Over the course of the past few months, there are a few items I have come to realize I need to function at my best. Some of these things I had before COVID-19 hit and some of these things are new, but all of them help to make my days just a little bit easier.
- Blue Light Glasses
For the first few weeks of the semester, I was doing all of my schoolwork without blue light glasses. By the end of the day, my eyes hurt so badly that even trying to relax and watch YouTube or Netflix would cause me irritation. Everyone has varying degrees of sensitivity to blue light, but the more of it you’re exposed to, the more likely it is that it will start to affect you. Once my eyes were sore and burning for about a week, I finally caved and got blue light glasses. I don’t need a prescription for my eyesight, but most companies that sell blue light glasses have prescription options as well. However, prescription lenses can be very expensive, so if you cannot or do not want to buy new glasses, most computers have apps that block the blue light straight from the source. The only downside to these is that they give your screen an orange tinge. The orange screen bothered me, so I opted for the glasses, but feel free to do whatever makes the most sense for you.
- The Best Device You Can Afford
A good device is an absolute must-have for remote learning. I personally had saved up for the past year for a new Macbook, but any laptop or PC in your price range is just as good. Computers of any kind are never cheap, but you can find decent Chromebooks for a few hundred dollars or refurbished laptops for a discounted price. If you do use a third party site, be sure to do your homework and make sure the seller/company is legitimate.
- A Good Water Bottle
I’m the type of person who won’t drink water throughout the day unless there’s a decent supply right in front of me, so getting a glass of water every now and then doesn’t work for me. Regardless of where I am, I like having a water bottle with me. Most brands come in a few different sizes, but I’m partial to a nice 32-ounce bottle. I find that I drink anything smaller than that too quickly, and anything larger than that I won’t finish by the end of the day. Insulated water bottles are also my favorite because I always drink ice water, even if the outside temperature is freezing. I also drink my water with Liquid I.V., which is a drink mix that gives you more hydration and electrolytes without dyes or unnecessary ingredients. They have a ton of different flavors. My favorite right now is watermelon, and I probably drink twice as much water because of it.
- The Momentum App
My browser of choice is Google Chrome, so I don’t know if this extension is available on other browsers. I’ve had the Momentum chrome extension for a few years now, and I love it. It changes the appearance of the blank tabs in the browser. There is a pro version, but the free version is enough for me. You do have to put your name and email address in order to personalize the app, but that is all the info they need. The app gives you the temperature and weather icon for your location, a collapsible to-do list, and a section to put your main goal for each day. Momentum greets you based on the time of day: for example, at night it would read “Good Evening Annabelle.” You also have the option to have a twelve-hour or a twenty-four-hour clock display. My favorite part of the extension is the background. It curates images for you of landscapes around the world. All the photos are absolutely stunning, and looking at them is quite calming. At the bottom of the page, it also lists a motivational quote of some kind (from actual people, not a grab-bag of affirmations).
- An Ambient Sound Playlist
This wasn’t a necessity for me until the start of the semester, but finding hour-long (or longer) ambient sound videos on YouTube has really helped me focus on my work. Sometimes listening to songs I recognize, or ones with words, can distract me from what I’m supposed to be doing, but I also don’t usually study well in complete silence. These videos are a nice middle ground, and the beauty of them is that I can “be” anywhere I want. If I want waves crashing on a beach while a bonfire crackles, I can find a video for that. If I want to hear the smooth jazz and the low clatter of a cafe, I can find a video for that too. My favorite ambient sound channel right now is Nemo’s Dreamscapes: a channel specializing in ambient sounds layered with oldies music. In addition to helping with my work, being able to mentally place myself somewhere that is not my room is incredibly valuable to me right now.
Essentials to me might not be essentials to you, but I urge you just to check a few of these things out, especially the free ones, because a lot of the time you don’t know how much you were struggling in a certain area until you aren’t anymore. I hope you all stay safe and healthy no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
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