Most of us are deep into schoolwork by now, quizzes, papers, presentations, midterms soon (scary, I know) and most of us have at least one, if not all, online classes. Switching to online learning back in March was abrupt and chaotic, but I learned a few tips and tricks that I knew were going to make this fall semester easier and healthier (physically and mentally!) for us all. These are my personal top 5 essentials for online learning.
- Reusable Water Bottle with a Straw
This one is probably the most important of them all. Drinking enough water on a daily basis is, and I cannot emphasize this enough, SO important. Back on campus, I carried around a water bottle and would drink it here and there, between classes etc. But with online classes I found myself more sedentary (obviously) and I wasn’t getting thirsty and I also was finding it hard to stop what I was typing or doing to simply unscrew my bottle cap and drink. I’m lazy. I know— but aren’t we all. But once I bought a cup/water bottle with a straw I find myself drinking ALL day long and it feels so much healthier. It is just easier to not really have to stop what I’m doing to drink; I just keep it in front of me or next to me and I just drink my water all day long. The straw is essential and underrated, TRUST ME (and reusable of course). I also recommend a clear one, so you can visually see how much you are drinking throughout the day.
- Yoga Mat
I know some people see the word “yoga” and run for the hills. But hear me out, think about how your days went back on campus when everything was “normal.” Even if you did not exercise, you would be walking between classes, down and up steps, to get food, and now you’re sitting at your computer all day. If you have time to get outside and take a walk or run, that’s great, but some of us don’t have time or don’t live somewhere where the weather is optimal for that. Plus, sooner than later winter will be heading our way and you need to make sure you’re still being active. I keep a yoga mat right by my desk and in the morning, between classes, during lunch, or at the end of the day it is so easy to do some light exercises or stretches (or yoga if you’re into it). Look up some YouTube videos if you have no idea where to start. But it is important to just move around, stretch, or even get your heart rate up during the day.
- Colorful pens
Whether you have neat or messy handwriting, notetaking is not optional. Maybe it was just me, but back in March once everything switched to online, I forgot notetaking was a “thing.” Honestly, so far this semester the notes I’m taking, I probably won’t look back on too much, but taking notes while listening to a lecture keeps me focused and listening to the professor. Plus, it is another memorization tool, so anything you’re writing down is one more step to learning it. Obviously, using colorful pens is optional. Yet, it makes the notetaking process way more fun and you can color code per class, chapter, subject, section, etc. It has tremendously helped keep me organized, listening, and entertained. My planner is all colorful too, it just makes everything better and happier.
- Bed Desk/Tray
Doing schoolwork and going to class online from home is a different experience, I think we can all agree on that. I also think we can agree that we are doing a lot more work in the comfort of our own bed. Even attending lectures/zoom classes, half my class is always in bed. First, I would highly recommend sitting at a desk or table to at least attend your classes, out of respect to your professor and classmates. But it is inevitable that sometimes you want to stay in bed when 8 AM rolls around for your class, or while you’re doing your reading or writing that paper. Lying in bed or sitting in bed hunched over looking at your laptop, iPad, or book is actually pretty terrible for your posture and back and will only hurt you in the long run. This is why I invested in a bed desk, some of these run on the pricier side, but an easier/cheaper option is a simple bed tray as well.
My last essential is a candle. More than likely your background and atmosphere aren’t changing too often, so you have to make the one you have as relaxing and motivated as you can. Lighting a candle while you get ready in the morning, while you do your afternoon homework, up late writing a paper, or even preparing for bed are all ways to help make your space more calming. Any candle will suffice, but my personal favorites have been the Bath and Body Works aromatherapy line, especially the stress relief one. I leave it on my desk while I’m in class, light it in the bathroom while I take a shower, after dinner, and when I first wake up. The candle has been in every room in the house— it’s definitely essential. They have ones for “comfort,” “relax,” “energy” and even “sleep.” Any candle will do though! Plus, it is finally fall and lighting a candle sets the mood for falling leaves, chilly nights, scary movies, bonfires, smores, and everything warm, cozy, and comforting- just what we need to get through online classes.