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Graduate Studies

Feeling safe and calm at home

Andrea shares some strategies below:

It’s good to be able to learn to recognize in yourself the signs when you feel stressed or scared, and try some strategies based on that observation and what would be helpful in that moment.

So, let’s say you sit down to start working at your table, counter, living room etc.



Trouble focussing

  • bouncing from task to task not sure what to focus on, hard to know what the priority is for you to work on.
Write a list

  • the tasks you have, projects you’re working on, assignments, deadlines
  • make a list of the groceries you need,
  • things you’re worried about,
  • make a list of emotions your feeling at that moment,
  • make a list of people to call,
  • make a list of short, medium, and long-term goals,
  • make a list of things and people you’re grateful for.

Get these things out of your head and on to a page so they have a place to anchor and not take up space in your mind

Embodied stress

  • feel your heart rate increase
  • tension in your body (neck/shoulders, digestion)
Move around

  • go for a walk, take some exercise, activity, move the body, dance, lift heavy stuff
Voice shaky or weak Phone someone

  • call a friend/family just to talk?
  • call a support line?
  • sing, recite, talk aloud alone, to a pet or a housemate
Excessive worry about the future Focus on present moment, what you can control – immediate (today); gratitude, and your basic needs being met in this moment (home, food, clothing, safe).

  • inhale(5 seconds) and exhale (6 seconds)
Sleepy, irritable, angry, sad … Netflix. Be kind to yourself.

Expandable List

Assuming focus and calm are restored.

Caveat: kindness and praise for everything that you do.

  1. Schedule blocks of time – boundaries for your day (start, end, breaks, tasks).
    • As much as possible make a daily schedule that works for you. You can adapt it and modify, but it will provide some structure. If you don’t end up following that schedule, don’t feel badly. Just observe. What got in the way today? What did you learn about when you work best/least best – what factors were at play. If structured schedules not your thing, think of your day and week in terms of a rhythm. Rituals for end of day.
  2. Take breaks – get up and move regularly.
    • The frequency of this will depend on internal factors (how you work best, mental state) and external factors (kids, family responsibilities, living arrangements). Consider setting an alarm/reminder, Pomodoro.
    • Break down your goals into smaller tasks Try grouping actions into threes.
  3. Accountability and support.
    • Tell people what you’re doing – state your goals for the day/week/hour.
    • Start or join a weekly or daily accountably group over zoom – report back on your progress and ask others about theirs.
    • Let people know you are doing a work/writing block from 10 to 11 a.m., 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or whatever you can manage.
    • Check in regularly with your thesis supervisor, send updates, ask for feedback strategize together.
  4. Reward, praise, don’t eliminate distractions. Care for yourself and loved ones first.
    • Normally I would suggest people disconnecting from phones, internet, and social media. But people need to be available and connected right now for family and community. So in this case, I recommend people remain available by text, phone, or possibly email. You can block news and social media.
    • Build in lots of fun rewards – a walk, a nice lunch, 30 minutes of reading or music (set an alarm or timer). Reflect back and review your progress (maybe with a peer daily?). Write your plans/goals for tomorrow just before finishing work for the day.