Staying Healthy in a Virtual Learning Landscape

October 1, 2020

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Image by Jan Vašek

Photo provided by Pixabay.com under the Creative Commons License

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In this new virtual environment, it’s only natural to feel stressed and anxious about what might come out of this year. Even through health concerns, both mental and physical, that come with sitting at a computer all day while juggling classes with a weaker time structure, there are ways to alleviate them.

First comes the issue of sitting for too long while working. According to recent research, sitting for long periods of time can cause physical discomfort and pain. A study published by Anne Grunseit concluded that using either sit-stand desks or the new walking desks are much more healthy than just sitting.

Of course, not everyone can afford to use a sit-stand desk like the ones mentioned in the study. In any case, taking frequent breaks to stand or walk will improve general health and welfare. While taking these breaks won’t necessarily make you more productive, subjects in the Grunseit study all reported to have felt better both physically and mentally after walking or standing.

As for the stress and anxiety caused by the workload of virtual school, this simple answer may be of help. In an essay written by Ranjita Misra and Michelle McKean, they describe the stress build-up found in college students as being detrimental to their health, but easily preventable. Things like time management between leisure and work can make all the difference.

Time management is described as “clusters of behavior that are deemed to facilitate productivity and alleviate stress.” In other words, it involves making sure you divide your day into blocks like class, homework, and other activities. Through a mixture of effective time management with school and free time, you can reduce academic stress and anxiety.

Although tried and true research and programs emphasize starting large tasks well before due dates, breaking down large tasks into small ones, and doing small tasks on a regular schedule, many students regularly ignore these techniques and find themselves in great distress before exams.

One solution to this is to not procrastinate– although many students find this difficult to do. One method to start moving on a project early is to simply make yourself begin, as a lot of people find that once they start, the steps after that will follow more easily. For example, in a paper, type out your MLA heading and one sentence, even if it isn’t a great one, and the task will now seem that much easier.

FCHS School Nurse Vicky Penn has these suggestions for how students can stay healthy while navigating the world of virtual learning:

Develop a schedule to balance school work, connect with friends, and make time for yourself as well
Make time to socialize with your friends by phone, text, video, or by meeting at the park and maintaining social distance guidelines
Relax. Find what works for you, whether it is a quiet bubble bath, meditating, calming music, or doing activities you enjoy, like coloring books.

Takeaways are to remember to take standing or walking breaks throughout the day, practice effective time management, and balance leisure and work to help reduce stress and anxiety while undergoing virtual learning. Just keep in mind, with whatever might come next, to keep active at home and to stay on top of schoolwork.

About the Writer
Photo of Tyler Harris
Tyler Harris, Editor-in-Chief

Tyler is a senior in his third year of journalism. He enjoys swimming, the outdoors, and video games.

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