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As an online learner, how can I refresh my brain and continue to motivate myself?

Often times, I’ll be on my phone or computer doing schoolwork for so long that my eyes get blurry and my head hurts. So, that affects my speed and determination to get work done. I was wondering if you had any tips on how to relieve stress and refresh my brain.

In addition to study tips, I'm also looking for tips on how to stay healthy during this time and motivate myself to work out.
#studying #motivation

Thank you comment icon Reminding myself of my goals whether that be long-term or short-term keeps me motivated Tsering

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John’s Answer

Two Words Salma,

"Audio books"

There are many recognized benefits of audiobooks that make them suitable for many situations.
For instance you can listen to audiobooks while:

√ Cleaning
√ Walking
√ Biking
√ Dog Walking

Your Brain is a GREAT app, its time to upgrade it.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for your advice! I will definitely try this method! Salma
Thank you comment icon Stress has affected all of us at one time or another Salma, your not alone John Frick
Thank you comment icon Indeed it has. Salma
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Kim’s Answer

This is a good question during a time that is new/different for all of us in the world. Make sure you get up and walk away from your phone/computer every hour, even if it's just for 3-5 minutes. It's very difficult to do sometimes, I have an app on my phone that reminds me every hour to get up and move for one minute. Seems silly, but sometimes I get focused on what I'm doing at work and when that reminder pops up, it's very helpful to just walk away to clear my head.

There are tons of videos on you tube for working out as well as many apps you can put on your phone, even just getting outside to walk is great exercise.
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David’s Answer

You should not be spending too much time in front of a computer, if you do the side effect you have already mention headache plus eye blurry. I would recommend spending about several hours in front of a computer just to do schoolwork or you can try purchasing a screen protector so the UV light radiation, x-ray radiation, and EMF radiation will not affect your vision. As well take about minimum 15 to 30 minutes away from any computer, phone, tv, and etc. with UV light radiation, x-ray radiation, and EMF radiation, so you eye can rest up and then go back to do what you are doing. If it is a nice weather you can go out for a bit and come back to the computer screen as the light rays will help adjust back your vision.

As for motivation for staying healthy during this time, do you have any pets or you can do online exercise group with other people who is home. You can use zoom, which this is what everyone is using for video calling right now and/or set a daily work out time and schedule daily and you should be able to feel motivated in some way or you can ask someone to keep pushing you. Like a lot of people always use the term "Summer is about to be here, I need the body" and do a before and after or in progress photo as a way to motivated being healthy or toning or exercising.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for this advice! I will take it into consideration and use them! Salma
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Kim’s Answer

Hi Salma!

I recommend adding yet another course to your studies! It is Learning How to Learn, and it is free!

https://www.classcentral.com/course/learning-how-to-learn-2161

Sitting still for any length of time is bad for your body, and, using your eyes for any length of time causes eye strain, and headaches. And using your brain for more than 20 minutes on the same topic is ineffective. So, take breaks every 20 minutes! Get up, exercise, eat (in moderation!), drink (hydration is important to overall health!), clean house(?), etc.

Or, just change up what you are studying or how you are studying it. For example, a lot of school is learning facts and figures. Sit down with real paper and pen, and try to outline what you just learned. Or, give yourself a quiz, such as "compare and contrast the American Revolution with the Civil War." Those types of questions used to take me by surprise, because I never learned to actually think about what we were learning in HS. College was like, whoa! Unexpected!!

Anyway, you also want to remind yourself to blink while reading, use eyedrops if necessary, (or at least splash water on your eyes!) do some neck and back stretches, etc. Cold water on the back of the neck also makes you more alert! You can google for various stretches. Here is one link. https://ehs.ucsc.edu/programs/ergo/stretch.html

In summary, the way to do better while studying is to stop studying! You cannot push through when your brain and body are hollering "stop!"

Hope this helps!
Kim
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! I will take these tips into consideration and use them! Salma
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Larry L.’s Answer

Hello Salma,

You are not alone, we all get so busy in performing our daily work task or studying that we get burned out. Ways to prevent this is to make sure that every 45 min or so you step away and take a small break, meaning if you are studying make sure you stop at least every 45 min if possible to give yourself and yourself brain a break.

When you just keep going without any breaks you can get headaches, motivation will decrease as you are now tired and when we become tired focus and motivation are the first things to be affected, make sure you take breaks.

There are many apps out there for mindfulness that you can research for mindfulness which can also help with stress and motivation.

To stay motivated to stay healthy I think about family to stay motivated, I think to myself that I want to be able to play with my kids and not be out of shape or not be able to keep up with them.

Even if you take a daily 30 min walk that is exercise, one reason people do not stay motivated to work out is that they set the bar so high for themselves they cannot attain their goal, start slowly and always have your favorite music to listen to while you work out that will help your motivation.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your tips and advice! I will take this into consideration and try new things! Salma
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Nadia’s Answer

Depending on your schedule and government restrictions in your area, try to find at least 1 activity that can be done without being online and sitting in front of a laptop. You can either do each of them for only a few minutes between your school tasks or "book" a dedicated slot after work.
Examples:
- learning something new (like knitting, drawing etc.), especially if it's far away from the thing that you do on a daily basis.
- creative writing.
- doing a crossword, playing board games, sudoku.
- learning a new language by reading a book, reading a newspaper or writing a letter (even if it won't be sent).
- sports: running, yoga, pilates, meditation.
Also, I would recommend to plan your day in advance, mainly to avoid overloading yourself and ensuring that you have time to relax and unwind.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for this advice! Salma
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Aicha’s Answer

Hi Salma! These times can be rough since everything has been put online, so it is healthy when you can just take a step back from the computer for a minute. There is something called tomato timer online where you can work for 25 minutes and then it will tell you take a break for 5 or 10 minutes. I think this is good way for you to rest your eyes or get up and stretch while not taking too long of a break to where you feel lazy. You can also break your work into chunks like maybe one day you want to focus on one subject only. This may help you from being on the computer for too long to where your head is throbbing.
In terms of staying healthy, there are a lot of workout videos on YouTube that are specifically showing people how to work out at home so maybe you can pull this up on a TV or laptop and follow along. My personal favorite is a guy name "fitness marshall" because his workouts are easy dances that are fun and engaging.
I hope these help you !
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for these tips and tricks! I am going to use the app mentioned and see how I do! Salma
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Christopher’s Answer

Hi Salma,

This is a great question that you will always need to find a balance between. Sometimes if you work for extended period of time continuously, sometimes you can "burn" out. In economics, there is something called the law of diminishing marginal returns. In this case, sometimes the more hours you put in a short period of time, the less effective the studying will be. This may be the cause of some of your tiredness.

To avoid stress, it is always good to plan ahead and consider how long a project may take. This will reduce any uncertainty and break the assignment down into manageable pieces. I would recommend doing this as much as you can.

In terms of staying healthy, I always found physical exercise to be one of the best ways to relieve stress and refocus. Going for a run or even doing a quick guided workout helps. Reading about something you enjoy or having a quick conversation with someone are also good ways I found.

Hope this helps and good luck!
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Clinton’s Answer

Hi Salma!

Great question. Staying in front of the computer for long periods of time is not only straining for the eyes but is bad for your overall health and mental clarity. What I recommend is to take frequent breaks- generally one per hour for 10-15 minutes. This break is to get away from the computer, go outside, take a brisk walk, grab a snack, just stay away from your phone and computer! Even small things like stretching and yoga can help increase focus and alertness.

I always took breaks during my long hours of cramming for engineering courses. Sometimes you get so focused you miss a break, and thats ok. You'll get into the rhythm of things as you move forward. Just remember to take them, get away from the computer and breathe. This time is also perfect to get in a quick workout, do some stretches. There are plenty of videos on Youtube of quick 5-10 min workouts at home, but don't wear yourself out too much!!

Hope this helps,
Clinton
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice! I am going to use the “study for an hour/10-15 min. break” method you mentioned to relieve my stress! Salma
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Rodolfo’s Answer

Pace yourself. Do 20 jumping jacks every 45 minutes of studying.
Write down your “why”s.
Avoid, decrease, eradicate any social media.
Ask yourself, does it really do you any good?
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Kim’s Answer

This is a good question during a time that is new/different for all of us in the world. Make sure you get up and walk away from your phone/computer every hour, even if it's just for 3-5 minutes. It's very difficult to do sometimes, I have an app on my phone that reminds me every hour to get up and move for one minute. Seems silly, but sometimes I get focused on what I'm doing at work and when that reminder pops up, it's very helpful to just walk away to clear my head.

There are tons of videos on you tube for working out as well as many apps you can put on your phone, even just getting outside to walk is great exercise.
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Natalie’s Answer

Hi Salma,

Lots of great suggestions here. I would also add that blue light blocking glasses may help with the headaches and eye strain that can occur from staring at bright screens for long periods of time.

Proper body mechanics and an ergonomic setup is equally important for working efficiently - for instance, making sure that the computer is at eye level and you are sitting upright, not slouching, avoiding text neck/leaning neck forward, all help with proper body mechanics which may help you and your body feel less tired.

If you work better in quieter environments, try to create that quiet area for yourself while studying or use noise cancelling headphones.

Or if you prefer studying to music, create or find a study playlist for yourself of fave songs that help you focus/would motivate you to workout, whether it is with upbeat dance music or lofi/chill/piano music etc. Listening to calmer music or genres you typically don't listen to while closing your eyes during a rest break can also act as a refresher for the brain.


Regards,
Natalie
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice! Salma
Thank you comment icon Of course! :) Hope it was helpful Natalie Valerio
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Amanda’s Answer

I echo the advice above to drink water (especially chilled water), and take regular breaks to walk around and stretch. Look online for 5-10min yoga or stretching exercises- especially those that promote deep and intentional breathing, as well as heart/chest openers as studying can often cause bad hunching posture and shallow breathing. I also recommend eating small amounts every few hours. Even if you're not doing strenuous physical activity, your brain is still working very hard and needs regular (but moderate) intake of sugar and nutrients to keep alert and focused.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the tips and tricks! I am going to take into consideration about eating and drinking! So important! Salma
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Padmapriya’s Answer

Hi Salma,

I would suggest to use the Pomodoro technique,

1. Choose a task you'd like to get done: Something big, something small, something you’ve been putting off for a million years: it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s something that deserves your full, undivided attention.

2. Set the Pomodoro for 25 minutes: Make a small oath to yourself: I will spend 25 minutes on this task and I will not interrupt myself. You can do it! After all, it’s just 25 minutes.

3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings: Immerse yourself in the task for the next 25 minutes. If you suddenly realize you have something else you need to do, write the task down on a sheet of paper.

4. When the Pomodoro rings, put a checkmark on a paper: You’ve spent an entire, interruption-less Pomodoro on a task.

5. Take a short break; Breathe, meditate, grab a cup of coffee, go for a short walk or do something else relaxing (i.e., not work-related). Your brain will thank you later.

6. Every 4 pomodoros, take a longer break: Once you’ve completed four pomodoros, you can take a longer break. 20 minutes is good. Or 30. Your brain will use this time to assimilate new information and rest before the next round of Pomodoros.: Learn how to work together with time, eliminate burnout, manage distractions and create a better work–life balance, using only a pen, some paper and a kitchen timer.

I advised my team to use this technique to manage time. It teaches you to work with time, instead of struggling against it, makes you more focused and even smarter.

Hope this helps.
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