Since classes have moved online for the rest of the semester, there is an unprecedented temptation for students to press “snooze” on their alarms while simultaneously pressing “record” on their lectures. Now, students can wake up a minute before their lecture without being late to class, all while listening to their professors from the comfort of their own bed.
Although these options may allow students to sleep slightly longer, waking up right before lecture or staying in bed all day sleeping are not conducive to one’s ability to learn or maintain their mental health. Instead, students should try to maintain a schedule throughout the day for both health and academic performance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends maintaining regular routines despite school closures. Falling back on routines from school brings a sense of much-needed normalcy during a time of uncertainty and disruption. Students should still partake in their morning routine of waking up, getting dressed and having breakfast before logging onto their class. Getting out of bed wakes students up and puts them in an academic mindset before beginning class.
On campus, students may bike from one class to another, skate across campus to buy food or walk to their favorite place to study. Movement in some form is an integral part of a college student’s day. Although this kind of movement cannot be replicated perfectly at home, it is still important for students to continue to move in some capacity, multiple times per day. Motion can translate to an at-home workout or a quick walk outside during the gaps between classes.
To replicate the movement from one class to the next, students can move to new places in their houses for each class. This breaks up long, monotonous sessions in front of the computer and can help students break up the day based on their classes
Living in close quarters on campus made it easy to see and connect with friends on a daily basis. For many, seeing friends and talking over dinner was a highlight of their daily routines. Social distancing and the varied location of students across the globe certainly make daily interaction more difficult, but not impossible.
During this past semester, if two students consistently met up to eat lunch together, they should simply use video chat with one another in place of their regularly scheduled lunches. Staying connected with others despite changing circumstances is extremely important for mental health.
In the evening, connect with friends from a club that would normally hold a meeting at that time. Conduct study sessions with classmates and continue to have movie nights with friends over Zoom. Just because face-to-face meetings are no longer possible does not mean the interactions between students have to stop. It only means students may need to work harder to find ways to consistently connect, to avoid falling into feelings of isolation and depression.
Granted, not all students have access to the same resources. Some may find it more difficult than others to maintain school routines from home. However, students should prioritize incorporating movement and social interaction into their daily schedule to the best of their ability, whenever possible.
Before the outbreak of the coronavirus, students did not give all the different aspects of their routines a second thought. However, now students are more aware than ever before of what they no longer have. Attempting to identify the parts of a routine makes it easier to copy it, which in the long run will be beneficial for both mental health and academic performance.
Without a doubt, sitting home alone listening to classes on Zoom does not come close to replacing life on campus. But, the first step to bringing back a sense of normalcy for students, and thereby getting through this unprecedented time, is for students to maintain a similar schedule to school while completing online classes to the best of their abilities.