Hard to believe it's been a year since we were all "sent home" for the pandemic. Your health and safety is still our top priority and--since you all loved Virtual Study Breaks so much--we are keeping Study Breaks virtual for Spring 2021. Similar to the previous winter and spring 2020 semesters, we have updated our resources on self-care and created new virtual events the final month of the semester. Our compilation of self-care information, study tips, and more on this page will help you thrive through the rest of the semester.
Here are the activities and events so far:
Why Zoom Fatigue Happens
Over the past 8 months, students and working professionals have needed to adjust from their on-the-go lifestyles to working virtually. This meant working, living, and breathing on Zoom 8+ hours per day with minimal breaks in between. What was once a novel and exciting app soon became the main source of fatigue for people learning and working virtually.
Zoom fatigue is real. This term has been defined as the "tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication." In virtual meetings, we lack the non-verbal cues that would normally facilitate communication in real life. Additionally, being reduced to a little box on a screen can make us hyperaware of every sound and move you make. In combination with the extra effort needed to interpret the other side of the screen, Zoom meetings require us to process more information than our brains are used to doing.
Nevertheless, online learning is the only alternative to continue our academic track while staying healthy and safe during a pandemic. Below are tips for dealing with Zoom fatigue as we continue to adjust to this virtual environment.
1. Limit unnecessary screentime.
Although your class schedule can dictate when you are online, try to avoid using your phone or watching TV during breaks. Catching up on social media or your latest show can be a stress relief, but too much screentime can worsen your Zoom fatigue. Check out our "Overcoming Procrastination" page on this guide for apps to reduce screentime.
Since everything can now be accessed at the touch of your computer screen, it can be easy to fall into the trap of listening to a Zoom lecture, checking your email, responding to text messages, online shopping, and working on your next assignment all at once. However, switching between these tasks has been found to take away 40 percent of your productivity. Multitasking does not work. Try your best to focus on the task at hand so that you do not fall behind!
3. Set healthy boundaries.
Not everything has to be done over Zoom! Zoom has been the primary meeting platform for virtual gatherings. However, if possible, try to schedule meetings through other platforms, such as audio calls or email. Oftentimes, a phone call can get the job done in the same way that a Zoom video call would.
4. Establish a virtual work space.
Libby Sander presented in her TedTalk (above) the value of finding a work space that matches with your productivity needs. Make sure that your working from home environment ensures a comfortably productive space to learn. If you are limited by space, check out this resource for tips and tricks on maximizing your home/work environment.
5. Schedule specific times for breaks.
To prevent overbooking your schedule with Zoom meetings, try to set designated times (e.g., 30- or 60-minute windows, or even a full day each week) as "no meeting" time blocks. Take advantage of these breaks by going on a walk, grabbing a snack, or partaking in your current hobby to limit screentime and avoid further strain on your eyes. If you need some ideas on how to schedule breaks, check out the 20-20-20 or the Pomodoro Technique.
For more tips on combatting Zoom fatigue, check out these resources:
Taking online classes at home can be a challenge compared to learning in the classroom environment. Here are 5 tips on how to create a sustainable home study routine!
Rather than staying home and doing your work every now and then throughout the day, scheduling your classes, designated study times, and assignment due dates can hold you accountable for completing your schoolwork. You can click the picture above for a schedule template to help you structure your day! Being at home all day can also make it difficult to stay active. Make sure to schedule break times to stretch, do some light exercise, or take a walk outside.
Many people find it easier to study in a coffee shop or library than at home. If you have no choice but to study at home, try to set up a designated study area that mimics your ideal learning environment. For example, if you like to study with the sound of background noise in a coffee shop, the website Coffitivity provides ambient sounds of a cafe to help boost your productivity. Click the picture above for a guide on how to create a great study space in your room!
Doing work in bed can easily lead you to snooze off or watch another TV show on your laptop. This can disrupt your work productivity, as well as decrease your quality of sleep. Avoid this lose-lose scenario by studying in a designated space and using your bed for sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene by limiting your exposure to blue light on your laptop or phone screen one hour before going to bed!
One appeal of switching to online learning is being able to wear pajamas at home during school. However, research shows that the symbolic meaning of getting dressed for work, even when working from home, can improve your productivity. If this suggestion does not excite you, try to at least change out of your pajamas every morning before beginning your virtual school day.
Staying at home and studying all day can oftentimes make you forget about maintaining a healthy diet. Drinking water and eating enough fruits and vegetables can naturally energize you and help make you feel loss groggy from staying inside the house. If you are quarantined at home and cannot go to the grocery store to buy healthy foods, click the picture above for a guide on how to plan meals.
For more study tips on online learning, check out these resources:
Do you miss studying in groups? Make your study group virtual! Here are our suggestions for taking your study group online.
First, use one of these collaborative scheduling tools to find a time when everyone can meet.
No doubt you're missing the Bellack Library's Whiteboards, too. We get it! If the built in whiteboard in Zoom isn't meeting your needs, here are several more virtual whiteboards you can try out. All platforms have free starter accounts, with options to upgrade to premium accounts for a small fee.
To wrap up, here are links to tips for making your virtual study group successful and for working on group projects online.
These free meditation and relaxation resources can help you relieve your stress during difficult times. Calm your mind with a deep breath, art exercise, or a walk outside. Use these resources listed below as a guide to navigate your inner self.
Creative activities like writing and drawing can boost energy, clear your mind and boost your mood -- even if you aren't artistic. Sure, it may seem juvenile to color but, if it works, why not?
Don't believe us? Here are some articles to back it up:
"Wondering how to calm down in the midst of overwhelming deadlines? Grab a pencil. The rhythmic and repetitive motion of drawing helps synchronize hand and eye, body and mind, and can be used to elicit what Harvard cardiologist, Herbert Benson, has identified as the relaxation response."
"Writing therapy is a low-cost, easily accessible, and versatile form of therapy. It can be done individually, with just a person and his pen, or it can be guided by a mental health professional. ... Whatever format is chosen, writing therapy can help the user to propel their personal growth, practice creative expression, and feel a sense of empowerment and control over the user’s life."
Your diet is a reflection of your health. During stressful times, it can be easy to overlook your nutrition, especially if you can't leave your house. Check out these tips and recipes for maintaining a healthy diet while studying from home. (P.S. - Don't forget to drink water!)
If you have these ingredients at home or are able to take a quick trip to the grocery store, these recipes make delicious AND healthy studying snacks!
• Pumpkin puree
• Almond butter
• Vanilla extract
• Quinoa flake
• Quick cooking oats
Dark chocolate detox bites
Bored from staying inside the house all day? These free online tours, activities, and books can help you occupy your time. Enjoy the arts, nature, music, entertainment, books, and more, all in the comfort of your home!