“If I have to respond to one more discussion post I’m gonna -” is a thought that myself and many other students I know have at least once a day.
As a freshman in college, adjusting to a new lifestyle in a pandemic has proven to make even the most mundane of activities more difficult than anticipated.
Personally, one of the most uncomfortable of those transitions has been working under “Zoom University” protocol. I spent the first few weeks of college navigating my ever-changing schedule of online and in-person classes, and once I got into the swing of things I hit my second roadblock: Zoom exhaustion.
The term was introduced to me by one of my professors early in the semester, and I remember thinking to myself that I would be fine with online school and make it work. Nevertheless, about two months into my first semester I found myself rolling out of bed, opening my computer, and barely contributing in breakout rooms.
Over the past month, I have kept a list on my phone on how to beat Zoom exhaustion. Not everything here will work for everyone, and some of the tips I share may not be applicable to your schedule, but overall these are my tips to help conquer online school.
- Keep a digital calendar with notifications on
- I use Google Calendar, but find an app that works for you and plan out your weekly class schedule. If you can, color-coordinate each of those classes; I find it very helpful to associate each class with a different color. Secondly, turn on notifications for your calendar with sound for whatever time in advance works for you; I have my calendar send me a notification 10 minutes before class starts. Finally, if possible make the calendar notification a different sound than your text tone, so that when the notification arrives you know it’s about an upcoming event.
- Plan your day around activities you like
- Everything else in my daily schedule during the week revolves around my eating schedule, because I love food. Before I started doing this I found myself skipping meals, and then feeling the urge to turn off my camera and eat in class. Therefore, once you have your weekly class schedule set, add in something that makes you feel good in the slots in between classes. Do this with different activities whether it be eating or working out; the goal here is to look forward to the little things and give you a break from staring at the screen.
- Blue light glasses are not a joke
- I used to think that blue light glasses were just another marketing ploy that became popular because of COVID-19, but staring at a screen for hours on end can genuinely lead to headaches. I thought I was not getting enough sleep or eating enough, but once I got my schedule down I was still experiencing migraines. My mom sent me blue light glasses in a care package, and after using them for about a week I realized that they do make a difference.
- Take a shower….at like noon
- So this might seem like a strange one, but one of the quickest and therapeutic stress relief exercises for me is showering. Sometimes after sitting through a 70-minute lecture, when I am feeling exhausted, I get up and take a quick shower. Something about feeling clean helps me feel like I am starting off my next class with a fresh slate.
- Don’t take class from bed
- I know it’s tempting, and I am guilty of it, but do not take class from bed. Lectures can be boring and it is just so easy to snuggle up in bed and zone out when a professor is discussing something you find monotonous. Trust me your professors wish they could do the same, but they don’t. So, even if you are sitting on your floor, do not take class in bed.
- Instead of sitting, try standing
- Standing work desks have been all the rage since work and school moved online. While it is comfortable to sit if you find yourself tired or have the potential to fall asleep in class, try standing up. Personally, I do not own a standing desk, so I put my laptop on my lofted dorm bed and stand sometimes. By no means is this the most comfortable way to be in class, but since I tend to fidget, standing helps me not only stay attentive but also keeps me from playing with whatever object I could find on my desk.
- Turn off the news
- There is a ton of really negative news right now all over social media and other outlets. I am not saying that you should mute all news flow, as it is important to keep up with what’s going on in the world, but having a constant news flow of often negative news is bad for your overall well being. Try deleting or moving social media and other sources to an inconvenient place so that you keep yourself from distractions during class.
- Take a mental health day every once in a while
- Now I am not here to tell you that it is okay to skip work and/or assignments because you are tired, but because of COVID-19, many of us have lost our normal fall breaks, parents weekend, etc. Thus, every three weeks I take one of the less busy days of my week and sleep in and enjoy the day free from my laptop screen– consider it a snow day. It is important to not abuse this tactic, but I found it very helpful to schedule “holidays” this semester.
At the end of the day, we are all trying to just get through this semester one day at a time. Sitting in front of a laptop all day is exhausting. We frequently forget to acknowledge the emotional toll that our abbreviated semester is taking on us, and when we do we are subject to procrastination. It is okay to feel like this is harder than usual, because this semester is.