Stick to a timetable, get outdoors and other tips for students at home
Schools and academic institutions have issued advice on how to manage new routines
Secondary school students have been advised by their teachers to maintain the timetables of their school days as much as possible. Photograph: iStock
As students settle into their second full week of studying at home following closures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, schools and academic institutions including Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork have issued advice on how to manage these new routines.
First off, students are reminded that these emergency restrictions are not to be treated like school/college holidays. “In ordinary circumstances you would shower, dress, have breakfast and have to go outside each day to get to college. Try to replicate this by rising at the same time daily, showering and dressing, having breakfast and going for a walk,” advises Martina Mullin, health promotion officer from TCD.
Secondary school students have also been advised by their teachers to maintain the timetables of their school days as much as possible. This means studying or doing set homework for each subject according to the time usually allocated to the subject in school.
While this won’t always be possible – either due to delays in teachers setting work or tasks taking longer to complete at home – the idea is to work as closely as possible to the school day. Some students will find this difficult so setting out an alternative timetable to do at least six hours work during the day is another option.
Teachers and lecturers are aware that working from home can be isolating so they suggest group-chats could be scheduled at normal break times or during lunch break or after 4pm when classes finish. For once, the much maligned social media apps have a valuable role to play in comparing notes on progress, sharing ideas and getting support from friends about challenging work. However, sharing information on Covid-19 from unreliable sources can lead to fear and confusion among people already anxious and concerned about the virus.
Studying from home also means you have a greater responsibility to maintain good mental and physical health which means ensuring you have good posture at your desk and to stick to the advice on hand-washing and coughing/sneezing etiquette. It’s also important to avoid eating at your work station and to take regular screen breaks.
The health promotion officer from Trinity College has some very good advice to students on giving their eyes and ears a break. “Schedule time during the day to have your eyes focus in the middle to far distance. When out for a walk, try and allow yourself the opportunity to look at objects far away. This is really only achievable in the outdoors. Give your ears a break, take off audio devices when out walking and again try and allow your brain absorb sounds from the environment rather than forcing auditory input,” says Martina Mullin.
Making time for exercise is another key strategy to keep well during these extraordinary times. There is no better time to get out for a run or brisk walk. Some people will use the opportunity to sign up for a couch to 5km run. The Trinity College health promotion team also recommend some apps for short high-intensity workouts (eg Joe Wicks), yoga (eg yoga with Adriene) or pilates (eg Jessica Valant) sessions.
Finally, health experts say it’s not wise to do exercise too close to bedtime. Instead use that time to wind down, talk to others in your house/family home, watch a light-hearted movie, tidy up your space and congratulate yourself for keeping to your routine.
“Turn off screens for at least an hour before bed as blue light is activating and wakes up your brain. Try and allocate at least seven to eight hours for rest each night, you may not sleep for all of this time but don’t worry, your body will still be resting, even if your mind is still quite alert,” adds Mullin.