With online learning helping students retain between 25% to 60% more information than traditional learning, according to The Research Institute of America, it’s no wonder that so many students are sticking with or transferring to online learning. Also not surprising is the fact that the global e-learning market is anticipated to be faced with an annual developing growth rate of 16%.
Online learning is here to stay and growing. As a result, it’s time to start looking at all the way students can be supported while attending online school. Teaching students to pay attention to their self-care routines is one of these important priorities. Here are Excel High School’s tips for online students to help you prioritize self-care and maintain both your physical and mental health.
Maintain a Daily Schedule
Anyone who has attended school online knows that this advice can end up being a bit challenging after a while. Staying in your pajamas, having a little lie in, or just doing your work a bit later can be a wonderful treat once in a while – even once a week – but if a lack of schedule ends up being the rule rather than the exception, then you might find both your physical and mental health suffering.
Getting up at a set time every day allows your body to get used to the rhythm of your sleep/wake cycle. This isn’t to say that you can’t tailor your schedule to your own unique sleep patterns, but what you don’t want to do is sort of lounge around doing nothing for hours on end, staring at your ceiling while thinking about all the things you need to do. This can lead to some pretty serious anxiety.
Instead, set your alarm for a reasonable wake time each day, just like you would for an in-person academic setting. Be sure to maintain a reasonable bedtime, and get up and get dressed for your day. The great thing about EHS’s self-paced, flexible online programs is that you can arrange your day in the way that works best for you.
That means that instead of hopping straight online, you can add exercise right away when you get up to your routine, or you can schedule volunteer hours first thing in the morning instead. Exercise is an important part of your schedule if you want your mental and physical health to thrive. Scheduling time where you do for others is also a great way to boost your serotonin and help you keep a firm perspective about the good things in life.
Although your schedule might look different than other people’s schedules, the important point is to make sure you keep up with a routine. Our brains rely on us to maintain a schedule in order to keep us mentally healthy, so be sure to think about what schedule you’ll work best with and stick with it.
Separate Your Workspace
Maintaining a separate workspace for academics seems like an unnecessary step, but really, if your mind and body associate your bed with schoolwork and with sleep, a couple of side-effects might arise. First, you might start feeling sleepy while you’re trying to accomplish your academic goals, and secondly, you might have a hard time falling asleep at night.
Finding someplace where you can focus with fewer distractions is where to start when you’re setting up a workspace for school. You can have lots of choices though, and give yourself a chance to move from place to place between lessons. Want to work outside at a table or under a tree? As long as you don’t find yourself distracted, that’s a great way to spend some time in nature and will probably benefit your mental health as well! If you prefer to work at a desk in a quiet room, then you can do that, too. However, try to avoid working where you’ve got a game system or a tv that you’ll be tempted to spend “just a few more minutes” with, or you’re likely to find yourself more distracted than productive!
Spend Time Outdoors
You can always take your classwork outside as long as your internet connection and the weather allow you to, but it’s also important to spend some time in nature outside of school hours, too. According to BMC Public Health, “Among youth, many felt that spending time in nature positively impacted their mental health, with 51.6% mentioning that it made them ‘feel calm when I am out in nature’; 22.1% said that it relieved stress or ‘reduces my anxiety,’ and 17.1% felt that being in nature positively impacted their physical health and ‘makes me feel more active and in shape.’” The same study found that 87.8% wish they could spend more time in nature.
As a study from home student working with EHS’s flexible, self-paced program, you can make time to be outdoors. Taking breaks is an essential part of learning online, so step outside every day and stretch your legs; feel some wind, rain, or sun on your skin; and enjoy the many positive benefits of being outdoors.
Plan Time to Socialize
Another important part of self-care is spending time with friends and family. Even if you think you don’t need it, you do! Repeatedly, studies have found that to have a good sense of well-being, teens generally need about 5-6 hours of day to socialize. This doesn’t have to be in person, and it doesn’t have to always be with friends.
Working as a volunteer doing community service at an animal shelter or food bank counts, sitting with your family for a meal works, and visiting with friends while gaming online is considered socializing, too! Regardless of what it looks like to you, be sure you’re getting some time with friends and family as a part of your self-care routine.
When we say to practice hobbies, this doesn’t mean that you have to do arts and crafts, though there are plenty of benefits to crafting, crocheting, knitting, making jewelry, or working with clay. Art is an important part of brain development, so if you’re into any form of crafting or art as your hobby, be sure you’re spending time doing that during your day.
But if not, maybe you’re more into running or playing basketball. You could be on a traveling baseball or hockey team. Being involved in some activity that brings you joy is the key here. Self-care includes participating in activities that light you up, so if you’re not sure what that is for you, it’s time to explore!
Being intentional about your self-care when you’re an online student is really important. Life can become pretty isolated quickly if you don’t take specific and intentional steps to care for your mental and physical health. If you’re not sure where to start, at least set yourself a schedule and then add other factors in as you see that you’ve got more time than you thought you did to take care of yourself.
About Excel High School
Excel High School in an accredited online school that offers many different academic program options for student grade 6 through graduation. Our fully online, self-paced programs fit around your family’s schedule, and our support team is here help you along the way. If you’re not already a student with Excel High School but would like to learn more, feel free to check out our programs on our website. Still got questions? Feel free to reach out to us by text at 952-465-3700 or call us at 800-620-3844. Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you have and guide you to the best program for your individual needs.