Let us preface this guide by telling you that if this period of uncertainty is stressing you the f*&k out, it’s okay. There’s quite a bit on our minds — reorganization of courses, fears over graduation, lost jobs and co-ops, forced move-outs and the sudden disruption of pretty much everything.

In more ways than one, this time is defining our present and future, and soon it will be just a single moment in our collectives histories. The details of the stories and lessons we will learn are blurry, but there’s no doubt that this time presents an opportunity for our communities to re-emerge breathing a new rhythm. So slow down, discover a new pace for yourself and appreciate reflective silences. Lean into companionships with your loved ones, neighbours and strangers — especially our community members who are being disproportionately impacted right now. Nothing about this is normal, and it’s okay to feel a little lost.

The Silhouette staff made this guide with McMaster undergraduate students in mind, we hope you’ll find it helpful. This guide will be updated as we learn to navigate this period of change together.

Tips for studying

We feel you </3. Here are some tips our team has put together, there’s more to come!

  • Designate an area in your home that is only for completing school work.
  • Designate a schedule and make to-do lists to stay on top of your tasks.
  • Take breaks while studying. For example, taking short breaks (5 to 15 minutes) after every hour.
  • Freshen up: If you feel comfortable, try changing out of the clothes you sleep in and into something that would normally wear to school or work.
  • Fake a commute: Take a walk around your neighbourhood, bike down the street and back, or hang on to your shower curtain rod with some headphones on to mimic a bus ride.
  • Set up email or SMS notifications for Avenue to Learn so you don’t miss important updates.
  • Study buddies: Miss your Thode buddy? Give them a video chat call, catch up a little bit, and then dedicate time to work in silence in each other’s virtual presence.
  • The Student Success Centre has a couple helpful tips on online course expectations, discussion posts and study habits available on their website.
  • Click the link for some tips to boost your home’s wifi.
  • If you are facing challenges with e-learning, accessing the internet or require accommodations please reach out to your professor to discuss options.

What in the world is Zoom?

Chances are you’ve either recently had to use Zoom or have seen a meme about it since social (physical) distancing measures were put in place. Zoom is a video conferencing platform that is accessible from a desktop or smartphone app, or even by calling in on a phone line. There are restrictions on how many users can participate in the video call and how long the call can go for depending on the hosts’ plan, but overall it’s a pretty neat and reliable tool. Aside from video, it’s possible to chat using Zoom, send files, share screens and manipulate other’s screens, among other things.

We’ve seen Zoom used creatively for virtual parties, workouts, club meetings, storytelling and workshops. Expect to use Zoom down the line to participate in community initiatives! Pro tip: If you enter a Zoom chat on your phone and can’t hear what anyone is saying (or people can’t hear you) it’s likely because you didn’t enable the “call in with device or phone audio” feature by clicking the microphone symbol and selecting your preference. Click the following links from some do’s and don’t of video conferencing and how to hide your messy room from a Zoom conference call.

Maintaining a social life

Step 1: Don’t be this person’s housemates:

SERIOUSLY, STOP DOING THIS PEOPLE. If you are physically within close proximity of people you do not live with, you are putting yourself and others at risk. Even if you don’t think you’re sick, you could be a carrier, so it’s extremely crucial that we participate in physical distancing. 

Here’s how you can maintain your social life while still physically distancing:

  • Video call: Technology allows us to stay connected even when we are not physically together. Establish time to set aside to socialize with your peers and family.
  • Netflix Party: a Google Chrome app/extension that allows groups of people to watch Netflix shows long distance. It syncs up the shows for everyone watching and lets you do a group chat. 
  • Reach out to a loved one, friend or peer every day or two, if you’re able to. It doesn’t have to be a long chat, just something to check in and make sure that you’re both doing alright.
  • Participate in a poetry swap! Because We’ve Read is hosting a #COVID19 Global Poetry Swap — what is better in this moment than to make a new friend that you cannot meet? (& share and receive poetry with them?). Check out their website for more information!
  • Take a virtual cooking class: A great way to meet new people while also learning a new dish! Fraser Fitzgerald, a Hamilton based chef, has a series of online classes for folks to connect and cook via Zoom. You can learn to make your own vegan cheese and pretzels, and even sharpen your knife skills.

Dedicate time to self care, fun and play

  • The Aids Network Hamilton recently published an extensive list of queer content to stream while physically distancing. The list breaks down must-watch shows and films on Netflix, Crave and Youtube.
  • A former staff member recently inherited a large tank of shrimp, and he’s set up a shrimp tank live stream. It’s a great distraction and they’re very calming. 
  • Learn a new skill with Adobe Creative Suite: Illustrator and Premiere Pro are just some of the programs that McMaster students have free temporary access to during this time. There are a plethora of free tutorials on YouTube and LinkedIn Learning.
  • Clean up your Google Drive: If you’re graduating this year (or not!) it’s probably a good idea to get started on organizing and cleaning up your McMaster Google Drive and Gmail. Eligibility for email accounts is dependant upon your enrollment status. For graduating students, your @mcmaster.ca email will expire on January 31 following your convocation. All questions about @mcmaster.ca email can be directed to University Technology Services. This help document contains details on moving your mail, you can also visit the Alumni website for information on setting up email forwarding and an alumni email.
  • A former Sil staff member shared with us his 70 must-see films. The list balances critically acclaimed titles with gems you probably haven’t even heard of:
  • Limiting screen time: Find a craft or activity that you can do during some of your breaks in order to give your eyes a break from the screen. This also helps you feel productive so that you don’t feel pressured to do homework constantly. This could be cooking, baking, painting, making jewelry, etc.
  • Work out at home: Fitness and movement studios have gotten pretty creative these days with offering online classes. For example, Good Body Feel has moved its services online to keep folks moving from a distance. The instagram account dedicated to McMaster’s Okanagan Charter, which providence guidance on health and wellness on campus, has posted a couple workout tips:
  • Sil staff tips: When you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to gently wash your face with cold water. You’ll feel a bit better and the cold water can help ground you. Drinking a glass of cold water slowly or holding ice in your mouth can have a similar soothing effect. 
  • Sil staff tip: I recently attended an anxiety workshop (on Zoom!) and we talked about several ways to manage anxiety and negative thoughts:
    • Acknowledge negative thoughts for what they are
    • Think about why you are having this thought and what it means
    • Take a moment to have compassion for your self
    • Pivot from negative thought by imagining a positive scenario viscerally (i.e. with a lot of details that stimulate as many senses as you can). For example, if you start thinking about how you had to suddenly move out of residence and didn’t get the chance to say goodbye, try to imagine a positive fantasy where you’re meeting up with your friends (post quarantine), think about how you’d feel when that happens, possibly the warmth of their hugs, the sounds of laughter, etc.
  • Sil staff tip: Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t feel like you’re getting a lot of work done, there’s a huge amount of anxiety at the moment, and it’s okay if you can’t focus on schoolwork. Just do the best that you can and reach out to support programs and systems if you’re able to. 


  • The Disability Justice Network of Ontario and the Hamilton Student Mobilization Network have started the CareMongering-HamOnt: Hamilton Community Response to COVID19 Facebook group to connect people in the community to share resources and organize support in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The goal of the volunteer-run group is to redistribute resources and ensure that vulnerable members of the community have access to food, shelter and healthcare — look out for an article on this to come out shortly.
  • This collaborative document was made by community members and breaks down the Federal Government’s $82 billion aid package along with critiques and resources.
  • Fight for $15 & Fairness and Workers’ Action Centre are hosting a webinar on workers’ rights during Covid-19 on Thursday March 26 at 7 p.m..
  • To learn about employment insurance benefits, please visit this government webpage.
  • Public Health Ontario has published guides on how to wash hands, clean and disinfect pubic settings and self-monitor in multiple languages.
  • Amid the spread of COVID-19, residents were told to call Telehealth Ontario for an assessment from a health care provider before going to a hospital emergency room for a diagnosis. For free medical advice you can call 1-866-797-0000.
  • McMaster Student Wellness Centre has moved some of their services online, for more information on these updates please check out their website. Appointments can only be made by calling 905-525-9140 x27700 between the hours of 10am-2pm. Most appointments will be via online and telephone platforms for any appointments that do not need to be in-person.
  • Sexual Assault Centre Hamilton and Area: SACHA is available 24/7 through their Support Line (905-525-4162). Staff will be working from home and can be reached by voicemail and email.
  • Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office: This McMaster Equity and Inclusion Office resource is available by appointment. Contact svpro@mcmaster.ca for more information.
  • LGBT Youth Line: A toll-free Ontario-wide peer-support phone line for lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirited, queer and questioning young people. The Youth Line is available Sunday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. by text (647-694-4275), phone (1-800-268-9688) and live chat (youthline.ca)
  • Good2Talk Post-Secondary Student Helpline: Provides confidential support services for post-secondary students in Ontario. The helpline is available 24/7 by texting GOOD2TALKON to 686868 or calling 1-866-925-5454.









Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.