STAFF EDITORIAL: How to Avoid the Rut That Comes With Taking Online Classes

Zack Miller | The Phoenix

Now that Loyola students have settled in for the fourth week of mostly online school, the robotic routine of waking up, taking classes, doing remote work duties and sleeping at normal hours may seem a bit repetitive, and honestly, depressing. There’s not a ton of variety to life and it’s easy to fall into a rut, so The Phoenix Editorial Board is here with suggestions to keep spirits and good habits up.

Set A Bedtime And Stick To It

As easy as it is to stay up late catching up on your latest Netflix binge or to finish that last bit of studying, the benefits to a consistent sleep schedule will be well worth it. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Besides waking up well-rested, adequate and good quality sleep lowers the risk for heart disease, diabetes and improves the immune system, the HHS website said. Both heart disease and diabetes are on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s list of health conditions that may complicate cases of COVID-19 — all the more reason to start paying attention to our sleep.

Don’t Sleep The Day Away

After sticking to your well-established bed-time, try to get up at a reasonable hour — maybe 8 or 9 a.m. Sleeping until noon might feel nice in the moment, but you’re really just sleeping away hours of time you could be cooking a nice breakfast, catching up with friends or family or, most importantly, getting started on classwork. A 2018 study showed how sunlight helped reduce eye strain, headaches or blurred vision. So, instead of procrastinating homework and cramming throughout the night, consider waking up a few hours earlier and taking advantage of that perky sunlight.

Keep Your Room Clean 

When you take classes, sleep and spend downtime in your bedroom, it can definitely get messy. As the days go by, it’s easy to let the water bottles, take out containers and dirty clothes pile up. However, cluttered spaces can be damaging for your physical and mental health, so it’s important to keep tidy living quarters, according to WebMD.

Exercise Regularly, Even If It’s Just Going For A Daily Walk 

It’s important to exercise often, even if that means getting out for a brisk walk between classes. These walks are especially beneficial while the weather is still nice in Chicago. A half hour of cardio three to five days a week can add six years to your life, and the release of chemical endorphins that comes with exercising can boost your mood.

Get Dressed 

Taking a shower, getting dressed for the day and fixing your hair and/or makeup can make you feel like you’re starting the day off on the right foot. Spending the whole day in pajamas can make you really feel the COVID-19 stay-at-home blues, and freshening up — while wearing something comfortable but fashion-forward — is one way to keep a positive and productive mindset.

Learn to Cook

For many college students, cooking can seem a little daunting. Take advantage of your extra time at home this semester by channeling your inner chef and learning how to cook. Not only can cooking serve as a creative outlet, giving a welcomed break away from the computer screen, but it can help you eat healthier and save money too. YouTube is a great place to expand your cooking skills with recipe walkthroughs, food inspiration and tutorials on the basics of being a good cook. Set a goal of crafting one new, exciting recipe a week and see where it takes you. 

Schedule Virtual Or Socially Distanced Hangouts With Your Friends 

Just because we can’t be right next to our best friends, doesn’t mean you can’t still see them. Whether it’s a FaceTime call, Netflix Watch Party or lunch on the quad six-feet away from your friend, anything to help boost that serotonin. It’s super easy to get in a rut staying home and only seeing your pets or two roommates, but switching up the week by calling your friend who lives a block away helps relieve the monotonousness that we’ve been used to since the pandemic started. 

Set Aside An Errand Day

With the semester in full swing, that means our days are filled with more studying, test-taking, project-making and lecture-watching than usual. As a result, it’s easy to let more menial but necessary errands fall to the side. Set aside a designated day a week to get those things done — laundry, grocery shopping, plant hydration. Plant parents, just think about the possibility of seeing potential new growth on your children — it’s about as exhilarating as things get nowadays. If you’re someone who enjoys keeping life organized and seeing a clean room (or apartment), you’ll look forward to this day. For everyone else, at least you get it all done at once. 

Keep A Journal

Although online classes might be boring, these are still crazy, unprecedented times. Keeping a journal can be a way to maintain some consistency in your life while therapeutically expressing your thoughts. Whether it’s a daily entry or a couple times a week, jotting your thoughts down in a journal could be a good way to recount your days during a time when it can be difficult to communicate with others. Who knows, maybe you can turn it into a lucrative book deal in the future.

Reward Yourself For The Little Things 

On particularly bad days, cutting yourself some slack can go a long way. Finally finishing a few pages of a reading assignment you really didn’t want to do can be a great excuse for a quick walk to a convenience store for a KitKat. If you started the load of laundry that’s been staring at you all week, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take a TikTok break. 

Stay-at-home orders may have eliminated some of our usual brain breaks, like running into a friend between tough classes or catching the window seat for a quick nap on the shuttle, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make new ones. It’s okay to be lenient and treat ourselves where we can in honor of all the bigger things we’re missing right now. 

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