Saturday 8 August 2020

How To Care For Your Mental Health at Home: Creating a Uni-Life Balance While Taking Online Courses

Alyssa shares six tips for looking after your wellbeing whilst studying online.

- Alyssa

Even though you may have thought you’d adjusted to your university routine, the current necessity of learning from home can make it much harder to find a university-life balance. 

COVID-19 has changed many of our plans — especially when it comes to university. For example, I’ll be pursuing a Masters completely online — something I never thought I would do, and something that will definitely be a different experience than my undergrad days. Just as much as it’s important to self-regulate and keep up with studies, it’s also essential for online uni students to pay close attention to our mental health in this more isolated lifestyle.

How can you care for your mental health while attending university online? Fortunately, you will have many of the resources you need at home — and your university can still help. Here are my tips for creating a uni-life balance while studying online. 

1. Select a Manageable Course Load
While you may not be limited to working a certain number of hours while you study, it’s nevertheless challenging to balance your classes and outside responsibilities. Resist the temptation to think, “I can’t go to the pub anyway — I may as well hit the books,” if this mindset results in overloading your schedule. Even if you’re a workaholic like me and think you can handle extra work, make sure you schedule a manageable course load and still make time to relax between studies. Everyone needs some downtime, even if it only consists of watching Netflix in your PJs. 

2. Discover Your Campus Counselling Resources
If you previously relied on campus counselling resources, don’t think they have disappeared. You may need to search harder to locate them, but once you do, they can offer valuable advice for navigating these uncertain times. I was influenced by Melissa Manzi, a mental health counsellor I saw online, who advised students to reach out for assistance with newly found academic struggles due to the lack of in-person collaboration on campus. Your university likely offers similar support services via email, phone, or video conference.

3. Make Time for Healthy Eating and Exercise
Don’t consider quarantine as the time to binge on junk food — no matter how comforting it may seem. Even though I don’t always feel motivated, I’ve been using lockdown to focus more on my physical health, not less — and it’s helped me care for my mental health, as well. I recommend keeping yourself feeling your best by learning how to prep healthy meals on your slow days to feed yourself nutritiously when life gets hectic. Strive to take at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Take a brisk walk after meals, bike to the grocery store or put on music and dance around your living room.

4. Limit Your Media Exposure
Your nervous system doesn’t recognise the difference between a real physical threat and the anxiety you feel when seeing more bad news online. In one study, only 14 minutes of watching negative programming resulted in anxious or sad moods. Limiting your viewing of coronavirus coverage is a top mental health tip for 2020 online university life. If you use social media, it could be helpful to set a timer before you start scrolling.

5. Schedule Social Time
When it comes to real-life social interaction, you need it to keep your sense of balance. When I make my schedule for the week, I will include time for making a call to distant best friends or attending that virtual chess club meeting. Look into joining online student groups at your university and stay in touch with friends and family — it makes a big difference.

6. Get Your Zzz's
Scientists estimate that 65 to 90% of people that struggle with depression also experience sleep difficulties. By the same token, a lack of sleep can take a negative toll on your full-body health. I aim for seven to nine hours nightly, which helps me experience better mood and energy.

Take Care of Your Mental Health at Home While Attending Online University
It’s challenging to take care of your mental health at home while maintaining a university-life balance. But by caring for your body holistically and locating campus resources, you can succeed in what promises to be a curious semester — remember, we’re all going through this together.
blog here.

For more information Student Space is here to make it easier for you to find the support you need during the coronavirus pandemic.

For more advice about managing your wellbeing whilst studying online, visit the Student Minds website. 

Hi, I'm Alyssa, an education and student life blogger with a passion for connecting with students of all sorts. Making positive self-care choices like these has kept me grounded through school and life - and I hope to help other students succeed, stay healthy and make the most of their university experience. Follow along on my blog, Syllabusy. 

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