Taking Care of Your Mental & Physical Health While Studying Online
Published on: January 23, 2022
There's no doubt that studying for an online degree is convenient, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is easier. Depending on what you are studying and your lifestyle, you may still find yourself with a hectic schedule. If you find yourself struggling to find a balance, you are definitely not alone, as this is something that all students deal with. Although many students drop out of college or university due to financial reasons, it is not uncommon for some to leave due to feeling stressed and overwhelmed. So, if you want to succeed in your online studies, it is important to take care of your mental and physical health. It won't be easy, but here are a few tips that will help you stay on the right track.
Maintain a Well-Balanced Diet
Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy and focused while studying. It is very tempting to reach for snacks or fast food if you are pressed for time or stressed, but doing so will only make things worse. Eating nutritional meals makes it easier to concentrate on your studies and won't leave you with an energy crash as with sugar-filled snacks. You don't have to deprive yourself entirely as the odd treat can still work great as a study reward, but moderation is key.
Don't Consume Too Much Caffeine
There's nothing wrong with the occasional cup of coffee, but in popular culture, caffeine is often portrayed as a magical cure for tiredness. Students trying to stave off tiredness often resort to coffee or energy drinks to keep them going, but this is not a good idea in the long run. According to Healthline, consuming too much caffeine can result in anxiety instead of alertness and have side effects such as insomnia, digestive issues, high blood pressure, and fatigue. (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-side-effects#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8).
Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is often the first thing that is sacrificed when trying to squeeze more hours into a day, but for the sake of your health, you should not do this. According to Sleep Foundation, the recommended hours of sleep for young adults as well as adults is at least seven to nine (https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need). They also recommend disconnecting from electronic devices for a half-hour or more before bed. You might think that by staying up later to study, you will do better, but lack of sleep can actually have adverse effects on your ability to learn, memorize, and recall.
Don't Skip Out On Exercise
When attending a brick-and-mortar campus, you might have to regularly walk between classes or stroll around during a break for exercise. When studying online, you'll be spending more time in front of your computer. It is easy to neglect physical activity in such a situation, but skipping out on exercise is not good for your health. Studies have proven that exercise is not just good for your physical well-being but also your mental health. Exercise can improve your concentration and memory as well as your mood and emotions. Make sure to schedule some breaks for exercise, and you'll find yourself returning to your studies calmer and more relaxed. It is even better if you can do your exercises outside to benefit from some fresh air. Exercising outdoors also has the benefit of much-needed vitamin D from sunlight, which is essential for mental and physical health.
Watch Your Posture
Studying online means that there will not be anybody watching over you or informing you if your posture is wrong. While it is essential to be comfortable while studying, you still need to make sure that you are maintaining a proper posture. If you don't, it will only result in aches and pains down the road. A good ergonomic chair can help with this, but keeping your back straight and your feet flat on the floor is essential.
Stay Connected With Friends and Family
Studying online is great but means you miss out on being surrounded by other students. Social interaction is still important, though, so make sure that you stay in contact with friends and family. It is easy to become a hermit if you study online, but no matter how introverted you are, you still need some social interaction for your mental health. Thankfully, there are more ways than ever before to stay in touch with other people, so take advantage of this to interact with others.
Make Some Time For Hobbies
It is not easy to make time for other activities when you are studying, especially if you work as well, but it is important to do something that makes you happy too. Studies have shown that engaging with a hobby that you enjoy can lower levels of depression and cause higher levels of positive psychosocial states (https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2009/09000/Association_of_Enjoyable_Leisure_Activities_With.5.aspx). Some people sees hobbies as a waste of time, but in addition to the health benefits, some hobbies can also make you more employable. For example, hobbies such as creative writing, photography, or learning new languages can help your job application stand out.
Be Realistic With Your Goals
The easiest way to lose motivation and doubt yourself is to set unrealistic goals. It is OK to have challenging goals, but they have to be reasonable too and not require you to sacrifice other things on this list to accomplish them.
Don't Be Scared To Ask For Help
If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or struggle with your studies, there is no shame in asking for help. Whether communicating with an academic advisor or simply chatting with a loved one, you'll feel a lot better after sharing your troubles. Studying online can feel very lonely and intimidating if you are used to traditional methods, but reaching out to others can make a world of difference.