Well-being and Academics During COVID-19
Working and learning remotely presents new challenges, but it may also create new opportunities to grow self-supporting habits that can help you even after the pandemic is over.
If you need assistance with issues outside of class, resources are available.
We all are responding to a worldwide crisis. Many of us are having strong emotional reactions to our experiences. That’s a normal response to a crisis. Our plans have changed. For some of us, this means small adjustments, but for others, this could mean a change to a final capstone that you've been planning for a year or more.
It is worth remembering that these strong emotional responses are in addition to responses to day-to-day challenges. Practices of mindfulness, self-regulation, and well-being can help us cope, but they won’t make what’s happening right now a normal environment for learning.
It is very likely that you won’t be as productive or focused as you would be during a different quarter, and that’s okay.
This guide can help you begin to assemble your own strategies for academic and holistic wellness while working and learning remotely.
Make a routine
Create a routine that makes space for important elements in your life like syllabus activities, homework, personal care, and family or social time. Everyone’s life is different, so prioritize what matters to you.
Here's an example we made for Spring Quarter: Evergreen 2020 Spring Quarter Schedule template (Google Sheet). To make your own copy, open it and select File > Make a copy.
Focus in chunks
Try working for 45 minutes and then resting or taking a break for 15 minutes. Do your most difficult work when you are feeling most alert; for example, after fresh air in the morning or after taking a dance break in the afternoon. Try to vary your activities as well, if possible.
One thing at a time
Multitasking is a myth. Doing multiple tasks at once is not as effective as doing one thing at a time. Do what you can to limit interference with any tasks you have at hand. Learn how your computer and phone can pause notifications for a set period of time.
Break big tasks into smaller tasks
Every project has multiple steps, but thinking about all of those steps in a constant loop is stressful. Before each project, or at the start of every week, take 20-minutes to simply and gently mull over your project or coursework. What needs to be done? In what order? You can try using backwards planning or kanban boards to further support this process.
Conserve your screen time
While so much of what you do will involve a screen, try to take breaks from computer and phone screens for your eyes, your posture, and your mind. Read paper books if possible and consider opting for walking phone calls to chat with friends or classmates. Look into whether your device (phone, laptop) can read text to you with the right app installed. Take notes on paper.
When you get off of a screen, take time to transition. It’s perfectly okay to spend some time just zoning out or shaking out your body before taking up a new activity; in fact, it is essential to your well-being for the short- and long-term.
Engaging with your course or program
Find out what has changed
Take note of how any in-person elements from your course or program have changed, including field-trips, labs, and internships, etc.
Know where to go for help
Find out when your faculty is available to offer one-on-one help. Do they have digital office-hours? What platform will they use? What other resources do you have access to?
Get a buddy in the program
Try to connect with someone in your course or program with whom you can problem solve if there are any moments of confusion.
Get cozy with Canvas
Much of your academic life will take place through Canvas. You might learn how to integrate Canvas into technology you already use, for example including: Canvas in your Google Calendar or iCal (YouTube).
See the Getting Started in Canvas module for more resources around Canvas for remote learning.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
This is a truly unique situation. Students, faculty, and staff will be called upon daily to troubleshoot many issues. It's important to remember that your faculty is learning how to facilitate remote learning while you are learning how to learn in this style as well. If you find yourself struggling in the program for whatever reason, please contact your faculty directly and start an open conversation.
If communicating with your faculty is not an option, contact Academic & Career Advising or a staff member you trust.
Make sure you communicate regularly and identify a purpose for each Zoom or phone meeting, make role expectations clear, commit to supporting your peers, and check up on each other often so that there are no mysteries when it comes to progress.
Be patient with your classmates
You may not have the same level of access to remote learning technology as your peers. Some may have great internet connection, a great webcam and audio set up in a quiet space with a powerful laptop, and some may not. Some may be homeschooling children and sharing one laptop between a few family members; some may not have an internet connection that supports video-chatting.
Be patient and try to find common ground that works for everyone, whether it's an agreement to meet after kids are asleep, meeting with voice only, or other creative solutions. Have patience with yourself and technology, too. If you need help, take a deep breath and submit a help ticket.
Just like in class, you’ll get much more out of video lectures when you take notes.
Make sure you close any distracting open tabs. It might help you to move around while listening, but keep a notepad handy to periodically jot things down.
After each lecture, write a summary of the lecturer's main points and any questions that you have.
Make sure you understand how to use any interactive features (like simultaneous text-chatting or hand-raises in Zoom). Ask your faculty to make time in-class to practice!
Share what works for you
Everyone is doing something different this quarter by participating in remote learning. When there's a change in the routine, there's innovation: you might think of or have techniques that can benefit someone else. Ask your faculty if you can start a study strategy discussion thread in your program or course’s Canvas. Mutual support will help us through this time!
Well-being, attention, and studying
Take care of you
When you’re feeling stressed, consider the acronym “H.A.L.T.” It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Ask yourself, “Am I going to quit everything or am I just tired right now?” and respond to your needs through nutrition, movement, emotional expression, and time connecting with others.
Remember, your capacity for things may be different at this time of crisis than at other times. For articles about coping with fear and catastrophizing, working from home with ADHD, and more, see Further Links & Support for Remote Learning in the Student Remote Learning Resources module in this Canvas course.
Communicate with your people
You may need to coordinate with your children, partner, roommates, or pets (Whiskers, you can't be on my keyboard all the time!) about space, computer use, and general expectations for your altered routines. When possible, try to make arrangements that are mutually beneficial to keep the peace.
Be kind to your future self and be proactive about completing work. You will likely need extra time to navigate new technology. Get an accountability buddy to gently help you along.
Everyone, including your faculty, your classmates, and the staff at Evergreen, is working with a different standard this quarter. While it’s always appropriate to do your best, your best may not be your “all-time best” this quarter. Try to identify reasonable expectations for yourself and work on one goal at a time.
Text on the internet
While humans generally communicate with gestures, intonation, language, and more, many remote-learning situations are text-only (discussion boards, emails, etc.). As a reader, seek to understand what your faculty and peers mean through their words. As a writer, pause and think before you respond in a way that could be misunderstood. Evergreen’s Student Code of Conduct still applies online, and so hate speech, for example, is not tolerated.
Don’t go it alone
College is meant to be a challenge, but it’s not meant to be unbearable.
- If you need help with math and science, (or just want to be around others who are working on math and science) reach out to the QuaSR!
- If you want to be in community with people who share your identity/ies, reach out to those who are in your friendship and acquaintanceship networks, check out SEAL’s Instagram page, @firstpeoples, email email@example.com, and stay tuned for updates on the Status of Campus Services page for emerging opportunities.
- If you need someone to support your writing, make a remote Writing Center appointment.
- For more about the Library, Student Health and Wellness, Academic and Career Advising, and more, see Status of Campus Services.