Managing a career and caring for a family is hard work; add on the extra pressure of learning online and students often find that their own welfare is forced to take a back seat. Sound familiar?
Here are some great tips for taking care of your mind, body and soul…
1. Watch your diet
When your time and energy is in demand from your workplace, family and study commitments it’s easy to get lazy with your food choices. And we totally understand this; it’s much quicker to call for a pizza and use the time saved on cooking for other tasks. However, pre-packaged and takeaway meals are almost always expensive, and high in fat, salt and calories—which aren’t ideal for long study sprints or your overall health.
To overcome this, our best piece of advice is to prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Pack healthy snacks to help you avoid the office vending machine and batch cook (and then freeze) healthy family meals at weekends. Make sure you drink lots of water, eat plenty of filling fruit and vegetables, and practise good portion control. But remember… the occasional treat is definitely OK!
2. Get moving!
We’ve all seen the headlines: ‘Sitting is the new smoking!’. It might seem like a melodramatic message, but the latest studies do seem to show that sitting for long periods of time can result in many health problems. And when you have textbooks to read and assignments to write, in addition to your usual commute and schedule, you might find that it’s difficult to find the time to exercise regularly.
Improving your fitness doesn’t have to be a huge commitment though; just taking a short walk will refresh your mind and body, and can even give you time to mull over an interesting concept from your course. Fitting exercise into your day can be easier than you think too: try cycling to work, walking the kids to school, take the stairs in the office or take a stroll in your lunch break. University of Essex Online students also have the option of listening to their e-textbooks using the ‘text to speech’ function, allowing you to turn your exercise sessions into study sessions!
3. Take care of your mental health
Stress, anxiety and depression are serious mental health issues that can affect anyone at any time in their life. It’s important to know how to spot the signs of these illnesses and what to do if you encounter them.
If you’re an online student who is feeling this way, talk to a Student Adviser; they will be able to offer help and advice on how best to manage your workload. They may also suggest that you take a study break for a while if they feel that you need it. Whatever happens though, you should never feel afraid or ashamed of asking for support.
4. Get your recommended amount of sleep
When assignment deadlines are looming, it’s tempting to stay up a little later to catch up on work. But for most adults, the recommended amount of sleep per night is 7-9 hours. A lack of sleep can have serious consequences including a bad mood, lack of focus and even (in the long term) obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
To avoid this, try to organise your day so that you’re completing your studies earlier in the day. Read our blog post on managing your time if you’re struggling to create a study schedule. We also recommend that you switch off your devices to avoid distractions at night, don’t study in bed and avoid caffeine in the evening.