March 23, 2020

Mental health tips for learning remotely

5 ways to take care of your wellbeing during this difficult time

If doing your classes remotely is leaving you feeling stressed, you’re not alone. It’s completely normal to feel anxiety when spending more time away from others than you’re used to, especially with everything that's going on right now.

Check out these tips on how to manage stress and anxiety while you continue your studies remotely:

1. Stay connected

Make a point of reaching out to your peers. Consider a small online study or reading group in addition to course time, and, where possible, make it a video chat. Seeing familiar faces makes a big impact on our mood.

Want to watch a show or movie with friends? Netflix Party allows you to watch with a group even if you’re alone. And a comedy over an apocalyptic thriller is probably a good idea. You can also plan group hangouts over Zoom or Skype.

2. Structure your routine

Staying on top of getting ready in the morning helps you start your day refreshed and gets you into a more productive mindset – it also prepares you for any unexpected video chats! Set daily goals, eat at regular times, get consistent sleep, and most importantly, separate study time from personal time. During class and study hours, try to stay in your work mindset, but allow yourself to take breaks as needed.

It can also be helpful to create a physical separation from your academic and personal life. Instead of a commute, try taking a short walk around the block at the beginning and end of your workday to signal that separation.

3. Keep moving

Exercising can significantly lower anxiety levels, and boost serotonin – and there are plenty of ways to exercise at home. From simple stretching throughout the day, to morning exercises with free apps like Asana Rebel, Freeletics and Home Workout, or just a quick solo dance party can get your energy flowing and help you feel refreshed without going anywhere.

Spending time in nature is also sometimes referred to as ‘ecotherapy’ because it’s been linked to lower blood pressure and stress hormones. During your time off, visit a local park or drive to a favorite hiking spot to take in the outdoors and get some fresh air, while maintaining social distancing.

4. Take time to switch off

Studying remotely can blur the line between home and academic life, making it hard to disconnect from school-related tasks at the end of the day. Make a clean break from your email at the end of the day and enjoy more leisurely activities.

With ever-changing news and social media updates, it may also be helpful to reach for a mindfulness app instead of your social apps. Some helpful and easy to use apps include Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer.

5. Reach out to your support systems

Healthy relationships with family, friends and loved ones are vital to your own mental wellbeing during this time. Be sure to check in with them on a regular basis. At UCalgary, we are still here to support you, even if you’re not on campus. Mental health services and supports are available for all students:

Student Wellness Services: For mental health support, email sar@ucalgary.ca or call 403 210 9355.

Online wellness learning

Support for those at risk of domestic or dating violence

Sexual Violence Support team

Women’s Resource Centre: Peer Support

Peer support can be accessible by email and through Zoom/Skype appointments.

Faith and Spirituality Centre

  • Learn more about their growing online engagement options.

Additional Contacts

  • For 24/7 crisis counselling, speak with a crisis counsellor from the Wood’s Homes’ Community Resource Team (403-299-9699), or a highly trained volunteer at the Distress Centre (403-266-4357).
  • If you are in danger and or have safety concerns about a situation involving imminent risk of harm, call 9-1-1.
  • If you need immediate healthcare advice, call 8-1-1
  • For community, social and government-based services, call 2-1-1