Here are a couple tips to help with student burnout
By Kate Vincent, Staff Writer
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in many ways and as students, the biggest impact on our studies has been the shift from in-person classes to online learning. There were mixed reactions across the board when post-secondary institutions confirmed the year-long shift to online classes.
Some students felt disheartened and frustrated. Everyone processes information differently, but the lack of in-class discussion appeared bleak to many. Some students have even deferred their programs until things go back to “normal.” Many others have resigned to the idea of online learning, planning to simply put their heads down and get through it.
Yet, some students felt something akin to hope — the introverted ones. The ones who sit in the back row and rarely raise their hand. The quiet ones who enjoy working on their own and seem to have a supernatural ability to finish all their readings, required or not. For some, the horizon looked clear from traffic, parking, slow walkers in the hallway and never-ending line-ups at Tim Hortons. For those select few, the idea of online learning sounded really, really good.
Perhaps the first few days of Google meetings, spent relaxing in bed with Mr. Whiskers and wearing pajamas while “Schitt’s Creek” quietly played in the background, was fun for even the most hesitant of online learners. But then days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Now, as the screen glare of your laptop is waking you up from your umpteenth nap of the day, you realize the thought of sitting in bed listening to another instructor call out someone’s name to empty air space may be what you have to look forward to for what feels like years to come. And that thought is… exhausting.
Online student burnout is real. Your back hurts. Your eyes twitch at night. You are running out of snack ideas and even your cat is getting sick of you. The lack of movement, social interaction and another app workout missed makes it almost impossible to sleep at night. Days are blurring together and no matter how much coffee you drink, you still feel really, really tired. You are not alone.
Plenty of research has been done on how to avoid burnout. Here are some tips and tricks that may be helpful next time you wake up with drool on your keyboard.
Establish a routine
And stick with it. A fairly consistent wake time, scheduled meals and organized relaxation time can help your daily life feel less like an inconsistent blob of time.
Remember those online workouts you swore you would do to come out of this pandemic looking like you’ve spent the past year at the gym? Yeah, me either. But, spending even just 20 minutes a day walking, moving and sweating can make a huge difference in how you feel, sleep and build immunity (which we all want right now).
Put your phone away
I repeat, put your phone away. Even if it’s just for an hour or two a day. Give your brain a break from the constant influx of information so that it can reset and restore.
Find a hobby
Read a fantasy novel, or take up crocheting, chess or puzzling. Find something you can focus on once in a while that is not directly related to your studies. It just helps give your life purpose outside of school. Netflix and Snapchat do not count.
Eat nutrient dense food
Craving sugar, carbs and alcohol is common when we are stressed and/or bored, which makes these extended hours at home prime time to pig out. Don’t feel bad when you do — it’s gonna happen, folks — but perhaps every once in a while, reach for the rice chips and hummus instead of the Doritos. You may notice a shift in how you feel and focus.
How can more sitting counterbalance hours of sitting? Let me explain. Meditation activates your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and helps to calm your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). Not only will a regular meditation practice reduce anxiety and improve sleep, but it can also help lengthen your attention span. Just one more three-hour lecture…
Be kind to yourself
If there is anything you take away from this article, let it be this. This is a global pandemic. It is more than okay not to feel okay. It is normal to feel anxious. It is completely fine to feel sad. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel and chill when you need to chill.
You do not have to “become better” right now. You just need to make it through. One day at a time. The most important thing right now is to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Remember this is temporary and no matter what you’re doing, it is enough.