You’re spent. Day after day engaging in online courses, followed by online research, followed by writing papers on your laptop, followed by online tests and you probably feel like most of your life is lived INSIDE of your computer – rather than in the real world. You thought that not having to get fully dressed and physically move your body from class to class would be a breeze, but oddly enough, every hour spent at home and on your laptop has left your more tired than ever.
That’s just it, working from home is not a break. In fact, studies are finding that everyone is likely doing more work than ever from home. Sure we don’t have to brush the hair in the back of our head as often – because who’s going to see it or care – but sitting for hours in front of a screen alone – often within the same limited space day after day – is actually quite draining. Thankfully, taking frequent breaks is not only heavily recommended by professionals but also super beneficial to your health and your study habits. So here are a few of the best kinds of breaks you definitely should take during your online learning.
Take A Break from Your Computer and Phone Screen
Eye strain, blurred vision, stiff neck, headaches. These are all symptoms of spending too much time in front of a screen. Feeling fatigued, even though you had an amazing night’s rest and have only moved from your bed to your desk today? Well, if you’ve spent several hours in front of your laptop or scrolling on your phone, you could be experiencing “screen fatigue” a common condition that means your eyes are tired as heck from jumping around and trying to focus over and over again. A more scientific-y definition can be found here.
At a minimum, take a break and spend five minutes away from a screen for every hour you spend in front of one – this includes time away from your laptop, TV, your cell phone, and video games. Grab a snack, get water, or chat (positively) with your roommate or a family member for a boost of “feel good” endorphins. If you’re pulling an all-nighter for a test or stuck in back to back online classes and it’s difficult to physically step away, opt for the 20/20/20 rule. After 20 minutes of screen time, look 20 feet away (out the window or at an object across the room), for 20 seconds to give your eyes a break. Taking notes by hand can also give your eyes a natural break from the screen during your online studies.
Go for A Walk Outside
To break up the monotony of sitting in the same place and facing the same direction for hours on end during your online learning and classwork, take a walk outside, even if it’s just for a short while. Not only beneficial to your health physically, researchers have found that taking a simple outside stroll provides us with numerous mental health benefits as well – including feeling more alert, more confident, less tense, or anxious, feeling happier and feeling more energized. Going for a walk outside makes it all-around easier for you to settle back into your schoolwork, with a fresh, positive mindset, and focus longer on the task at hand.
A study published by Stanford researchers also found that going for a walk could give your innovative juices a jumpstart, and help you better reapproach your writing, brainstorming and other projects that may require creative thinking and clever ideas.
Take A Power Nap
If you’re feeling worn out, fatigued, or unfocused, a 10-20-minute nap can be **chef’s kiss**. But please nap with an alarm set, because any longer than that and you’ve just entered the sleepy danger zone. While an actual 10-20 power nap can help you reboot – and increase your productivity and ability to once again focus on tasks and schoolwork, a nap any longer than twenty minutes- think a panicked bug-eyed leap into the air because you’ve just convinced yourself it’s a whole different day – may leave you feeling discombobulated and more beat than you were before you napped. You may also be less likely to fall back asleep at a normal hour when bedtime rolls around. So, 10-20 minutes. No longer!
To help break up the enormous amount of time you’re spending in front of a screen and reconnect with the world… or just yourself in general, try giving mediation a shot. Not only can meditation help you break away from the online learning tedium – it can help you relax and focus better on your studies and has also been linked to helping with other health issues such as fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia and high blood pressure. There are so many benefits to meditating and all it takes to reap them is sitting down quietly and breathing for a few minutes. Of course, there’s a little more to it than just that, but it’s all very…very…relaxing and rewarding.
To give meditation a go, visit Headspace’s Youtube page and try out a few 1-5 minute mini-meditation sessions or take advantage of the full app and student pricing of $9.99 for the year (Reg. $69.99!) And no, we have no affiliation with the service. I am recommending it because I have and use the app myself and have greatly benefited from it during this insanely stress-filled year.