Winter Wellbeing While Studying From Home
Choosing distance learning and home study was just one of several options open to students before this year. However, in 2020 many more institutions have opted for an online-only model of teaching and learning. This was no doubt accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has been on the rise for while. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of graduate students undertaking a fully online course of study rose by over 20%. With online and blended learning models here to stay, how can students ensure they give their personal wellbeing as much attention as their studies?
While course content and overall expectations may remain the same, studying and working from home presents new challenges. These challenges may be exacerbated as those of us in the northern hemisphere move into the winter months. Here are some tips for maintaining your mental and physical health and wellbeing while staying on top of your studies.
Stay connected off-screen
The novelty of video calling has lost its shine the longer we have been studying and working from home. That said, we still want to find a way to connect with friends and family. If you’re already spending a lot of your study time looking at screens, you’re less likely to want to do the same in your social time. So how can you stay social without facing a screen-overload?
The temptation to simply fire off a text or an email is strong. That said, there is something to be said for connecting over a phone call. In a recent study from University of Texas at Austin, participants felt significantly more connected to others when they spoke on the phone rather than texting or emailing. The study also disproved the belief that phone calls take longer or are a more awkward way of communicating.
Picking up the phone is a habit that many of us have fallen out of. In a time when staying connected is more important than ever, it could be a great one to build up again. As one of the researchers from the Austin study said, ‘We’re being asked to maintain physical distance but we still need these social ties for our wellbeing.’
Move for your mind
When the days are shorter and colder, it can be easy to spend our time cooped up inside. Sometimes, you might open your laptop and not look up again until it’s dark outside. While it’s tempting to hibernate through these darker months, studies have shown the overwhelmingly positive benefits of movement for our minds.
Keeping active has been scientifically proven to improve your mood and concentration. A recent study revealed that walking, running or cycling for as little as two minutes could help improve brain function and memory for up to two hours after. Rest assured that you don’t have to run a marathon to help your focus. You can help boost your brain in the same time it takes to make a cup of coffee.
Exercising outdoors – so called ‘green exercise’ – has been seen to further enhance our capacity for memory and focus. Moreover, getting outside improves mental wellbeing, lower stress and reduced feelings of anxiety. Some studies, as reported by the World Economic Forum, showed that spending as little as ten minutes a day outside helped improve students’ mood and self-esteem.
Create your winter routine
The days may be shorter, but it’s still important to create and stick to a study routine during the winter. After a number of months spent studying from home, you may have already figured out a routine that works for you. During winter, think about how you can adapt to make sure you’re still getting the most out of your day. Can you move your post-class walk to the morning to benefit from the shorter daylight hours? What about making a set time every week to catch up with friends and family? Or maybe you want to make the most of your quieter social schedule and focus on a creative project? Take a look at your week and consider how the move into winter might impact on your schedule.
If you’ve not yet established a study from home routine that works for you, start with the basics. Set out your weekly commitments and then look at the time you have around them. Prioritise fresh air, making time for exercise, regular mealtimes and connecting with others.
Here to help
As we continue to spend an increasing amount of time in our homes, we must consider how this shift in studying and working impacts on our personal wellbeing. We are all dealing with constant change, but what remains is the importance of prioritising our physical and mental health.
Here at UBIS, we encourage you to reach out to Student Services and bodies like the Student Council if you have concerns or questions about any aspect of student life, both personally or academically. While this year continues to pose new challenges, we are committed to supporting our students. We are here to help you enjoy a positive and fulfilling learning experience, no matter where in the world you are studying from.