also check out these great resources for supporting mental health during COVID-19 from CAMH, Canada’s leading academic mental health hospital and a world leader in mental health research.
- Find movement that works for you. With rapidly changing guidelines around when it is appropriate to be outside and workout spaces closed for the foreseeable future, we’re looking for alternatives for getting active. Yet the reality for many GTHA folks is tiny studios, basement apartments, and very little space to move around. Luckily, there are many forms of movement that can be done from a mat on the floor or even from your chair as you work. CBC has published a great list of free, no equipment needed online fitness classes. Your own local workout studio may also be offering free online classes to members or even to the public, so make sure to check their website.
- Looking for some inspiration? Take in some arts and culture online. With events being cancelled and postponed around the world, a Toronto-based artist took action by creating an online platform for artists to continue to gain exposure. Check out creative work from across all mediums through The Social Distancing Festival. Looking to soak up some music at the symphony or test your history knowledge at a museum? Here’s a list of virtual tours you can take and livestreams to listen to. Local musicians are also offering livestreams of concerts, including Canadian singer Dan Mangan, who played to an empty theatre at the Danforth Music Hall last week and released a free video of his show.
- Dive into that book you’ve been meaning to read. This might be the time to tackle that professional development book, or maybe you just need a break from it all with the newest crime novel. Whatever it may be, most libraries offer a huge selection of ebook and audiobook rentals from across all genres. Check out Toronto Public Library’s online collection. Long wait time on that book you’ve been wanting to read? Download the Kindle app onto any device and sign-up for a one-month trial membership of Kindle Unlimited to access thousands of free books.
Know other great resources that weren’t included in this list? Post in the ELN Facebook Group or tweet at us! We know this is a challenging time and we want to hear from all ELNers about how we can best support you as you continue to support our region. Please take five minutes to share your feedback with us through this short survey: link to member survey.
Are you contributing to front-line work and helping our region during COVID-19? Are you interested in sharing your reflections and learnings with fellow ELNers? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in next month’s ELN Spotlight.