4 Routine-Related Tips for a (Somewhat) Sane Spring Semester

2020 was anything but a routine year, and chances are 2021 will be just as unpredictable. As college students return from winter break, they might feel uncertain about how to navigate the spring semester.  

However, it’s still important to establish strategies for long-term success in the new year. Now more than ever, students should try their best to establish some predictability in their day-to-day lives. Creating a reliable routine isn’t just great for academic success, studies suggest it can also reduce stress (and who doesn’t need a bit of that nowadays?).      

To help students adapt to these challenging times, we’ve put together a few routine tips to share with your student. Whether they are telecommuting or actually on campus, these tips should help them succeed this spring semester.

1. Beware of Blue Light Before Bedtime 

In 2021, it’s impossible for students to escape the ever-present glow of screens. While today’s phones and laptops are incredible, they come with a few costs. One of the most significant risks students should know about is blue light exposure.

Unlike other light spectrums, the blue light from electronic screens has a huge impact on sleep routines. Research from Harvard and the University of Toronto suggests that blue light significantly dampens the sleep hormone, melatonin. Instead of feeling sleepy near bedtime, students may feel wired throughout the night.  

While melatonin supplements might help people who suffer with extreme insomnia, doctors first recommend shutting off all electronic devices before bed. And by “before bed,” professionals suggest doing so at least two hours before hitting the hay. If possible, students should also invest in warm red lights for nighttime use rather than relying on LEDs. 

Bonus tip: if your student does a lot of reading on blue-lit screens, it might be worthwhile investing in light-reflective glasses. There are plenty of blue-light-blocking glasses available on prescription and non-prescription lenses.  

2. Create Separate Spaces for “Work” And “Rest”

While we’re on the subject of setting up a sleeping routine, we should say a few things about the “bed office” phenomenon. It may be super cozy to attend classes while loafing on a mattress—but many experts advise against this work-from-home temptation. If you must work from your bedroom, try to make sure that you adopt a sitting position during classes.

If possible, students working from home should ideally choose only one area for lectures, studying, and writing. It also might be a good idea to place a few work-related items, planners, and even decorations to designate this space as a productive area.    

3. Defeat Digital Distraction With Mindfulness  

Digital distraction could easily curtail even the best-planned routine. If students want to be productive, they have to recognize a harsh reality: multi-tasking is a fiction. Although it may feel like students are productive with 50 tabs on their screens, science clearly shows our brains work better doing one task at a time. 

So, how could students avoid this productivity pitfall? As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, meditation is an excellent strategy to boost concentration. By focusing attention on the breath, students will realize just how busy their minds are. With dedicated practice, meditation should help students resist the urge to fall down the YouTube rabbit hole.

Another great tool to combat digital distraction is the popular app Forest. This productivity app rewards users who don’t touch their phone by planting a real tree while they are focused on a specific task. Turning this app on while doing tasks like research could be a game-changer for smartphone addicts.     

4. Heading Back To Campus? Consider a COVID Testing Routine 

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, students returning to campus must be extra cautious about their health practices. It’s no longer enough to social distance and wear a face mask. According to The New York Times, students should get into a “COVID testing routine.”  

Results from the fall semester suggest that schools that invested in robust testing protocols often had the lowest rates of coronavirus. Students should research and understand their college’s regulations for COVID testing.   

Of course, make sure your student has also tested negative for COVID-19 before heading back to campus. If they neglect to do this, the first thing they should do once they arrive on campus is find a testing facility.  

Wishing Students a Safe Spring Semester! 

Routines may seem dull, but they serve a key psychological function. Getting into a productive routine could make the challenges of college life a lot more manageable for students. Hopefully, the above routine tips will help your student make the most out of their spring semester. 

If things don’t go according to plan, students need to know where to find help. That’s why we’ve created the Umergency app. Whenever students feel unsafe or have a medical emergency, the app allows them to get help immediately. With a single touch of a button, they can contact parents, trusted contacts, local emergency services, and national health and safety hotlines. To learn how Umergency protects students, please visit our website.      

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