In recent years the university experience has changed significantly. Many higher education institutions now offer study opportunities online, resulting in many more students being able to access the programmes. This has revolutionised accessibility to university education and offers flexibility to study around work or other commitments. Whilst this is mostly a positive shift towards modernising university education, the practicalities of studying for a degree entirely online require strong self-management skills, in order to maintain good mental health and wellbeing.
At SSBR, we identify the main struggles that our students often face whilst learning at distance. Our professional faculty and support staff are always on hand to help students to stay on track.
Here are our top 10 tips for looking after your mental health whilst studying online:
1. Get plenty of sleep
It might sound obvious, but sleep is a miracle cure for breaking a negative mindset. It’s often easy to neglect to have a solid 8 hours sleep with a busy mind, lots of social commitments and the temptation to trawl social media for hours on end before bed. But there’s a reason why 8 hours is recommended as the optimum sleep quota. It enables your brain and body to function more effectively.
Everything is usually that little bit brighter, once breaking the momentum of your thoughts by sleeping.
2. Keep your study environment tidy
When working and studying from home, it’s difficult to focus when you’re sat in clutter and chaos. It creates a diversion of focus that you just don’t need on top of everything else! Getting into the habit of spending 10 minutes tidying up your workspace each day will also help to declutter your mind.
3. Exercise daily
For most, the idea of dedicating 20 minutes a day to exercise seems near impossible. Life can sometimes seem so busy that there’s just not enough hours in the day to complete all of your allocated tasks, let alone exercise. However, it’s been clinically proven that 20 minutes of light exercise is key to transforming low moods. This doesn’t mean working up a sweat every day, a simple brisk walk to the shop and back is enough to release endorphins which help concentration, happiness and aid better sleep.
4. Eat and drink healthy
What you use to fuel your body can have a significant impact on your energy levels. Serotonin is the hormone in our body that stabilizes our mood and feelings of wellbeing including happiness. 90% serotonin receptors are located in the gut. Overconsumption of high sugar, ultra-processed foods and alcohol are difficult for your gut to break down, preventing the serotonin receptors from working effectively. Eating a well-balanced diet and moderating alcohol consumption will improve your ability to stay focus and remain positive.
5. Schedule some time for yourself
Work and social pressures can begin to mount up quickly, particularly whilst studying for a qualification. It’s important to find an outlet that helps you to detach for at least 20 minutes a day, in order to relieve stress. This could be watching a favourite show, listening to music, meditating or creating something. But what’s important is that it’s something that you want to be doing, rather than something that you feel you should be doing.
6. Set goals, but realistic ones
Remote studying is the ultimate test of time management. Without the dependence on a class timetable or campus infrastructure, the responsibility falls on the student to get work completed on time. Writing a regular, realistic and achievable to-do list is a great way of breaking down this mammoth task. Whether your goal for that day is to complete part of an assignment…or to cook yourself a healthy meal, feeling like you’re on top of things will help to remain positive.
Try not to overload yourself with work, otherwise, you may start to feel overwhelmed rather than productive.
7. Do what suits you…don’t be afraid to say no!
Time is a precious commodity, especially when you have a degree to complete. Don’t take too much on and avoid saying yes to things just to please others. There may be numerous offers to join study groups and online social activities. As much as it’s important to connect with other students, it’s equally as important to evaluate if it fits in with your priorities that day. Try to maintain a good balance of work and downtime.
8. Be conscious of personal device usage
Our personal devices are now an extension of our bodies. If we leave the house without our phone, we can feel like a part of us is missing! They have become an essential life tool, providing us with instant data at our fingertips…but they can also be incredibly destructive as a distraction and a negative influence. Reading a message or a post has the ability to change your mindset and mood instantly. Going down a rabbit hole with social media scrolling can eat up hours of time. If you identify that this happens to you, make sure to remove the temptation to be distracted and leave your device in a place away from where you’re studying.
9. Stay in contact
Sometimes keeping in touch with friends, colleague and peers can seem difficult when studying online, but it’s important to establish some social connections. Talking to like-minded people can significantly improve your mood and happiness. Many humans need to feel a sense of belonging without realising it. Try to schedule time within your week to reach out to someone, non-work related. It may well give you that extra boost to power through your tasks that day.
10. If you’re struggling, take action early
If you’re studying within an educational institution, you have access to an instant support system. They are as responsible for helping students to maintain good well-being as they are for helping them to gain good grades. You’ll always feel a little bit better after sharing a problem. The pressure of studying remotely can become intense if left to build up over time. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, reach out to a professor or one of the university staff to point you in the right direction. It may save you from weeks or months of unnecessary suffering. It may feel like a daunting process, but you’d be surprised at how unshockable university staff are.
SSBR are committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of their students studying their online programmes. Our professional faculty are highly emotionally intelligent and have vast experience of helping people throughout their careers.
Contact our team to find out more: