Distance learning has several great benefits and has become an attractive alternative to conventional classroom learning. One of the best advantages of distance learning is that it gives you the freedom to study from anywhere with an internet connection. You can learn at your pace and tailor study time to your routines and commitments. This makes online courses the ideal choice for students who are already working, or for those with families who would be unable to attend scheduled classes. On top of these benefits, the fees for online courses are also typically cheaper and you won’t need to spend time and money commuting to classes.
There are lots of benefits to distance learning, although there are also some negatives to be aware of. One of the biggest challenges that distance learners face is finding the motivation to complete learning tasks and stick with a study schedule. Studying from home can also be lonely and many students experience feelings of isolation. Students enrolled in online courses should pay close attention to their health and take steps to ensure that they remain happy and productive. With that in mind, here are eight well-being tips for distance learning.
1. Pick the right course
Enrolling in a distance learning course is just as big of a commitment as enrolling in a traditional classroom program. You will likely have to dedicate a year or longer to your studies and spend your free time completing coursework or preparing for examinations. You must choose the right course and avoid wasting time and money on a course that is not going to benefit you long-term.
Ideally, the qualification you obtain through distance learning should be specific to the career you are hoping to go into. For example, aspiring nurses can complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing online. This course equips students with the skills and expertise needed to practice nursing in a clinical setting. Take the time to explore different courses and pick a program that is aligned with your interests and future career goals. You should research any careers that you are interested in to check that they will give you long-term job satisfaction.
Using the above example, if you’re hoping to go into nursing, then make sure that you research important job information such as working conditions, salary, and nurse practitioner work hours. This will help you decide whether a career in nursing is right for you and allow you to pick the most appropriate online course.
2. Get into a consistent routine
As discussed, one of the most attractive benefits of distance learning is that it allows you to study at a time and place that suits you. This means that you can pick your study schedule and aren’t confined to set classes. Having this freedom has its advantages, but it can also make it difficult to find the motivation to study and complete learning tasks. You must get organized and establish a consistent distance learning routine as soon as you start your course.
Prepscholar recommends starting each day with an active warm-up exercise to boost your energy levels and get yourself into the learning mindset. They also suggest dividing your learning sessions into chunks to make them more manageable. Use time between study sessions to relax, have an energy-boosting snack or socialize with family and friends. Make sure that you read your course program carefully and note key deadlines and assessments. This will help you manage your time and determine how many hours you need to dedicate to your studies each day.
3. Take frequent study breaks
Students are known to do last-minute cramming sessions or all-nighters in the library before an exam. However, your brain can only function for a certain amount of time, after which, you will struggle to absorb information or concentrate on your learning activities. Distance learners should also be aware of the risk of burnout and avoid putting too much pressure on themselves.
The best approach to distance learning is to take frequent study breaks. This will give you time to relax, unwind, and recharge. Research has also found that study breaks can boost your concentration levels and increase your ability to retain information. This will have a positive effect on your learning ability and overall academic performance. According to fastweb.com, you should aim to take a 10-20 minute break for every hour of study time. Some positive study break activities include going for a walk, cleaning, meditating, or having a quick power nap. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take frequent breaks from studying.
4. Create a productive study space
Your study space will have a major impact on your productivity and overall learning ability. Where you choose to study can also affect your mental well-being. For example, research shows that a cluttered space can make you feel stressed, anxious, and depressed. Before you start your online course, think carefully about where you are going to complete your learning. The best option is to design a study area that is separate from the rest of your living space — i.e. in an unused room.
If this is not an option, then make sure that you pick somewhere that is calm and quiet. You should avoid setting up your study space in areas where people tend to congregate such as the kitchen or living room. Invest in quality ergonomic office furniture that will support good posture and allow you to sit comfortably while studying. You must also check that your internet connection is reliable and fast enough to support your study tasks. Finally, remove potential distractions from your study space such as clutter, televisions, and smart devices. This will help ensure that you maintain high productivity levels and remain focused on your learning.
5. Connect with other students online
One of the biggest drawbacks of distance learning is that you won’t have the chance to meet your peers and teachers face to face. This can make it difficult to form meaningful relationships and many distance learners struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness. Luckily, there are loads of ways to connect with other students online. Try to be active on any digital communication platforms offered by your course providers such as Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups. Speaking with other distance learning students can provide a great source of socialization and give you much-needed support if you are struggling with feelings of loneliness.
6. Fight stress with exercise
It is normal to experience some stress while studying. However, too much stress can cause serious health issues and put you at risk of medical conditions like high blood pressure and depression. You should keep a close eye on your stress levels and acknowledge when your feelings or emotions are above what is expected.
Exercise can be a fantastic stress-reliever for distance learners. When you exercise, endorphins are released in your brain which makes you feel happy and reduces feelings of stress. Along with the mental health perks, regular exercise will keep you fit and help you maintain healthy body weight. Doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week should allow you to experience the health benefits of regular physical activity. Make sure that you find an exercise routine that works for you. Home workout DVDs can be a great option if you have a busy schedule and struggle to find time to go to the gym.
7. Pick healthy food options
Many students are guilty of choosing unhealthy food choices, especially when they are feeling stressed or tired. Processed snacks and ready meals may be a convenient option when you are busy studying, but eating unhealthy food is likely to harm your health in the long run. Pay close attention to your nutrition and try to make healthy food choices. A good starting point is to swap unhealthy snacks with healthier alternatives. For instance, eat fresh fruit slices and nuts instead of crisps and sweets. This will boost the number of nutrients and minerals in your diet whilst giving you a much-needed energy boost. Read online articles and blogs for more healthy eating tips for students.
8. Make time to relax
Distance learning can be demanding and draining, even more so if you have other commitments to worry about. You must include adequate downtime in your schedule and make time to relax without the stress of your online course. Try to allocate a few hours a day where you can enjoy relaxing activities like reading a book, listening to music, or catching up with your loved ones.
More and more students are choosing to enroll in online courses instead of conventional classroom courses. Distance learning offers many benefits and has made qualifications a lot more accessible to those who have commitments preventing them from attending scheduled classes. That said, online courses are in no way easier and distance learners must work hard to pass their course and achieve the grades they want. Studying on your own from home can be difficult at times, but there are plenty of ways to stay productive and improve your health, happiness, and overall well-being.