Online learning offers lots of benefits and convenience for college students in all walks of life.

However, spending large amounts of time in front of your computer can pose some unique challenges.

Here's what you can do to stay healthy and happy throughout each semester of your web-based college degree program

1. Keep your workspace clean.

Even though you might be conducting your studies, homework, exams, and other course projects from the comfort of your home or apartment, you should still keep your work area clean. This means cleaning and disinfecting your computer's mouse, keyboard, monitor, and other items you handle. It's still easy to spread germs you pick up from outside your residence, putting you at risk for catching a bug.

Also, wash your hands with soap and water regularly. Use hand wipes. Keep food and drinks away from your study area. These may sound like common sense practices, but it's amazing how people forget about them because they're so wrapped up in other things.

2. Take a stroll – and some deep breaths.

In any environment, college courses can be quite a strain on your brain. That's why as an online learner, you should take breaks at times simply by getting up and taking a walk outside. Taking a stroll outside – or even just around the house – can reduce monotony, boost mood, and help you focus. It's also a good idea to look away from the computer periodically to give your eyes a rest.

Take some deep breaths when you're stressing to complete an assignment and hearing that unforgettable '80s song "Under Pressure" on repeat in your head. Deep breathing can quickly calm the nerves.

3. Exercise.

College students should try to get in some regular exercise. This means getting up from the computer or your textbooks and moving.

Perhaps you have an on-campus gym at the school where you're taking online classes that is free for students to use. Maybe you just have a treadmill or elliptical on your patio. To help you succeed in your classes, your mind can greatly benefit from regular physical activity.

Free exercises include push-ups, jumping jacks, or even simply stretching your arms and legs.

4. Eat right.

Writing term papers at the last minute or cramming for a final exam can take a toll on your body. These activities can also throw off your eating schedule. So, make an effort to eat a balanced diet during the semester. Instead of grabbing some quick fast food, take a few minutes to put together a healthier meal from store-bought groceries. These days, there are also healthy food delivery services for convenience.

5. Connect with your instructors and fellow students.

Because taking online courses can be a bit lonely at times for some students, it's important for your overall happiness to make connections with your professors and fellow students in your classes.

Consider these activities:

  • Participate in any online discussions.
  • E-mail your instructors and fellow students
  • Take advantage of any Skype or teleconference opportunities for face-to-face connections.
  • Visit your school's campus if it's convenient enough to attend events, check out the bookstore, meet with a professor in-person,etc.

6. Block out regular time for your coursework.

If you're an online learner, there's a good chance you have at least one job and possibly a family, a military career, or other time-consuming obligations. As such, you should have time blocked out on your calendar for completing course assignments. This could be one hour each day, two hours every other day, or a few hours on the weekend or on one of your days off during the week.

Don't try to cram in too much study time at once because you'll get burned out – and maybe even sick.

7. Get adequate sleep.

Our bodies need enough sleep to function properly. Most of us need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

When you're working through calculus problems for your online math course or trying to write code for a computer science class, you have to be rested up to do these things accurately and efficiently.

It's even more imperative to get ample sleep before major exams, such as mid-terms and finals.

What Strategies Do You Use?

In a comment below, tell us what strategies you use to stay healthy and happy as an online student.