How to Handle Mental Health for Online Students: Tips for Staying Sane

Mental health is important for everyone, but it can be especially challenging for online students. Without the face-to-face interaction of traditional classroom learning, students engaged in online learning can easily feel isolated and alone. And, since online education often requires a great deal of self-motivation and discipline, the added stress can take a toll on your mental health.

According to WHO, one in five students is unable to complete their education due to the stresses of everyday life. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, one-third of all adults will be diagnosed with some form of mental disorder or psychological distress at least once during their lifetime, and two-thirds today suffer from low moods on an ongoing basis which can lead them to trouble both personally as well academically if left unchecked for long enough periods time.

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to support your mental health as an online student. Here are some tips for staying sane:

Make time for yourself.

Just because you’re always at home and comfortable attending your online classes in your study room, doesn’t mean you should neglect your own needs, especially keeping your mental health in check.

Be sure to schedule some “me time” every day or week, even if it’s just a few minutes in between your online classes. Make sure your time for yourself is guilt-free and you don’t feel like you need to use it to study or get work done.

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Take mental health breaks

It’s important to focus on your online classes, but it’s equally important to take some time for yourself throughout the day. Virtual classes can easily suck in hours of your time without you realizing it.

Get up and move around every few hours, rest your eyes, and make sure to take a proper lunch break. This will help you stay refreshed and focused when you need to be.

Your physical health is as important as your mental well-being, and both of these need to be taken care of, especially if you’re aiming for an excellent academic performance.

Here are a few ideas for self-care:
  • Take a relaxing bath.
  • Read your favorite book.
  • Take a nature walk or just a walk outdoors.
  • Do some yoga or stretching.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Watch a funny movie or TV show.
  • Reach out to friends and family.
  • Find an online study group.
  • Listen to your favorite music.
  • Spend time with pets.
  • Practice meditation.

 

Connect with others.

The best way to combat feelings of isolation is to connect with other people, even if you’re not physically in the same place.

One of the dangers of mental health for online students that are so used to a secluded online environment is social isolation. It can be easy to feel alone when you’re not physically around other people in a classroom.

There are many online forums and groups for students taking online courses, so take advantage of these resources. You can also reach out to your classmates and professors through email or social media.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, talk to someone about it. This could be a friend, family member, therapist, or doctor. It’s important to have someone to talk to who understands what you’re going through and can offer helpful advice.

Here’s a list of fun after-class things to do with your fellow students:
  • Play online games together.
  • Watch funny videos or TV shows together.
  • Chat over Skype, Zoom, Discord, or another video chat service.
  • Plan a virtual meet-up for fun activities, like a movie night or picnic.
  • Discuss your favorite books, music, and movies with each other.
  • Have a virtual dance party.
  • Connect over shared interests, like a hobby or sport.
  • Offer each other support and encouragement.
  • Check-in with each other regularly.
  • Be there for each other when things get tough.

Knowing that you have a support system to lean on can provide a positive significant impact on your mental health, increase motivation, reduce anxiety symptoms, and improve overall enthusiasm for your online classes.

 

Set realistic goals.

One of the biggest sources of stress for online students is the feeling that they’re not doing enough or that they’re falling behind their target academic performance.

To combat this, it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself. Break down your assignments into smaller tasks that you can complete over time, and don’t try to do too much at once. This will help minimize stress and ensure that you stay on track.

Additionally, make sure to give yourself enough time to complete tasks so you’re not feeling rushed. And, most importantly, don’t compare yourself to other students; everyone progresses at their own pace.

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Identify your causes of stress.

It’s important to be aware of the things that tend to stress you out and cause your mental health to decline. Once you know your stressors, you can work to avoid or manage them.

Some common stressors for students in online learning include:
  • Feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
  • Lack of social interaction.
  • Having too much work to do.
  • Struggling with the course material.
  • Isolation and loneliness.
  • Feelings of inadequacy or failure.

When you feel overwhelmed with your studies, it’s important to take a step back and assess the situation. Are you trying to do too much at once? Are there specific tasks or assignments that are causing you stress?

If so, try to break those tasks down into smaller, more manageable chunks. You can also ask for help from classmates, other students, professors, tutors, or other online resources.

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Dealing with the academic pressure

The online learning experience can be pleasing at most times, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the reality of academic pressure.

Especially if schoolwork and personal responsibilities are happening all at once, it can be overwhelming for students engaged in virtual learning to keep up, and most oftentimes, this can take a toll on their mental health and could eventually lead to mental disorders.

Here are a few tips for dealing with pressure:
  • Manage your time wisely. One of the biggest sources of stress for students in an online learning environment is the feeling that they don’t have enough time to get everything done. Make a schedule and stick to it. This will help you better manage your time and minimize distractions.
  • Find a balance. It’s important to focus on your studies and online classes, but it’s also important to make time for other aspects of your life. Maintaining a healthy amount of self-care and regularly taking care of your well-being is a good practice to prevent the development of mental health issues. Practicing balance in your life will help reduce stress and keep you from burning out.
  • Sort out an online learning environment that suits your needs perfectly. A pleasant learning environment will not only help you maintain focus on your online classes but can also promote a clear and positive mental wellbeing.

 

Get enough sleep.

It can be tempting to stay up late working on assignments or participating in online discussions, but it’s important to get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, so be sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Mental health can be especially challenged when someone isn’t getting enough sleep. Symptoms of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression can worsen when a person is exhausted, especially after a long day of studying.

In addition, lack of sleep can lead to problems with focus, concentration, and decision-making.

Tips on how to have a steady sleep schedule:

If you are struggling to get your sleep schedule on track, here are a few things you can do to help reset your body clock and get more sleep:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will help your body get into a routine.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Caffeine can keep you awake, and alcohol can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
  • Avoid using electronics before bed. The blue light from electronic screens can keep you awake.
  • Practice some relaxation techniques before bed. This could include yoga, stretching, or meditation.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet. Use blackout curtains if necessary, and noise-canceling headphones if there is noise in your environment.

 

Exercise.

It’s important to take care of your body, even when you’re busy with schoolwork. Getting regular exercise will help improve your mental health and well-being.

Exercise has always been proven to improve mental well-being and promote a positive attitude. When you don’t have time for a full workout, there are still things you can do to improve your physical health. Take a walk around the block, do some stretches at your desk, or have a 5-minute run on the treadmill.

This short burst of exercise will help to clear your head and make you feel more focused and productive. Exercising also has other benefits, such as improving mood, reducing stress levels, and boosting energy levels.

 

Eat nutritious foods regularly.

Eating properly is essential for mental health especially if you are studying, as it provides your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks, as they can generally have a negative impact on your mental health.

Here’s a list of foods that can boost concentration, for your next snack time!
  • Blueberries
  • Salmon
  • Walnuts
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Avocados
  • Spinach

Seek professional mental health services if needed.

Mental health disorders are common among students engaged in distance learning. If you find that you are struggling to cope with the demands of online learning, it is important to seek professional help.

Some of the most common mental disorders that students experience include:
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Severe Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating Disorders
  • Addiction or Substance Abuse
When to reach out for help

If mental health problems persist or if they are causing significant distress, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, or various signs of mental health issues, it is important to seek professional help.

There are many mental health programs available, such as counseling services or therapy groups. You can also talk to your doctor about medication options if necessary.

 

Final Thoughts

By following these tips, you can help ensure that you maintain a good mental health condition as a student.

At the end of the day, regardless of wherever you are in your academic learning journey – online students, university students, undergraduate students, college students, higher education students, or just passionate young adults. Whether you are studying in higher education institutions, attending face-to-face classes, or engaging in distance learning. And regardless of your academic outcomes, remember that mental health care is very important and from every student’s perspective – should be a high priority.

Do not forget to take care of yourself, set realistic goals, and reach out for help if you need it.

With a little effort, you can thrive in your online courses while keeping your mental health in check.

Stay sane and thanks for reading!

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