Healthy Study Habits
By Emily Wike, Psychology Teacher and Personal Tutor
Looking After Yourself
It’s important that you try to remain healthy and look after yourself in order to not only ensure your mental health, but to ensure productive study habits too.
This is the area I would look at first, before attempting to be super productive workwise.
1. Sleep – Are you getting enough? Are you sleeping at usual times? Are you treating this like a binge-watching Netflix at night – sleeping in until lunchtime situation? Hopefully not. I’d advise that you try where possible to stick to your usual sleeping habits. You may not realise, but your body really relies on a consistent routine in order to function properly – Google circadian rhythms if you want to know more!
2. Wake – Make sure you are getting up! Sounds daft and must be very tempting to have a good old lie in, but like I said, your body needs consistency. Set an alarm for each day and stick to it.
3. Eat well – and regularly. You need to be fuelling your body effectively, in a balanced fashion, avoiding too much of certain food groups. You should also consider your fluid intake. It can be really difficult when sat at home to remember to drink – and drink the right things. Try to remind yourself that water intake is also essential for effective body function.
4. Be active – Try to get out each day. The Government are currently allowing one form of outdoor exercise per day – so use this. Whether it be going for a walk or run, it’s really important to get some fresh air and get your heart rate up. If you’re stuck for inspiration regarding what exercise to do, there’s loads of resources out there to help you.
• Joe Wicks 9am Live PE (try it – it’s actually quite hard!)
• YouTube (loads of workout tutorials – why not try something new like yoga?)
• LesMills – currently have free online workouts available
• Darebee – workout database
5. Mindfulness – It’s important at this time to engage in mindful activities, as we are making lots of adjustments to our life. There are loads of apps that promote mindfulness. Or, you could simply read a book, listen to a podcast, engage in self-care etc. Take time out for yourself.
6. Communicate – You should also ensure that you are communicating with people – however you choose to do this. There are tonnes of means to doing this now: picking up the phone, using social media, using apps like Zoom, FaceTime or Houseparty. It’s more important now than ever do to this, as you are at risk of becoming isolated.
7. Good hygiene – Again, it sounds obvious, but in order to establish a routine and feel productive, research has shown that getting up, showering and getting ready for the day (clean clothes etc.) is effective.
8. Set non-academic related goals – This is the perfect time to make time to do other things too. Organise your belongings? Watch the documentary series you didn’t have time to? Read the book? Learn a skill? Whatever that may be… Make a list and tick off as you work your way through – really satisfying.
Productive Study Habits
1. To-do list – Don’t underestimate the power of a good old to-do list. Set yourself daily tasks related to work set by teachers and tasks that you would like to complete, too. The best way to achieve this is to log in and check emails and the Remote Learning area of Moodle in the morning, lunchtime and end of each day – to ensure you don’t miss anything and keep track of this on your list.
2. Set a timetable – Different subjects may have different requirements as to how they wish for you to complete work: some may require independent study; some may have live chats and forums, and some may have quizzes to engage with (or a combination). Keep track of this and build this into a daily timetable. In this, you should build in ‘me time’ as well as academic time.
3. Study space – Ensure you set up somewhere for you to work without distractions. This may be hard with other family members around – especially if you are sharing study resources (e.g. laptops). Communicate your plans with one another to ensure clarity in terms of how you wish to approach your studies (e.g. if you are doing an assessment, you may need a ‘quieter hour’ – can this be achieved better at a certain time of day in your house? If so, do it then). Don’t be tempted to work in your bed – research suggests that this disrupts the quality of your sleep.
4. Rest breaks – Build breaks into your day. You may want to do 2 hours of work for a subject, go out for a walk, do another hour of work, then have lunch and so on… You aren’t a machine, and don’t work like a machine in your usual life, so don’t be tied to your desk and try to mix things up. Remember, short and long breaks are OK – just so long as you’re ticking off your daily to-do list, too.
5. Be realistic – Don’t set goals that you can’t achieve in a day, this will lead to a deflated sense of self-esteem – and nobody needs that now! If you don’t meet your daily goals, so what?! We all also have bad days, so don’t beat yourself up and pick up where you left off on the next day.
6. Take time out – The hardest part about being at home is still maintaining a work/ life balance as we’re living and working in the same environment. Try not to let the lines blur. Ensure, for example, let your evenings/ weekends still be yours!
7. Communication – Stay in touch with your teacher and classmates. A lot of students seem to have groups on the likes of WhatsApp – if you don’t, why not try set one up?
Protecting your Mental Health
1. As already mentioned, ensure you are doing activities that you enjoy and that give you satisfaction/ make you feel good!
2. Change of scenery – like already mentioned, you can now get outside once a day for exercise. Make the most of this and spend some time outdoors. It does a world of good.
3. Talk – communication is so important during these times. Tell people how you are feeling, because it is normal! Expressing worries out loud can also help you to understand your feelings a little more. You can gain reassurance, other perspectives or advice.
4. Professional support – Where relevant, you may feel it is necessary to turn to someone with more expertise for some support. There are lots of options out there – whether it be talking to your Tutor, a member of the safeguarding team, utilising the college counselling service (now done over the telephone) or using external services