Amid the grand scale of a global pandemic, the stress of being apart from loved ones and colleagues can sometimes get buried among other, larger concerns, like paying rent and keeping food on the table.
But lack of contact with those in your network can truly take an emotional toll, according to Tiana Kara, the executive director of Built By Girls.
“Being separated from each other really sucks,” Kara told In The Know. “All of this is completely foreign and we’re navigating it day by day.”
The Oakland native, whose organization strives to prepare female and non-binary students to “step boldly” into tech-oriented careers, explained that during trying times such as these, mental health should be a “massive priority” for everyone.
However, since physically reaching out to provide support to your network is no longer an option, Kara says there are still ways to “stay connected” and make sure the women in your life know you’ve got their backs.
Host a B.Y.O.L. (Bring Your Own Lunch)
If you’ve found yourself missing 9-5 office life, drop some time on your calendar for a virtual lunch break with colleagues or friends, much like you’d do on a normal day.
“It’d be nice to pretend like you’re at a large dinner table or maybe eating at a restaurant,” Kara said. “Remember what that felt like? I do.”
Shout Someone Out
If ever there was a time to say nice things for no reason, this would be it.
And, since it can’t be done in person, social media is the perfect place to heap much-needed praise on your pals.
“Jump into your social accounts and shout out a friend who’s done something extraordinary this week or the week prior,” Kara explained. “It’s a nice way just to feel appreciated.”
Sometimes, a friend’s emotional support needs transcend group conversation. If you know someone who might be struggling amid social isolation, Kara advises reaching out directly and seeing if they want to talk.
“Schedule a one-on-one with someone you know and check in on how they’re doing,” she said. “How’s their emotional and mental state? Ask them how they’re coping. What are you really proud of and what do you need a little bit of help with this week?”
“It’s nice to feel like someone truly cares about you, especially while dealing with such a strange time as now,” she added.
Support Women-Owned Businesses
For those looking to kill some quarantine time by online shopping, Kara says a great way to support women during this difficult time is by directing your business to female-owned companies — and maybe think about sending those purchases to a friend in need, if you can afford to.
“This one’s a personal favorite,” Kara admitted. “We’ve all been impacted by this virus, and small business owners have experienced a major hit. So, I’ve got a two-birds, one-stone kind of approach — buy it for someone (who) you know could use a little bit of a pick me up.”
“Maybe it’s a make-your-own magic kit or something really cool from an Etsy designer,” she continued. “It’s a great way to feel as if you’re supporting small business owners and also lifting someone’s spirits.”
Be a Bridge
Finally, Kara recommends thinking about those who you could act as a networking “bridge,” or lifeline for, at a time when business is tough.
“It’s an invaluable resource that can truly help us in our personal and professional lives,” she explained. “So, think about it — who could you be a bridge for? Do you know someone who’s an entrepreneur and needs a little financial advice? Connect them to the best financial expert you know, you could be a great help.”
“I hope they can try these out and I hope they connect with you in some type of way,” she added. “Take care of each other and be safe.”
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