The past year everyone has had to adjust to working from home at some point. As a final year university student, I won’t be alone in admitting it has been pretty tough to master the WFH routine. Whilst I am still prone to burning out, here are a few preventative tips.
Something I have found helps with online uni is creating a schedule for each week. You could purchase a weekly planner desk pad with either allotted times or split into morning, afternoon and evening. I find listing what I need to do each day at the start of the week has ensured I don’t create unrealistic goals each day. Blu-tacking this over my desk as a visual for my week makes uni seem a little less overwhelming.
With very few places to go in the current climate a daily walk helps to split up the working day. Alternatively, you could mix it up each day with a run (check out the Couch to 5k app) or a yoga tutorial with Yoga with Adriene. Ensuring you’re moving your body daily can really help to create a routine and give you that much needed headspace away from work. Combining your exercise with socialising is so invaluable too, as we haven’t had many opportunities to see people face to face this past year.
Granted, Covid-19 has made it very easy to just want to chuck a frozen pizza in the oven or order a takeaway, but meal planning can really help create structure throughout your week. Having the routine of cooking a nice dinner in the evening helps to drag you away from your desk and to concentrate on something else for a little while. You don’t have to go crazy gourmet with your cheffing skills, a simple pasta bake can be just as exciting! Additionally, if you cook a meal that serves four, you can bung a couple Tupperwares into the freezer for the days you’re feeling particularly low on energy.
Maintaining a regular bedtime schedule is really beneficial to avoiding burnout. According to the NHS website, most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep every night. As students, our sleep routine gets regularly interrupted and whilst trying to make up for that lost sleep is extremely tempting, this can be equally disruptive. Before bed, I like to *try* putting my phone away one hour before sleeping, have a bedtime tea (yes that’s a thing), and read a non-uni related book. Although, it’s so tempting to scroll through TikTok!
The space in which we do our work at home has a big impact. Creating as much of a clutter-free, quiet environment as you can will make those Teams calls that little bit less anxiety provoking.
Writing down all your thoughts and feelings may seem naff, but when you can’t talk to someone about your day or don’t want to worry about burdening others, pick up a pen and write a stream of consciousness that releases all your worries at the end of the day. In doing so, you can start tomorrow afresh and go in with a clear mind.
Listen to your body
Most importantly, listen to your body because that is simultaneously going to benefit your mental health. Sitting in a desk chair all day is going to have a big impact. If you feel as though you’re burning out, take a break (or a whole day). There is always tomorrow, and in such unusual times, it is imperative we prioritise our mental wellbeing.