So you’re thinking of going back to school to get a degree to meet your career and life goals. But you’re wondering if you can manage the stress of work, school, family, and life. Follow these 10 tips to cut stress and achieve your goals.
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1. Find Your Space
As an online learner, you may feel tempted to juggle family and school by studying in the midst of it all. But this will not only make study time less efficient. And it denies your family the quality time they deserve.
Instead, find a comfortable place with limited distractions. This could be in the bedroom, the backyard, or even a finished attic, depending on your setup.
Bonus tip: Have a backup. There will be days when your study sanctuary gets invaded by lawnmower noise, kids, TV, or an anxious new puppy. Have a planned alternate location.
2. Work on Time Management
If you have no schedule, you’ll find the time just slipping away. This leaves you with high stress when the assignments are due. Instead, block off time in your schedule for important things. This includes studying and the essentials like family time, making healthy meals, grabbing groceries, and exercise.
You’ll be surprised how much time you find in your day.
3. Ask Family for Help When You Need It
Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others. If you have children, ask them to pick up a little extra as you pursue your education. If you approach this the right way, most kids will want to help. If you are hesitant, set up a reward system.
Parents, in-laws, or a sister nearby? Ask them if they can keep the kids or run errands occasionally to give you extra time to study.
4. Reach Out to Your Professor
Feeling particularly overwhelmed? Reach out to the course instructor. Complex concepts may be getting in the way of your progression, causing a roadblock to further learning and adding undue stress. Your professor can often help you overcome this hurdle to get back on track or suggest resources available to you as part of your MBA or bachelor’s degree program.
5. Get the Tech Support You Need
Spending hours trying to fix a tech issue that would take a tech person five minutes? Not a smart use of your time.
Or if lack of accessibility features is holding you back, realize that tech-support knows all the tips and tricks. Either way, if you’re struggling with technology, reach out to them.
That’s what they’re there for.
6. Take Some Time to Just “Be”
If your idea of a break is playing violent video games or scrolling through tragic news articles, you may not be giving yourself the mental break you need to recover from extended studying. While video games and scrolling may help you decompress sometimes, also give yourself some silence to unwind.
Try mindfulness. Studies show it can help relieve stress by regulating how the amygdala, your brain’s fear center, responds to pressure, as seen on an MRI.
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7. Don’t Neglect Physical Activity
Online learning may have you spending more time sitting than you are accustomed to. Prolonged sitting can cause issues with circulation, chronic pain, lymphatic drainage, and how you respond to stress.
If you don’t already have a regular workout schedule, block off some time, at least several days a week. And if you hit a roadblock while studying, give yourself a quick mental break. Do some push-ups, jog in place, or perform a little yoga. You’ll be back on track in no time.
8. Start Early
Maybe it’s been a decade or more since you sat in a classroom. You’ve mostly forgotten the skills that helped you succeed in school. It’s time to relearn them. Waiting until the last minute to do an assignment is a common sitcom trope for a reason. It always causes drama and stress. Instead, set some smaller goals for your project, block off some time for each one, and tackle that elephant with smaller bites.
9. Think Positively
Positive thinking alone won’t get you an A average. But it will make learning and retaining information easier.
Henry Ford, who first made the automobile accessible to the general public by streamlining production to slash costs, is quoted as saying, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
So think you can do this. You can ace this course, learn this topic, pass this test, and get your degree.
10. See Failure As a Learning Opportunity
This doesn’t cancel out our last point about positivity. In fact, it reinforces it. There may be times you don’t get the grade you thought you earned through your study time.
Don’t let it drag you down into a negative thought spiral. That destroys your self-esteem and your productivity.
When you see it as a learning opportunity, you can turn that failure into motivation to do better overall in a course and life.