September is well underway and with it is likely deadlines approaching and the workload is picking up. Fear not! To help mitigate stress that may accompany the new school year, there are certain habits and practices that can be followed to ensure a smooth transition to online school. Creating routines, avoiding procrastination and including self-care are some of the many ways in which you can gain control during this time of uncertainty and set yourself up for a successful academic year.
Have a routine
When you create a routine and stick with it, this creates both organization and structure. Studies have shown that this can decrease stress levels and promote overall wellness. There are also many other benefits that come with having a routine. For one, you can develop positive habits. This can be something as simple as getting out of bed and changing into clothes other than your PJ’s (which may sound easy, but with school online can be quite the challenge ). Furthermore, having structure can create a sense of normalcy and help the day go by with less uncertainty. There are many ways to create a routine, but I try to keep it simple and remember to follow four key points: make a to-do list, prioritize, include breaks for self-care, and remove distractions. Not only does having a to-do list solidify your goals for the day, but it also gives a little boost of encouragement when you get to cross something off and know you’ve accomplished a task. Prioritizing the to-do list is also important – this allows you to triage your load and assess what is most important versus what can be put on the back burner. Do you have a project due tomorrow? Do you have an afternoon meeting you need to prep for? These would be things closer to the top of the to-do list while something like an essay due in 4 weeks might sit closer to the bottom. Self-care breaks are essential, and I will talk more about this topic in a bit. What I will say for now is that having a healthy work-life balance is the ultimate key for success. Finally, remove distractions. Distractions come in many different forms but ultimately impact your ability to work efficiently. Finding a quiet, clean workspace and putting your phone on ‘do not disturb’ can make your study time drop from 5 hours to 3 hours.
There is no denying that it can be easy to procrastinate with everything now that school is part of our virtual world. We no longer have to physically be on campus to attend a lecture, making it easy to say, “I’ll get to it later” and spend the entire afternoon on social media, baking, or doing anything other than watching lectures or completing schoolwork. With a routine and consistent schedule, you can set aside time for school while also penciling in times for activities that would otherwise serve as a means of procrastinating. Rather than baking all day to avoid studying, try scheduling your afternoon for studying and then take the evening off for baking. Having this type of daily structure can ensure you are efficient with your time and have room for lots of breaks too!
Building self-care into your routine can improve mood and well-being. Having ‘me time’ is important! Look for small opportunities throughout the day to include self-care. This can be accomplished in many different ways. For example, you could go for a 10-minute walk outdoors between two classes (e.g. I just had class in Minto and need to make it to Southam Hall in 5 minutes!!!). Self-care can also come in the form of deep breathing, exercising, or even taking a couple minutes to call a friend. My personal favourite is to take a random break when I feel overwhelmed, make a cup of mint tea and do a face mask. When building self-care into your routine, a trick I found useful was to reflect and audit at the end of each week. I ask myself what worked for me and what did not, then change my self-care practices accordingly. It is important to remember that we are all unique and some things may work for you but not for others (and vice versa) – this is normal! Take the time to find out what works for you and your individual needs.
Finally, I want to end by saying that these unprecedented times are challenging for us all. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and always remember to seek help when needed. The Carleton community is here for you.
Be sure to check out our Instagram, @carletonwellness, to stay up to date with our latest wellness tips!
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