The spread of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, is changing what we consider normal. We’re practicing social distancing to try to slow the spread of the virus, and in many parts of the world, that also includes shutting down schools and making the switch to online learning. While this can be a useful tool to keep education from being interrupted, it can also make it more difficult for students to maintain their mental health.
If you’re switching to online college during coronavirus or have been working on completing an online degree all along, what can you do to help maintain your mental health while we wait for things to get back to normal?
Set a Regular Schedule
Have you heard about how important it is to create a work-life balance? The same rules apply to college classes. If you’re in school, then that is your job, and you need to make sure you’re separating your schoolwork from your home life. That becomes more challenging if you’re at home, especially as many people are self-isolating and staying indoors as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus.
If you’re working on classwork from home, make sure you’re setting a regular schedule and sticking to it. That makes it easier to balance the new stressors of online classwork with the rest of your life.
Avoid Schoolwork Before Bed
Online classwork means you’re going to spend plenty of time in front of your computer while you type up essays, complete classes, and talk to classmates or teachers remotely. This is another reason why you should be setting up a regular schedule. If you wait to start your work until just before bed, the blue light from your computer screen could be negatively affecting your circadian rhythm.
Not getting enough sleep because your computer is keeping you awake can harm your mental health. The two things are tied closely to one another, with chronic sleep problems harming your well-being. If you’re concerned about your mental health, make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night.
Virtually Connect With Classmates
Even if we weren’t supposed to practice social distancing for COVID-19, online learning can be socially isolating in general. Instead of being in a classroom, surrounded by friends and classmates, we’re at home, either alone or only surrounded by our families. However, even if you’re not in the classroom, that doesn’t mean that you’re no longer part of a class or a community.
Make it a point to virtually connect with the other students in your class, as well as your teachers. Don’t underestimate the power of a video chat when people are feeling lonely and isolated during this crisis. You may already have an online forum designed for students — take advantage of it.
Utilize Online Mental Health Resources
One of the biggest mental health problems college students may face in the coming weeks is a lack of access to resources. College campuses usually have staff on hand that can help if you’re experiencing any issues, something that you aren’t going to be able to access while they are shuttered.
Thankfully, there are plenty of mental health resources available over the phone and online, from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to online advocacy groups and virtual therapy, thanks to telemedicine. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. There are resources out there to help you maintain your mental health and online classes, even if you can’t leave your house due to quarantine or self-isolation.
Maintaining Mental Health and Online Learning
If you’re finishing your semester at home because of COVID-19 or pursuing your degree online, taking care of your mental health while you’re studying is one of the most important things you can do. It’s especially essential as we learn to navigate the new normal that’s been presented to us by the coronavirus.
It might be weeks or longer before things can return to normal, so the best thing we can do today is to take things one day at a time and remember that this, too, shall pass. Remember to be patient, prioritize your health, and still focus on your studies during this time.
About the Author: With a passion for education and student lifestyle, writer and blogger Alyssa Abel makes it her mission to offer helpful, well-informed resources for students and teachers everywhere. Read more of her work on Syllabusy.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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