Studying through distance learning has some great advantages – it offers freedom with where you study, flexibility around when you study, and convenience in how you study.
But especially if you have work or other commitments, adding studies on top of an already hectic day-to-day life can be difficult.
Here are our top 5 tips for managing mental health if you’re a distance learner:
1. Set realistic and achievable goals
It’s important that you set realistic, achievable goals for your studies. By doing so, you’re more likely to see yourself make progress, which will in turn give you the motivation and confidence you need to continue to reach your goals.
Completing all your course module’s readings in one day when you’re working and have family commitments after work, for example, can be an unrealistic goal that can not only cause you unnecessary stress, but also demotivate you.
By taking the time to sit down and thoughtfully plan your study goals each week, you’ll find that each time you’ve managed to tick a goal off your list, you’ll keep building motivation and momentum to continue to succeed throughout your course.
Just because you’re studying through distance learning doesn’t mean you’re isolated from your tutors or peers.
Staying connected through online discussion boards and social media channels will not only ensure you don’t feel isolated, but also allow you to get support from your tutors and peers when you need it.
Remember, you and your fellow students are in the same boat – studying online, and perhaps even also juggling a full-time job and/or family commitments with studies. Turning to your peers for support – whether it be support with a module or tips on time-management – can give you the different perspectives, tips and advice you need to succeed with your studies.
Also, remember your tutors are there to help too – whether you have a question about a particular topic, or you’re struggling to get an assignment done on-time. Don’t be afraid to communicate your questions, concerns, or needs to them – they will support you throughout your studies as best they can.
Communicating what’s on your mind with not only your tutors and peers, but also your family and friends, will give you the support network you need to ensure your mental wellbeing while you study.
3. Don’t procrastinate
One of the greatest pitfalls online learners face is procrastination. Without having to stick to classroom schedules and with other priorities to deal with, such as work, family, friends and a social life, it can be easy to let your studies take a backseat.
But waiting till the last minute to complete an assignment, or consistently trying to skip through module material because you kept putting off studying, will mean you’ll not only potentially end up stressed and anxious, but also struggle to successfully complete your course and miss out on valuable learnings.
You can avoid this by making sure you don’t procrastinate when it comes to your studies. Balance your priorities so that you include time in your day for your studies alongside your other priorities and exclude time you spend on non-urgent or time-wasting tasks.
4. Manage your time
Effective time-management is key when it comes to managing mental health for online learners. Managing your time effectively can mean the difference between having a positive and rewarding learning experience and successfully graduating from your course, and having a stressful and negative learning experience and failing your course.
But managing your time effectively doesn’t need to be difficult.
Be sure to set some time aside at the end of your week to plan for the upcoming week. Based on the recommended weekly hours for your course module, how many hours will you need to set aside each day for your studies? Which particular timeslots each day will you be able to allocate to studying? Mark these in your weekly calendar and set up reminders so that you can stay on top of your studies each week.
By taking these simple steps, you’ll be able to manage your time effectively and avoid falling behind with your studies.
5. Set aside some down-time
Even if you’ve done everything mentioned in the previous tips, it’s still possible to feel like you’re hitting burnout mode while you’re juggling your studies with everything else.
Just remember that even though your studies and other priorities are important, so is your mental health and wellbeing.
Set some time aside in your day for switching off, relaxing, and enjoying some down-time. Whether that means laying on the couch watching your favourite TV show, taking a leisurely stroll through a nearby park, or catching up on an interesting book before you go to bed, giving yourself the opportunity to relax and unwind will help you quieten your mind and recharge so that you can take on whatever priorities you need to get through the next day.
And, of course, don’t forget to get enough sleep so that you can start your day recharged and refreshed.
Falmouth Flexible offers a range of part-time, online courses that you can comfortably fit in alongside your work and other commitments. All courses are delivered through Falmouth University – a TEF gold-standard university – and designed to help you reach your career goals and expand your global network.