6 Tips to Combat Online Class Anxiety As Finals Season Approaches

2020 has shaped up to be a pretty awful year. From fires in Australia to COVID-19, we’ve all had it up to here and our stress levels are crazy high. On top of everything, the academic year is online for a lot of us, and the anxiety of dealing with a less-than-ideal learning environment is worse than ever. This is especially true now that finals season is around the corner — what's usually already a high-stress time is made even more difficult by the isolation and disconnection of Zoom classes. Here’s how to combat online class anxiety for finals on top of the rest of 2020’s shenanigans.

  1. 1. Make time for low-stress exercises

    Person Wearing Brown Bubble Jacket

    When I’m stuck inside studying, I definitely feel the urge to stretch my legs or maybe more. Exercising is great in relieving stress because it releases endorphins which makes you happy. It’s also good for the body as well as the mind. Whether it be yoga or mountain biking, if it’s good for the body then nine out of 10 times, it’s good for the mind.

    I am not a very active person, but when it comes to quarantine, I will do anything to get out of the house. Ideally, someone should work out about 30 minutes a day, but realistically, two to three times a week will get rid of that I’m-stuck-in-Zoom-calls-all-day feeling even if you haven’t left the house. Rebecca Harrington of Business Insider writes, “Working out regularly has been linked to fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression." So if you’re stressed or depressed, I recommend stretching your legs with some low-intensity exercises to get yourself warmed up to higher intensities yet still feeling the effects of a good, long workout.

  2. 2. Write your thoughts out in a journal

    computer hands writing in journal on table

    Put your thoughts on paper. If you had a stressful day or week or year, it's more than likely that the stress of it all is building and building. You need to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and let your emotions loose. If you don’t know where to start in your journal, just write down a list.

    Whether it be your emotions, your stressors, or things you’re grateful for, write it down and then go in detail on why you’re feeling that way, why they are important, and what you can do about it. Don’t focus on your class in your writing! Only you!

  3. 3. Record yourself speaking

    airpods and phone on laptop

    I recently discovered this when I was going through a rough patch. When you need someone to vent to but you don’t want to bother anyone (we’ve all been there), talk to Siri. I personally go to the Voice Memos app on my iPhone, press record, and just talk.

    Start off by saying the date, then the first thing that comes to mind. Talk to Siri as long as you want because it helps you think through options and makes you be 100 percent honest. There is no secretly judging audience.

  4. 4. Organize your schedule in advance

    goals, coffee, notebook

    If you want to get to the root of your stressors, you need to hunker down and focus on your studies. Taking classes online can mean it's much harder to keep track of your assignments, since you're separated from the rest of the class and the professor, so you need to remind yourself to stay on top of everything.

    A prepared mind is a carefree mind. Write down and organize your assignments, classes, calls, and other items on your schedule so you know what needs to get done. Color code them based on priority. I use the Calendar app on my iPhone by typing the title, location (Zoom or otherwise), and time of my responsibilities, and I color code them based on whether they are “appointments” or “fun.”

  5. 5. Keep your learning environment separate

    desk with laptop, typewriter, plants, and books,

    Make sure your work space and relaxation space stay separate. Don’t do work in your bed and don’t take a nap at your desk. Designate your relaxation space and your work space. This will help you to keep your work out of your personal life and allow you to practice self-care and practice “me” time without having to look at your open textbook.

    For starters, if you need a mental health break, don’t take a bubble bath just to have your open textbook next to you. On the flip side, if you’re focused on finishing an assignment, don’t have Netflix playing in the background. Separate your spaces and do not let them cross.

  6. 6. Set alarms and reminders

    Use technology to your advantage. Set reminders on your phone, tablet, or laptop for upcoming assignments days in advance (not just when it’s due). I like to set alarms during the day for when I’ll begin work, when I’ll take a break, and when I’ll be done for the day.

    Set alarms for openings of quizzes and tests too! Set an alarm 15 minutes before the opening, 5 minutes before the opening, and as soon as it opens — just to make sure you can get online with no technological mishaps.

All of this online work sounds super overwhelming and it definitely can be, but let’s just breathe. We’re gonna have a killer semester (even online) as long as we don’t stress too much, stay on top of things, and make sure our mental health comes first.