Hi! I'm Tash, a third year English student and (very very very) amateur photographer, who is liable to accidentally dye my light clothes (or friends, or seats, or walls) blue with my hair whenever it rains :)
This past year, so much of our lives has become virtual; from online learning and working from home to having to get used to seeing our mates through our screens. With everything now being so digitalised, it’s more important than ever to create for yourself a positive virtual ecosystem. Making and then maintaining a positive online space can help you not get overwhelmed or feel burnt out with all the new online systems we’re getting to grips with and help you make the most of your different online platforms, from work software to social media.
An easy first step to setting up a positive virtual ecosystem would be trying out and getting a really good understanding of the different platforms you’re going to be using. Even though most of us have now been working and learning online for a while, as we start each new term, taking a little time to refamiliarize yourself with the different platforms you use can help alleviate a lot of anxiety heading into sessions and meetings. This should also mean if someone asks you to try a new platform or way of working you’ll be a little more ready, and less likely to be sat worrying for half the session that you’ve accidentally left your camera or microphone on. As well as trying these platforms out beforehand, reaching out to or creating a group chat with the people in your seminars or work teams can help you get more comfortable too. These groups can be great for getting to know who’s in your sessions so you won’t feel as nervous speaking or contributing in your seminars, and they can help make up for some of that face-to-face time you’d get with everyone outside of your work sessions.
Managing your time online is also a key part of keeping your online space positive. If you’re answering emails at midnight or sat in front of lecture after lecture with no breaks, you’re going to burn yourself out. When working and learning from home it can be difficult to separate out your time to let you work while also giving you enough time to look after yourself – when you have everything available to you 24/7, it can be hard to know when to stop. But having this availability of access can also be worked to suit you! Set a time when you are ‘out of office’, where you don’t have to reply to anything, uni prep work is done and you can completely separate yourself from your working headspace. This should help stop your work and learning overwhelming the other things you want and need to do in your day and make sure you don’t find yourself lost in it all.
Social media is also a huge part of most of our virtual ecosystems, and particularly now they are amazing for keeping us all connected and being able to check-in with each other. However, these apps can easily become draining if you follow accounts or content that doesn’t make you feel good. Looking over the accounts you follow and thinking about how the things these pages are putting out makes you feel is a good way to start making your social media accounts feel more positive. Even accounts that are supposed to be motivating or overtly positive can become unhelpful if you’re not feeling 100%, so also check if this type of page is actually helping you feel better or is instead making you feel more stressed or unproductive. Another great way to brighten up your social media is finding artists and other creatives online whose stuff you really like and following them. This breaks up your feed a little and adds something which is more uplifting, and can even inspire some creativity in you!
Overall, creating and keeping a positive virtual ecosystem is a process, but it not a very hard thing to do! Given we are all spending so much more time online at the moment, it’s even easier to spot things that don’t feel good or helpful to you and move them out of your space. Put yourself first, you’re going to be in these virtual spaces a lot at the minute, so making sure you are comfortable there, maybe using this handful of tips as a starting point, should help that positivity reach out from the virtual into your every day!