In celebration of World Mental Health Day 2020, our intern, Chairin, shares advice on how to take care of your mental health during remote learning.
If there is something that people seem to promptly forget as soon as they graduate from school, it’s that being a student can be very stressful. Juggling multiple courses, assignments, and exams—sometimes on top of a student job and other commitments—can make even the most motivated student feel overwhelmed.
To make the situation even worse for students who were already stressed out, college-age students and younger students alike have reported increased levels of stress and anxiety since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This seems to be due in large part to the stress of remote learning. The loss of routine and structure that traditional classrooms provide, and the social isolation caused by decreased time spent interacting with peers and teachers are also contributing factors.
The negative cycle of school-related stress
When you are stressed, you are more likely to be unable to focus on work. As a result, you put things off. But as we all know from experience, avoiding school work due to stress and anxiety is not a good idea. It can put you in a negative spiral where you put off completing a task because you are stressed, which in turn makes the task seem even more overwhelming.
How the negative cycle of school-related stress works.
You can reduce stress and anxiety by assessing your time management and study strategies, and making improvements where possible. Here are some tips to change your remote learning experience for the better.
1. Ask for help
Many people who are struggling with school don’t make meaningful changes. They just continue with their same study methods, telling themselves that they will study harder. However, this strategy often backfires, because you are simply putting more pressure on yourself.
Instead, talk to your friends or trusted adults about what you are going through. Talking about the things that stress you can make you feel better, and others may even have advice on how to tackle the challenges you are facing.
2. Break down an overwhelming task into manageable chunks
Sometimes studying for a midterm or writing an essay can feel so overwhelming that you don’t know where to start. Rather than trying to finish an assignment all at once, break it down and make a plan to work a little bit at a time.
There are many ways to break down a task into more manageable chunks, such as setting weekly milestones or creating daily to-do lists. For example, if you are writing an essay, write down an outline or tackle the first paragraph. If you are studying for a test, focus on studying one chapter (or one Quizlet set) at a time.
The Pomodoro method is another well-known way of breaking work into smaller chunks. The original method calls for working on a task in 25-minute intervals separated by 5-minute breaks, but you can try different intervals to find what is best for you. Some may find 40 minutes of work and 20 minutes of rest most efficient, while others might find that 15-minute work intervals and 5-minute breaks works best for them. This method not only helps you portion work into smaller tasks you can get done within the set time, but also reminds you to take breaks in between your study sessions.
One of our new Quizlet Plus features, Progress, can also help you break down your studying. The Progress dashboard shows you how many terms you have learned so far, and how many you have left. You can click on any of the categories (Not Studied, Still Learning and Mastered) to study only those terms in Learn.
3. Study together with friends, even when you are apart
Virtual study sessions can be a great way to keep each other accountable and focused. They can also help you stay connected with friends when learning remotely.
Set up a few recurring group calls with friends to study or do work together. If you’re using Quizlet to study for a class you have with friends, make sure to share your sets with them. To easily share multiple sets, you can also create a class or folder on Quizlet, and then share it with your friends.
4. Take care of yourself and manage expectations
Feeling sad and unmotivated is a natural response to what is happening right now. Even when you feel like you are not doing anything, your mind is likely hard at work processing everything that is happening in the world. Be kind to yourself and set realistic expectations.
It’s easy to drag out study sessions when you technically don’t have a place to be (or have to leave the library before it closes). Try to set a start and end time for work, and keep it attainable rather than overly ambitious. Can you really study uninterrupted from 6pm to 10pm? It might be more reasonable to aim for two 30-minute study sessions after dinner.
Also, definitely set aside time to relax and have fun. If you dread planning, like I did when I was in college, you can overcome that block by planning time for enjoyable activities as well as for study.
5. Celebrate the little wins
Productivity experts say that making progress towards a goal can boost your motivation and engagement with work. This is not always easy though, because human brains have evolved to focus more on failures than achievements. In order to counter this tendency, Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile recommends recording and tracking your everyday successes, which makes visible small achievements that would usually go unnoticed.
Quizlet Plus allows you to easily track and see your progress. You can go to the Progress dashboard and watch the terms moving from Still Learning to Mastered. All users can also click their profile and go to Studied to see the month-by-month study activity summary.
While your school work matters, your mental health is also important, especially during this tough time. Developing better planning and study habits can help you mitigate school-related stress, and ultimately improve your study outcomes.
Want more tips? Check out our previous blog post on how to stay focused and productive during remote learning.
Our new Quizlet Plus feature, the Learning Assistant, provides study guidance backed by learning science, so you can focus on learning instead of worrying about how to study. Try Quizlet Plus with a free trial.
Chairin is a Product Marketing Intern at Quizlet. They recently graduated from Yale University with a major in sociology.