Every morning I wake up and think: “Yep, there’s a literal pandemic outside”. Something very serious I didn’t ever think I might see in my lifetime. But here we are, still going to class via the magical power of the subpar Australian Internet Infrastructure, still handling life however fast it comes at us. So let’s put on some pants, put on a cool shirt, and go through the ways we can make sure we can work in tip-top shape, despite the fact we’re working at the place we once spent 8 hours watching YouTube videos about some kid from London reviewing chicken shops… okay maybe that was just me, but here are some tips on how to stay healthy while studying from home.
Wash your hands. I’m certainly not the first to say it, and I absolutely will not be the last. But making sure that you wash your hands regularly is the best way to make sure you’re not spreading germs around wherever you’re currently quarantined. Thoroughly scrubbing your hands with soap for 20 seconds before rinsing them is one thing, but I’m more interested in the hidden incentives to wash. For example, if you wash your hands frequently enough, you hands will smell TERRIFIC. I’ve never before this week, accidentally smelt my own hands and thought “those palms smell delightful”. Strange times indeed.
Washing my hands frequently also led to a moment where my housemate and I were washing our hands at the same time, both thoroughly scrubbing, complimenting each other on how well we washed our hands and we then partook in the most hygienic high-5 the world has ever witnessed. We call it the Washed-5, and it will connect you to another human being in a way you never thought possible.
One of the interesting things I’ve noticed in the process of going online with classes has been the weird experience of having all 20 of your classmates crammed on a Zoom meeting, 12 inches from your face, all audibly professing their love for the cat and/or dog that has just wandered on screen. An event that maybe occurs 10 times over the course of a two hour tutorial. Even the fact of just looking at a screen instead of a tutor at the front of the room for two hours is weird.
Weirdness aside, subjecting yourself to staring at a screen for long periods of time isn’t great for your eyes. While any grandparent can tell you that spending too much time looking at a screen can make your eyes go square, I, with the guidance of optometrists (or as I like to call them…Eyeball Masters) can tell you that the strain excessive screen work can create is easily avoidable with some simple eye exercises.
The “20-20-20” Exercise: Say you’ve been studying (or checking socials) for a while. Walk over to a nearby window, and look for an object roughly 20 feet away from your window (Tree, rooftop, the person in the street that should be inside; shoot them a shame look), then stick your hand in front of your face and shift your focus between your eyes for 20 seconds. The exercise says to do this every 20 minutes of screen time (hence the 20-20-20 part) but no one is perfect, and doing it fairly regularly is better than not doing it at all.
Take a short break: You can take a small moment in any of your online classes to break up the pace. Get a glass of water, appreciate a plant inside or out the window. Listen for some birds, or car honks, or whatever noise is around you. Just do something for a minute that isn’t in a Zoom meeting.
Blink more: Straight up, just blink some more, get some more moisture around your eyes.
When you’re in the zone studying, you probably haven’t realised that in the process, your spine is so bent up that you look like the Disney+ remake of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I’ve always said that a good back is like a good sandwich, a very well structured one is best. As someone who has had various posture lessons in his life (and has eaten plenty of good sandwiches) I’ve got two simple ways to improve posture:
- Practice a neutral posture: meaning keep your back flat against your chair (or couch, or in my case as I type this; an exercise ball, that I almost fell off of in a Zoom class today). Try to keep your screen at eye level, so you don’t tilt your head, and keep your feet sitting flat on the floor.
- Physical movement breaks: Taking breaks at regular intervals to stretch your arms, stretch your legs, do a Tik-Tok dance, etc, is the most effective way to keep yourself limber and keep your back properly stacked.
So there you have it! Just wash your hands, don’t burn out your eyes, and keep your back straight. Keep doing it all regularly, and I can certainly guarantee that things WON’T get worse as a direct result.
For info updates on the University’s response to COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 page.
Feature image via Unsplash