By Jody Bell

Juggling homework, classes, internships, and college-preparations all while working remotely in an increasingly stressful and isolated world. This is the unfortunate reality of students in 2020. 

Most students are in this predicament ‒ 93% of households are reporting at least one child engaged in distance learning. Aside from the dwindled quality of education and eye strain, the result of this switch has been a major disruption to our daily schedules. 

Schooling ‒ either K-12 or college level ‒ traditionally follows a strict schedule that blocks certain times for certain activities. This is crucial as it gives our brain time to “reset” from activity to activity, along with a designated time and place to focus on schooling. This, combined with restricted access to socialization, means we’re experiencing a disappearing line between work and play. School work is done in the same place as relaxation, and there is no real definite “end” to our school day. Now, as online classes and homework blend together, it just seems as though there is a constant stream of work that needs to be done. 

Jennifer Openshaw, CEO of Girls With Impact, sat down with model, self-care activist, and CEO, Danika Brysha. Brysha has devoted her life to adopting and sharing self-care tips, and has some great advice on how we can leverage aspects of self-care to be productive while at home. Here’s what she had to say!

1. Start with a Schedule

The pandemic has uprooted our daily routines  ‒ now it’s our responsibility to create and adhere to some sort of new schedule. 

Traditionally we have a set time each day that we focus on a particular subject in school, practicing some skill or sport, and socialization. Now that this isn’t built into our day we have to intentionally make time for these activities ‒ not only to ensure we aren’t ignoring them, but to give ourselves a necessary routine. 

2. Force Yourself to Change Your Surroundings

Spending hours locked away doing your school work, chatting with friends, and relaxing in the same room? Turns out that could be detrimental to your mental health. 

Similar to a lack of routine, being in the same room doesn’t allow our brain that “reset” time from activity to activity. This means it can be really difficult to switch from relaxation to schoolwork if you do both activities in the same room.

It can be easy to stay in the same spot all day, so it’s crucial you make time to purposely change up your surroundings. Either build it into your schedule, or force yourself to do an everyday task in a new environment. For example, when you’re eating lunch, try to sit outside, or see if a family member could eat lunch with you in a room you don’t normally spend time in. 

3. Breakdown Your Work

We all know the feeling ‒ staring at your work overwhelmed so the aimless scrolling through social media begins.

If you have a major project you need to focus on, it can be even more overwhelming when you’re sitting at home, easily distracted and able to procrastinate. The key to this is breaking down your work into manageable steps. Completing these small steps will provide you with the small wins you need to stay motivated. Plus, it’s easier to remind yourself to take breaks, get water, and change your surroundings when your work is broken down. 

4. Honor What Feels Good

Suddenly craving a homemade cupcake? Make one! 

Truthfully, making this cupcake might actually help you get your work done.  Feeling unsatisfied, and wanting to go and spend time elsewhere will leave you working at partial capacity while your mind is divided. Taking 15-30 minutes to rearrange your schedule and impulsively honor a craving could end up boosting your productivity in the long-run.  So next time you have the urge to impulsively bake, do it!

Check out the complete interview for even more self-care tips for GenZ:

Jody Bell, 19, is Girls With Impact’s Chief Editor and a program graduate. Girls With Impact is the nation’s only online, after-school, entrepreneurship program for teen girls, turning them into tomorrow’s business leaders and innovators.