Your environment and personal habits can directly support your study time and goals as an online college student. On-campus students can be more likely to interact with peers and there is a special environment to prime you for learning. As a remote student, you don’t automatically have these things in place and will need to create a system that keeps you productive, healthy and happy. These six steps can help you take action to maintain your physical, mental and emotional well-being while preventing burnout, fatigue and loneliness:
- Establish a sleep schedule.
It’s great to have flexibility in your schedule, but it can make us prone to bad sleep habits like staying up too late and going to bed at varying times. Develop a sleep routine to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. The CDC recommends that adults get seven or more hours each night.1
- Limit blue light exposure.
Electronics like computer monitors, tablets and smartphones emit a blue light that looks white. The blue light is artificial and can throw off your internal sleep-wake body clock, or circadian rhythm. Other sources of blue light include televisions, gaming systems, and LED lightbulbs.2
Reduce your exposure by installing a blue light filtering app on your devices or switching to night mode. Turning off your devices two to three hours before bedtime to prevent sleep disruption.2
- Adjust your workspace.
Stay comfortable while you study by improving your office’s ergonomics, or method of optimizing your workspace efficiency. These simple changes can help you create a space that promotes comfort and productivity:3
- Support your back with an adjustable chair that curves to the shape of your spine.
- Sit so that your feet touch the floor.
- Keep your laptop or computer monitor at arm’s length away from your body.
- Place supplies such as your phone, printer and pens within reach.
- Schedule daily break times.
Establishing boundaries between your personal and professional life is vital. Make sure you schedule a time to take breaks just like you would in a conventional office setting. Take a lunch break outside or go for a brief walk to stretch your muscles and get your blood flowing. Stepping away from your office might leave you feeling refreshed and motivated to get back to work.
Regular physical activity improves alertness, supports cognitive function and reduces fatigue. Manage your stress and strengthen your immune system by adding exercise to your daily routine.4 Consider a gym membership or virtual exercise classes.
Pursuing your degree online can include community. Stay connected with your classmates by organizing video chats. There are many resources in the AIU mobile app and on social media. Other than communicating with your instructor, make it a point to engage socially, as well.
1. “How Much Sleep Do I Need?” CDC. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html (Visited 08/26/2020).
2. “How Blue Light Affects Your Sleep.” WebMD. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-blue-light (Visited 08/26/2020).
3. “Office ergonomics: Your how-to Guide.” MayoClinic. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169 (Visited 08/26/2020).
4. “Physical Activity Reduces Stress. ADA. Retrieved from: https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st (Visited 08/26/2020).