Monday, 21 September 2020

8 ways for students to stay on track while schools are closed during the COVID-19 outbreak

Studying alone can be stressful, but having to study at home during coronavirus self-quarantine is a whole new challenge. Here are eight, easy-to-follow study tips for managing the COVID-19 stress, staying on task and riding this out while achieving your academic goals. 

1. Make a plan.

Did you know that planning is one of the best stress management techniques and writing your plans, notes, school projects, etc. in a paper planner can help you retain and remember more information? Consider unplugging from time to time to supplement digital apps and online learning portals with a paper planner, notebook or notepad.

Stay on track of your academic work and your school's expectations by gathering all your school resource documents, study-at-home curriculum and any and all instructions from your teachers. Then transfer exam dates, project deadlines, quizzes, assignments, etc. into a monthly calendar. Once you've plugged in important monthly dates into a calendar, break each week out into a weekly study schedule that works for you.

2. Keep everything organized in one place.

Students, teachers, bloggers and a lot of us collect notes, to-dos, important dates and more on random slips of paper. To avoid anything slipping through the cracks, track all of this info in one place. An academic planner is the best tool for this, or you can use basic school supplies like a binder and dividers. The point is to keep all pertinent documents and info handy in one convenient place so you can see it all at a glance, stay organized and stress less about forgetting something. Organization increases productivity and reduces stress.

3. Study according to your personal learning style.

Students learn many different ways. Are you a visual learner, auditory learner, social learner or solitary learner? Do what works best for you!

4. After studying, practice explaining what you've learned.

If you can explain the lesson to someone else, then your studying has paid off. A simple-but-effective study tip is to test your studying habits by describing what you studied. There are several ways you can do this while still observing social distancing:

  • Practice explaining what you've learned to family members that are self-quarantined with you during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Practice virtually with friends online.
  • Practice in front of a mirror.
  • Record yourself explaining what you've learned.

5. Tap into the power of music. 

The right type of music can be a powerful tool that can boost your mood, energy and focus. Find a study playlist that inspires you. Thousands of students around the world stay focused with custom playlists. Explore the best playlists for studying & find your inspiration.

6. Study with friends … ONLINE.

While we are all doing our best to practice social distancing and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, safe social interaction is still helpful, especially for studying. Consider organizing virtual study groups with your friends to not only get your dose of socializing during self-quarantine but also to hold each other accountable to your academic goals.

7. Decrease test anxiety by increasing practice.

Test anxiety affects students of all ages and rehearsing the material helps you feel more relaxed on exam day. Take advantage of whatever online resources your school has available (e.g., practice tests, interactive quizzes, virtual flashcards, etc.). If you're not sure your school offers online resources, email your teacher(s) and even do a general search online for "practice test examples" within your subject, where you'll find plenty of helpful practice materials to help you prepare for your exam. 

8. Stay organized.

From high school to college and grad school, there's a lot to keep track of. That's where the power of organization comes in; without it, things can feel overwhelming. Break your academic goals down by quarter or semester; make a realistic plan to meet those goals; then, get organized to make it easier to follow your plan. You've got this!

When our world changes quickly and suddenly because of things like COVID-19, it is common to experience changes in our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Feelings of anxiety, fear or worry are typical in stressful situations.

Typical reactions include:

  1. Feeling stressed or overwhelmed, frustrated or angry, worried or anxious
  2. Feeling restless, agitated, on 'high alert' or unable to calm down
  3. Being teary, sad, fatigued or tired, losing interest in usually enjoyable activities or finding it difficult to feel happy
  4. Worrying about going to public spaces, becoming unwell or contracting germs
  5. Constantly thinking about the situation, unable to move on or think about much else
  6. Experiencing physical symptoms such as increased fatigue or other uncomfortable sensations

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, so you should not expect any specific reaction. Still, take a few moments to talk with the teens in your life about how they are feeling and what may help them during this difficult time.

Remind them that all of these thoughts and feelings are common right now, and discuss simple self-care strategies that will help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Here are a few tips for mental health and coping from teen Mental Health First Aid:

  1. Maintain a daily routine with consistent sleep, activity and study patterns.
  2. Stay connected with others, and try to find moments of humor.
  3. Talk to people you feel comfortable with about your feelings or worries, then give yourself permission to stop worrying.
  4. Eat breakfast every morning, plus snacks and meals at regular times throughout the day.
  5. Limit coffee or energy drinks, as these will increase feelings of anxiety and make it difficult to relax.
  6. Look for patterns or be aware of situations that make you feel particularly worried or anxious. When you're in these situations, try relaxation or distraction techniques or ask a family member or friend to help.
  7. Relieve times of high anxiety with physical activity; engage in regular aerobic exercise (e.g., walk, jog, yoga, dance).
  8. Limit the amount of time you spend talking about or watching/listening to news media or social media if you are finding information about the COVID-19 situation overwhelming or distressing.
  9. Do hobbies or activities that you enjoy, calm you down or focus your mind and body. These could be arts and crafts, physical activity, listening to music, reading, journaling, watching TV or movies, or chatting with friends by phone, videoconference or text.
  10. Understand that the people around you are probably also finding this situation stressful, and they might also be having difficulty controlling their emotions. Try to resolve conflict.
  11. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, out of control or unable to calm down after a period of weeks, seek help from a mental health professional.
  12. Take time for yourself.
  13. Be kind to yourself and each other. We'll work through this together.

If feelings do not improve, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. With the right information and resources, we can #BeTheDifference for the teens in our lives during COVID-19.

teen Mental Health First Aid is expanding and will be available to every school in the country in Fall 2020. Learn more at