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An image of Hayley - Valleys Steps Wellbeing Practitioner

My Journey through Online Learning: The Ups and Downs

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology emerged as a lifeline for many, enabling communication and connection despite physical distancing measures. Online learning andremote working emerged as many individuals could continue their education and employment whilst staying safe in their homes.

Four years on, some aspects of daily life have returned to ‘the norm’. While many have resumed in-person work and traditional educational settings, the popularity of online learning continues to grow.

I’ve been among those who have opted for online learning. There have been many pros and some cons, and I’m going to share insights into how I’ve navigated this experience while prioritising my mental health and well-being.

Let’s start with the good stuff. Online learning has been great in terms of flexibility; no long car journeys to university, no rushing to different classrooms or trying to fit everything into a jam-packed schedule. With remote learning, I can set my own pace and study when it suits me best. It’s liberating, especially with a busy life outside my studies as a mature student with other commitments.

Another perk has been studying in the comfort of my home, contributing to increased focus
and productivity and fewer distractions when I attend lectures and complete assignments.

I have also seen significant cost savings; I no longer need to pay for commuting to university, parking fees, etc., and I can access free online resources and textbooks. As much as I enjoy spending time in a library, online learning platforms have provided access to a vast range of educational resources, enriching my learning experience..

However, there are a few cons to online learning. For instance, one downside is the lack of  face-to-face interaction. I sometimes miss the buzz of a classroom, the debates, and the discussion with others in person, but online forums help us connect, share ideas, and have debates.

Then, there can be technological challenges such as technical issues, internet connection problems, software glitches, and hardware malfunctions, all of which have disrupted learning at some point. There can also be difficulties in accessing course materials, participating in virtual lectures, or submitting assignments. But thankfully, there haven’t been any issues this year!

Online learning has ups and downs, but I still feel optimistic about remote learning. I am enjoying my studies and finding the right balance by embracing technology, which allows me flexibility, accessibility, and an inclusive way to learn.

Here are some strategies I have personally found effective in maintaining my mental health
and well-being while studying remotely:

1.Staying Connected: I stay connected through virtual platforms and get out when on breaks in my local community to help combat feelings of isolation and create a sense of community.

2.Establishing a Routine: I’ve created a daily schedule that includes study time, breaks for relaxation, and activities that promote physical and mental well-being, such as walking,meditation, or hobbies.

3.Having a Dedicated Workspace: I’ve designated a specific area in my home for studying, free from distractions. This has helped me mentally separate my study time and promotes a sense of productivity and concentration.

4.Practising Self-Care: I ensure that I prioritise self-care activities such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and engaging in activities that bring me joy and relaxation.

5.Setting Boundaries: I ensure I take breaks; these are essential for maintaining mental and emotional well-being during intense study periods. I have also communicated with family members when I need uninterrupted focus time, which has helped create a supportive environment.

6.Seeking Support: I know the importance of reaching out for Support when needed. Having someone to talk to can provide valuable perspective and advice.

7.Managing Stress: I’ve developed stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and mindfulness practices, to cope with academic pressure and
alleviate anxiety.

8.Spending time in nature: Many studies support the importance of time in nature; a brisk walk in a natural environment increases my mood.
By implementing these strategies, I’ve prioritised my mental health and well-being while studying remotely, allowing me to approach my learning with resilience, focus, and positivity.

Natasha Jones

Volunteer at Valley Steps

Hi, my name is Natasha. I am currently a student at the University of South Wales where I am studying MSc Psychology, and in my spare time, I am a volunteer for Valleys Steps.