Online learning has countless benefits when it comes to earning any college degree. However, stress can occasionally rear its ugly head and try to throw you off your game. This is especially true now in the midst of a global pandemic when life and society have been significantly altered.
If you're one of the millions of college students who has transitioned to all online courses, or you've been taking them for a while, check out these secrets to help you manage stress as an online learner.
1. Find a quiet place to work on your online learning courses.
Because you aren't in a regular classroom as an online learner, it's imperative to find a place that is comfortable and quiet for you to focus. This could be in a bedroom, in the kitchen, on a patio or balcony, or even at a park where you can listen to the birds chirp while reading an e-book for your criminal justice or social work class.
Being at home with parents, children, siblings, or pets can be quite distracting. Plus, many online classes require students to participate in interactive sessions on Skype, Zoom, and other web conferencing platforms. This means you might have to speak or present information verbally or even on video, not to mention intently listening in on your instructor and fellow classmates.
The key is to make everyone around you aware of the fact that you need a quiet location where you can concentrate and put your undivided attention toward your online learning requirements.
2. Identify and use more effective time management strategies.
While many online classes occasionally meet weekly or throughout the week at certain times through an online platform, most online courses require above-average time management skills on the part of the student. You likely don't have a set timeframe when you absolutely must be devoting your time to each specific online class, so it's important to map out how you use your time in an efficient manner.
Examples of time management tips for online learners include:
- Making a task calendar for yourself: Create a calendar for each online class you're in. Map out when specific assignments are due, when quizzes or exams will be held, and blocks of time to dedicate to studying.
- Delegating tasks to others: If your spouse or kids might be able to help you with simple tasks around the house or apartment, let them do so. This will give you a little more time to work on your online coursework.
- Staying organized: This can apply to your life in general. But in terms of online learning, make sure your workspace where you actually work on your online classes is free from clutter. Organize any textbooks, notebooks, and other items you might be printing out for your courses.
Get more time management tips for online learners here to help you minimize stress.
3. Connect with your instructors regularly.
Feeling overwhelmed with your online classes? Connect with your instructors. They are there to help guide you whenever you need assistance. Email, call, text, Skype, FaceTime, or use any other communication tool available to you to do this. A quick conversation about something that's bothering you in your course – or even in your life in general – can alleviate a good amount of stress immediately.
4. Connect with your fellow classmates regularly.
Get to know the other students in your classes. More than likely, they are dealing with some type of stress themselves, so it's a huge help to be able to relate to one another.
Plus, if you're struggling with some of the assignments in an online class, reach out to a fellow student to find out about how he or she is handling them. Perhaps you can collaborate, while still actually doing the work independently, in order to support each other throughout the class. Group projects are often part of online learning, which specifically lend themselves to this type of collaboration.
5. Connect with technical support, accessibility services, and other departments within your college or university that support online learning.
If you've never taken remote online classes before – or even if you have – there is a chance you could encounter some technological challenges. Nobody is immune from potential error messages, slow or lost Internet connections, and a variety of other issues that could crop up since no piece of technology works perfectly every second of the day.
The good news is that there is support for you. Don't hesitate to reach out to your school's technical support or IT team for any assistance at all. No question is too complicated or too basic. Having technical assistance for when you need it can be a huge stress reliever.
Also, if you are registered with an Office of Accessibility Services or a department with a similar purpose, be sure to contact someone from this team as well to ensure your online learning experience is accessible and meets your specific needs.
The bottom line here is that you should never feel alone. Your school should be able to provide any support you need as an online learner so you can be successful and ultimately earn your degree of choice. Having offered online learning options for over 20 years, Saint Leo University is proud to meet any needs that fall into this realm.
6. Make time for relaxation.
Carving out some time to relax and distress is critical, especially during a challenging time for everyone. Consider these relaxation options to make your online learning experience a little easier:
- Pull out a mystery book or open your Kindle and read something different from your academic reading.
- Consider meditation, yoga, and other breathing exercises.
- Call or FaceTime with your close friends and family members.
- Enjoy a food or dessert that you might normally try to avoid to keep the pounds off. During a stressful time, a little comfort food can't hurt.
7. Make time for exercise and physical activity.
You should never say you don't have enough time to exercise. In stressful times, you can still go for a jog or walk around the block, do jumping jacks or pushups, stretching, weight lifting, and use a variety of indoor exercise equipment.
Exercise can also do wonders for your mental acuity and can help you in your online coursework as well. Getting up and moving at least a little each day is a must for so many physical and mental reasons.