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Online burnout is sure to ensue when students begin to spend the majority of their days at their computers studying for final exams. 

After a weeklong break for Thanksgiving filled with family, food and friends, it’s difficult to get back into a college schedule with final exams looming around the corner. It’s never easy to shift back into work mode, but it may be especially difficult for Dukes this year with the remainder of classes being online.

Most students have worked out a routine or a somewhat consistent lifestyle. Since classes have been moved permanently online for the rest of the semester, it may be tough for students who’ve returned home to remain in that schedule while living with their family. Off-campus students who’ll return to Harrisonburg for the remainder of the semester may also struggle with isolation or concentration during the weeks leading up to finals.

It’s important, especially in this last stretch, to take care of oneself and go about studying the right way in order to avoid exhaustion. This is especially key with classes fully online. Here are three ways to combat online burnout.

Form the right morning routine

A morning routine can arguably be the most important part of one’s day. How one prepares for the day and gets into the right headspace can make all the difference. Getting enough sleep is critical, so one should go to sleep and wake up at normal hours, like midnight and 9 a.m., respectively.

According to researchers from Harvard, any significant deviation from one’s normal sleeping patterns can lead to decreased energy. That’s why establishing a healthy sleep routine is vital to having a successful day.

With online classes, it’s all too easy to sit up in bed, open one’s laptop, log in to class and fall straight back to sleep. This keeps one’s mind sleepy for too long in the morning. To wake up, one should get out of bed, get dressed and move to a different area to attend class or start their first assignment. Getting breakfast or a beverage to have while beginning work can also help one get energized and ready to continue with a productive day.

Schedule blocks of time for different activities

Blocking time is a tool that can help refresh one’s brain, keep one on a schedule and avoid going down rabbit holes of work or distractions. By writing down what needs to be accomplished in a day, one can schedule their time around classes, assignments, work and other tasks. Switching up what one’s doing, even if it’s from one assignment to another, can help keep one alert and always looking forward to the next task.

Research shows that switching between assignments or subjects can boost efficiency and refresh one’s brain and approach each time they come back to a particular task. By dedicating hours or even half-hours to a specific assignment and sticking to that, one can boost their productivity and enjoy their work more.

Take a break from the screen

It’s important to take breaks whenever one studies, but this is vital when it comes to online learning. Long stretches of time spent looking at a screen can cause eye strain. This can, in turn, cause headaches and increased lethargy throughout the day. Taking breaks from the screen holds a multitude of benefits for both physical and mental health.

Taking a break from studying will reinvigorate one’s focus and motivation. However, to avoid online burnout and give one’s eyes a rest from looking at screens, one should get up and move around. One can get a snack, chat with a roommate or family member or even take a walk to get some fresh air.

Just by getting up every hour, one can improve their physical and mental health in a difficult season such as finals. Research has also shown that moving one’s body during consistent breaks throughout the day can boost productivity.

Online burnout is sure to ensue when students begin to spend the majority of their days at their computers studying for final exams. These tips may not cure the burnout entirely, but they could help one have a productive, positive day as opposed to a day that’s a struggle to finish.

Most importantly, one should keep their sights on the light at the end of the tunnel. There's only one more week of online school before Dukes will get an entire month off to see their families and enjoy winter break. After persevering through a couple of tough weeks, one can get as far away from the screen as they’d like and reset their mind and attitude before the spring semester begins.

Contact Charlotte Matherly at mathercg@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.