The COVID-19 era has seen massive changes to education across the board. Colleges were forced to shut their doors as the virus spread, sending students home to learn remotely. While this was advantageous for some, others suffered from a lack of structure. It’s a lot different when you have to be in class every day. You’ll usually stick to a sleep schedule, and being in a physical classroom forces you to be more accountable since you’re in the presence of your peers and your instructor.
We’ve seen the rise of thousands of new online programs, and the medical field is one that’s been especially affected by this new trend. With so many new medical positions to fill, educational institutions are looking for ways to fast-track people into the industry. You can find medical assistant programs online, nursing programs, pharmacy tech programs, and much more.
But how do you maintain your sanity while working from home? In this guide, we’ll cover how to protect your mental health by managing stress in a study-from-home environment.
Protect Your Workspace
Perhaps the most important tip we can offer is to protect your workspace. Even if you live in a small apartment, having a dedicated, quiet workspace is crucial to improving your overall retention and the productivity of your study time. If you live with others, be sure they know that when the door is shut, you aren’t to be bothered. It can be difficult to set and enforce these boundaries with roommates, spouses, and especially small children, who might also be schooling from home. Do what you can—they do make door locks that are easy to install, after all.
The bottom line is that you’re protecting your workspace from distraction and invasion. The quieter and more personal your space is, the more you’ll be able to get done.
Protect Your Time
As important as protecting your space, protecting your time is something you must do when you’re working from home. That means setting a sleep schedule, following it, and attending classes/studying with the same frequency as if you were attending in-person classes. Protecting your time goes hand-in-hand with protecting your space. If the door is shut, let everyone know you have class until x time, or you’re studying for x number of hours.
Time is your most valuable asset when you’re studying from home, and the problem with being at home is that we get comfortable. It’s good to be comfortable, but we often become too comfortable with procrastination, falling out of good habits, and viewing our education as a stressor and a chore.
Be sure to minimize procrastination. The only thing you do when you’re procrastinating is create more stress for your mind to unravel. If you have a week to do a project, work on it a little bit at a time instead of all at once the night before. You won’t be providing your best work, and you’ll be stressed out. That’s a bad combination for higher education!
Now that you’ve protected your space and your time from outside influence and yourself, it’s time to address your biggest enemy: distractions. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes, and, when something is stressing you out, distractions are often easier to fall victim to. Yes, you could stop what you’re doing and scroll Facebook…but then you’ll lose 30-45 minutes of productive time. Often, a single small interruption is enough to throw off concentration for much longer.
Don’t multi-task. Instead, focus on one thing at a time. Put your phone on silent if you have to. Don’t even open your social media tabs. Focus on what you’re doing, then reward yourself with those pleasures once you’ve finished.
Find A Healthy Work/Study/Personal Time Balance
If you’re working and studying all day every day, you’re going to experience burnout. Burnout is a very real problem, and usually occurs when you’ve had the gas pedal to the floor for too long and your body and mind are saying, “No more, please!”
We’ve all experienced burnout at some point, and it can seriously affect both mental health and performance a work/school. The solution? You need to make time for yourself. Schedule break times. Take a bit of time off. Reward your efforts with some of your time. We’re taught that we should always be working toward our dreams, constantly grinding, pushing, and going above and beyond. While it’s good to put in significant effort, the only thing you achieve by never taking a break is wearing yourself out.
Stress management while studying from home requires some self-awareness. You’ll need to be aware of when you’re feeling burnt-out, and work to protect both your time and space. Hang in there! You can do it!