Learning Off-campus living Support Wellbeing

Creating structure while you’re studying at home

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You’re at least a week into self-isolation, your daily commute is from your bed to your dining table and and while the novelty of spending time at home is starting to wear off, now’s the time to start getting some structure back into your day.

At the moment, we don’t have the usual set times and set places that we need to be, and our usual routines are pretty disrupted. This can be challenging, , so it’s important that we find new ways of bringing structure back into our lives. Having a daily routine can help us to feel a sense of purpose, reduce stress levels and allow us to be more productive.

With that in mind, we’ve got some advice for creating structure and a new routine while at home.   

Plan your day

Depending on what works for you, at the beginning of each week or at the start of each day, put a plan in place of what you want to get done. Build each day around your short term objectives, balance what you need to do with downtime and activities you enjoy.

Remember though, unexpected things can crop up even when you are at home, so it’s important to be flexible with your plan and open to potential changes. Our weekly wellbeing planner can help you to plan each day.

Take breaks

Believe it or not, it can be easy when studying at home forget to take breaks. Natural breaks tend to happen when you’re in uni – travelling in or a catch up with friends, but when you’re in the zone studying at home these l breaks can become less and less frequent. Taking regular breaks will make sure you’re more focused and more productive when you are working, and have a positive impact on your overall wellbeing.

One approach that you can try when studying at home is the ‘Pomodoro Technique’. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that uses a timer to break down work into 25 minute chunks, separated by regular short breaks and occasional long breaks. There are a number of apps you can download to try it out.

Have daily habits

Having positive daily habits that prioritise self-care can help to boost your wellbeing and create a sense of routine. Whether it’s something simple, like a 5-minute meditation each morning or preparing yourself a healthy meal each evening, these daily habits can go a long way in harbouring a sense of normality at an unusual time.

More time indoors can mean that we are less active, so one daily habit you might want to incorporate into your routine is some form of movement or exercise. Look onlinet for exercise routines that can be done at home or try one of the videos from the UoM sport campaign #stayinworkout.

If you have access to an outdoor space make sure you go outside as much as possible – it can be a game changer to boosting your mood and positivity. If you’re able to go for a walk then schedule one in and don’t feel guilty for stopping work to do it.

For inspiration on other daily habits you can incorporate into your routine, check out our wellbeing calendar.

Create a sleep routine

The removal of 9am lectures can make it very easy and tempting to stay up and watch Netflix, but now more than ever a sleep routine is really important in order to keep your day productive. Going to bed and waking up at a similar time each day allows our body to get used to our sleep-wake cycle and helps set our body clock accordingly. A regular sleep routine will mean that we find it easier getting to sleep and will sleep better once we are asleep.

You could try to incorporate a ‘wind-down routine’ into your day to help you to completely relax before bed. This might include avoiding screens and dimming the lights for an hour before bed, and doing some light reading or breathing exercises before your head hits the pillow.

Create separation

Currently, a lot of us will be working, relaxing and sleeping in the same physical space. Creating some sort of separation between these different parts of our lives will support positive wellbeing and the creation of a routine. If you can, try to do these different activities in different parts of your home. If this is not possible, for example if you are staying in university halls, doing things such as making your bed each day and putting your university work away once you have finished for the day can also help to create this sense of separation. 

Finish working at a set time each day and use evenings and weekends for down time. Don’t feel guilty about relaxing. While there’s no doubt that this is a difficult time for everyone, we can also view this time as an opportunity to recharge and do the things we wouldn’t normally have time to do.

Make time to connect with others each day

If you find that you’re conquering the ‘stay at home’ routine, then why not share any tips you have with your friends or course mates? We’re finding new ways that we can connect with each other each day, and it’s important to keep in contact with others during these times of social distancing.

You could try a group quiz or virtual cooking together – if you have a signature dish try hosting a cooking master class for your friends or family? Or schedule time to e-meet for a cup of coffee and a chat. There’s lots of ways people are learning to connect virtually and lots of technology out there to help.

If you are finding the transition to being at home difficult, or if you are struggling in any other way, then please reach out to a friend, family member, or someone at university. While non-essential university buildings are currently closed, the university support and advice services are still absolutely available. The student support website contains information on how to access support services and resources within it, and our Facebook group Students at Home is being updated daily with support, information and general chat on all things living and studying from home.

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