By Heather Bach MA, CCC
Director of the Bach Counselling Group
So you or someone you love is a student working online….at the clinic we find that students have been hit pretty hard with mental health challenges since the pandemic including increased anxiety, loneliness, and even hopelessness. It’s been hard to adapt to online learning and stay inspired!
For online learning, you have to set boundaries, limits, and goals for yourself. It’s up to you to design the structure in your daily life for your studies, physical movement, and social connection. Now, this is way more responsibility than pre-pandemic learning time when much of this was built into daily life.
Use these tips to prepare yourself for self-directed learning to keep your studies and your mental health on track!
1. SET GOALS
Review the course outline and set your goal for the course. What grade would you like to achieve? What level of comprehension or competency with the material are you looking to reach. Be clear about the outcome you set for yourself and review the expectations set by the professor in the syllabus. How are they measuring the quality of your work? How will they measure your performance?
2. STUDY SPACE
Create a dedicated study space including ample light, comfort in seating, supplies, and ambiance. Make this space the kind of space you enjoy and be sure to limit all distractions so a clear and clutter-free space is best. Turn off all notifications on your devices before your study time begins.
Build a study plan that includes a schedule in your calendar for the class time and a set schedule for the number of hours per week you estimate will be needed to achieve your goals for the course. Setting such a schedule with time limits will help you push through and limit your non-productive study time as well. (Use a calendar on your device with notifications along with a paper color-coded calendar set on your desk.
Schedule your breaks to maintain your efficiency when studying. Sitting for long periods of time can fatigue your eyes and cause pain and strain in your body. Set a timer to get up and leave your desk, move your body and give your eyes a break from the computer at least every 20 minutes. Did you know that studying for too long can have serious consequences:
- Loss of concentration
- Eye strain fatigue
- Poor knowledge retention
- Inadequate performance on tests
5. GET HELP
Ask for help with your course material when you hit a wall. Don’t stay stuck. Reach out earlier to get in the habit of connecting with and accessing support from others whether this is from other students, your professor, tutors, or learning center.
Yes, we are social beings, and planning our social time is an essential element of our mental health plan. Participate in online discussions, be sure to ask questions, speak out to help others in the group know your ideas, thoughts, and your interest in theirs. Set outside of study time, daily social time with loved ones, or new friends. This could be as simple as a 15-minute check-in with family or a walk in the park while on facetime. You decide but do take charge to nurture your social connection time daily.
7. BODY CARE
Sitting for endless hours at the computer clearly does not serve your body. Consider your daily plan for self-nourishment: how am I nourishing my body with food and fluids today, what body movement plan have I set for myself today: a walk, run, visit the gym, yoga? Place the latter in your calendar and stick with your plan.
Review your goals and remind yourself why you are taking the class and review other aspects of your life to be sure you’re getting your social time, not sitting for too long at your desk without breaks, and getting outside for fresh air. Each of these aspects of self-care will help you stay motivated and on track.
Online learning can be very challenging and requires extra care and attention to details and schedules beyond regular classroom learning. You’re taking your goals and learning into your own hands but remember, you are not alone. Be sure to reach out and connect with others because isolation is not okay and does not work to support you to thrive! School is important and you are a whole human being with needs that need to be acknowledged and met to support your wellness and your success!
We hope you find these tips helpful and we are here to support your wellness!