Since the first lockdown of March 2021, I have had a lot of time to reflect on and rethink my studying habits to fit the lockdown lifestyle. Achieving the ideal work-life balance has been the toughest it’s been in my four years at university, especially with social distancing and online learning to tackle. As I am coming to the end of my time at Roehampton I would like to share my top five healthy habits for studying at home, for use both inside and outside of lockdown!
1. Keep your study space tidy
Having an uncluttered workspace can help to remove distractions, as well as helping to bring on the working mindset. This doesn’t mean you need to do any huge cleanups: going to get a study snack from the kitchen? Take cups and plates back with you! Walking past a pile of clothes? Fold and put away a few pieces! I have found that doing a little bit often feels like far less effort yhat needing to plan a big cleaning session, and keeps the space less cluttered for longer. Doing this can also reduce the pressure that comes with planning a big tidy-up when you already managing the stress from your assignments. Having a designated area for study can also help; limiting your study to one area of your home means you can focus on keeping keeping just one space tidy and ready for study.
2. Take regular breaks
When you finally manage to get into writing an essay, I know as well as any it can be difficult to pull yourself away for fear of losing the flow. Research suggests, however, the frequent breaks are related to to greater odds of passing a class, and regular downtime promotes optimal learning! Providing a chance to refocus, refresh and relax, a break can help to reduce the emotional, psychological and physical tension that learning can build up. A break can be anything from going for a walk to watching an episode of your favourite show – as long as you’re allowing your brain to unwind so it can keep working to its full potential. Setting a timer is an easy way to remind yourself to both take a break and get back to work. Try to take the break away from where you study, as I’ve found it helps me to relax more if I have a change of scenery, even if it’s just in the room next door!
3. Make a weekly timetable
Sitting down and creating a weekly timetable can really help to visualise and organise what work you need to complete over the course of the week, as well as helping you to see where you can fit this around your booked appointments, teaching sessions, or your job if you have one. This can really alleviate some worry as you can make sure you don’t overwork yourself and don’t miss any deadlines. If you ever start to feel overwhelmed by how many assignments you have (it happens, it’s nothing to be ashamed about!), a visual aid that you can tick completed tasks on definitely helps to remind you that you can do it!
3. Keep yourself hydrated
The NHS Eatwell Guide recommends that the average adult man drinks 2.5 litres of water a day, and women should drinks at least 2 litres, though this can vary depending on how active you are. Research has shown that keeping your fluids up can improve your memory, heighten your mood, and even help to lessen feelings of anxiety – all very important factors during any study session! It can really help to set an alarm to remind you to get a glass of water, or keep a bottle next to you while you work.
5. Be kind to yourself!
This, in my opinion, is the most important habit on this list. Be realistic about how much time you can spend studying; you don’t want to get burned out! Have a bubble bath, get some fresh air, enjoy a tasty snack – self-care and rest are still productive even if they sometimes don’t feel like it, as they’re helping to lead to more effective, healthier studying!