For the third and final installment of our Facebook Live series on online learning, Online Student Support Specialist Bernadette Poerio sat down to talk about mental health and self-care with Blaire Cholewa and Amanda Flora, who are both assistant professors in the Counselor Education program. Read a recap of their conversation or watch the full video below.
October can be a particularly stressful time in the academic year for online students, traditional students, and even faculty. Stress can also be a positive motivator, Cholewa said – it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. But too much stress or anxiety can be detrimental to our health.
For online students, who are often balancing school with other responsibilities like full-time jobs and caregiving roles, Flora said that stress management is particularly important. “I was a graduate student at night while I worked full-time, so I know what that’s like,” she said.
Whether you’re taking classes online or in person, learning to understand and manage both stress and anxiety is a critical skill for students. Cholewa and Flora offered a few practical tips:
- Find a time management technique that works for you. Practicing effective time management can help prevent stress before it begins. Cholewa suggested the Pomodoro technique, which breaks up work into 25-minute sessions, while Flora advised treating your schoolwork like a part-time job and blocking off regular hours on your calendar to tackle your to-do list.
- Communicate. When deadlines are looming, it can be helpful to proactively check in with friends and family to let them know that you might need extra support, Cholewa said.
- Practice gratitude. Try writing down something that you’re grateful for every day, Cholewa suggested. If you make a habit out of positive thinking, your brain starts to re-wire itself to look for the positives, which can help mitigate stress and anxiety.
- Try meditation. Meditation has been proven to reduce stress by helping you slow down and live in the moment. Many apps like Head Space or Calm can help lead you through quick, non-judgmental meditation breaks.
- Take breaks. Contrary to what you might think, taking periodic breaks can actually increase your productivity. “So much research shows that if we take the break, we’re exponentially more productive afterwards,” Cholewa said.
Finally, both Cholewa and Flora encouraged all students – both online and on-Grounds – to explore their options for counseling and support. All UVA students have access to CAPS (Counseling And Psychological Services). It’s important to reach out to your community if you’re feeling overwhelmed, they said. “The best thing about working at Curry is the amazing folks and the amazing professors who are really dedicated to education and human development,” said Flora. “Use your professors for support, use this community for support.”
To close out the conversation, Flora and Cholewa pointed out that students often choose to enter the education field because they’re caring individuals who enjoy helping others – but you can’t help others without taking care of yourself first. “You’re worth taking care of,” said Cholewa. “There’s so much on your plate, but you’re more important than what’s on your plate.”
For more advice on successful online learning, watch the first two installments in this series: