7 Tips That Will Make you an At-Home-Learning Champion

Welcome to our leadership blog series! This month Poonam Gahlla, NMSA International VP of Social Media, and a student at Bastyr University California in San Diego, California, discusses her favourite tips for adapting to the new study-from-home format

7 Tips That Will Make you an At-Home-Learning Champion

When we are so used to having a routine and the separation of school and home, it can be really difficult to adapt to distanced learning (I know I really struggled with adapting). So, since a majority of classes are online for many students, I thought it would be helpful to share some of my best study tips for at home learning!

Take care of your eyes

This seems like a silly tip for studying, but it is such an important part of our focusing abilities and studying capabilities. Two of my favorite ways to reduce eye strain after hours of Zoom classes are using blue light blockers and following the 20 – 20 – 20 Rule.

  • 20 – 20 – 20 Rule: For every 20 minutes that you are staring at a screen, you should look at something that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help reduce your eye strain, keep your eyes lubricated (dry eyes make it harder to focus), and can also help prevent headaches.
  • Blue Light Blockers: These are a GAME CHANGER!!! Blue light blocking glasses block the blue light that comes from your screens, which if you’re using screens form more than 6 hours a day, can result in headaches and eye strain. Before I started using blue blockers, I was getting extreme headaches and would feel super nauseated after a day full of Zoom classes. It would then be time to study and it was extremely difficult for me to focus or retain anything at that point. I’m so grateful for the upperclassmen at BUC who suggested I use blue blockers! I haven’t gotten nauseated due to screen time since using them and overall I feel less eye strain and headaches too. It has also made it easier for me to fall asleep after staying up late to study.

Go Outside & Ground yourself

With all the screen time we have for class, it is crucial to ground yourself and get some vitamin D! Fresh air breaks help to break up the long study days at our desks and most of the time, you will feel refreshed after grounding yourself outside and will come back to your studying more focused.

Make a Study Schedule / Set Time Boundaries

When we are home all the time, it is so easy to get distracted by housework, family, pets, etc. One thing that has helped me stay more focused and productive is to have a schedule of when school time is, when family time is, when study time is, and when it’s time to focus on personal things. Having these set times makes it easier to stay on track because you know what you should be putting your energy into at any given time and can just forget the other tasks you need to get done in the other aspects of your life for the time being. Also, don’t forget to set time out for breaks! It’s so important to take a break and step away from your desk.

Set Physical Boundaries

When we’re home for class, it’s is so easy to want to sit in bed and study (or even join your Zoom class from bed – I’m not proud, but I’ve done it)! It is so important to create that separation in relaxing space and study space. Personally, I make it a rule to not bring anything school related in my bedroom, so I have that distinction of studying happens in my study space and my relaxing happens in my room. I know this is not necessarily an option for everyone depending on living arrangements, but you could make a rule to not study while sitting on your bed. It’s important for your body to recognize these as different spaces so that it can associate your room or bed with calm and not with stress (this can mess up your hormone levels).

Accountability buddies

During this time, you are not alone, even if it may feel like it sometimes. A couple of my closest classmates/friends and I have a group chat and we will check in with each other on assignments, studying, understanding concepts, etc. We also have done Zoom study groups where we talk through some pathways, review lectures, or test each other on material before a midterm. This has really helped me to stay on track with my own personal study schedule because I want to make sure I’m keeping up with the same pace as them. Having that accountability group not only helps you stay on track, but it helps you feel that sense of community that you could be missing while having school from home. If you want to study alone but don’t want to be alone, there is FocusMate! Our NMSA VP of Communications, Tara Zwicker, introduced me to it. With FocusMate, you choose a time to work and the app will pair you with a live accountability partner for a virtual coworking session!

Use Study Apps OR put your phone in a different room

Its so easy to just pick up your phone when you are studying and get distracted on social media. Personally, I have gotten a lot better at not picking up my phone while studying just by muting all of my notifications except for my classmates accountability group chat. If you don’t think you can do this yet (and that is completely okay), try putting your phone as far away from your study area as possible. That way you won’t be tempted to look at it all the time. There are other apps that will restrict all phone/tablet usage for a designated amount of time, so there are absolutely no distractions while you are studying. Some of these apps that I have heard good things about are Self Control (iOS), Forest: Stay Focused (iOS and Android), & Pomodone (iOS and Android).

I hope y’all found these tips helpful! Happy Studying!

Poonam Gahlla

Poonam Gahlla is a second year Naturopathic Medical Student at Bastyr University California located in San Diego, California. She was born and raised in Orange County and graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2016 with a major in Business Economics and a minor in Germanic studies, while simultaneously completing the Life Science core curriculum necessary for medical school.

Poonam volunteered for 3 ½ years in the operating rooms at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, a trauma 1 medical center located in Irvine. She was hand selected to help pioneer a volunteer program to assist in the 18+ state of the art operating rooms. Poonam went on to complete her Masters of Public Health degree in 2017 from California Baptist University.

She has had her fair share of exposure to medical doctors in her life and has always believed that there has to be a better way to help people heal. This curiosity coupled with her determination and passion for helping others heal is what sparked her love for Naturopathic healing. She is very excited about her future and the impact she will be able to make with Naturopathic Medicine. She was the proud recipient of the 2020 NMSA Rising Star Award and the 2020 NMSA President’s Choice Award. She is so excited to be able to serve the NMSA again as the VP of Social Media!

In her free time, Poonam loves spending time with good friends, reading, exploring new cities with amazing food, and listening to great music, especially going to concerts. Poonam continues to chronicle her journey to becoming a Naturopathic doctor in a blog that she has run for a few years called A SoCal Girl’s Journey. She is also very passionate about giving back to those in need, which is why she recently launched a small business, Lyrical Graffiti Online. This not only provides a creative outlet for her, but is also a platform that allows her to give back to those in need.

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