With some students returning to classrooms, others learning remotely, and some doing a mix of both, it has become increasingly difficult for students to maintain a healthy lifestyle and solid school-life balance. As technology has become an active part of student education from elementary school to university, the line between where school ends and where personal time begins has become increasingly blurry. As an award-winning Bariatric Medicine Physician, Dr. Jan McBarron grows increasingly concerned about the health of students as workloads increase and children are forced to work from home. Dr. Jan McBarron is here to outline some of her best tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and school-life balance during a pandemic.

When your schoolwork starts to take over your personal time, it can have a negative impact on your life, causing fatigue, poor health, and lost time with loved ones and friends. While allowing schoolwork to spill into personal time seems like it could increase productivity, Dr. Jan McBarron explains that it can actually have an adverse effect. Stress, overwork, and a lack of focus can lead to poor long-term health impacts and decreased academic outcomes for students. Taking care of your health and balancing your responsibilities can make you more productive in the long run, and better protect you during the pandemic.

Adhere to a Schedule

With a working school schedule already in place, Dr. Jan McBarron suggests using this format to schedule in personal time for yourself. When you create a schedule, you are able to see a hierarchy of tasks laid out in front of you, ensuring that each one receives the attention it deserves. Do your best to break down big tasks into smaller, more easily completed tasks. Not only will this help you feel a sense of accomplishment, but it helps you better understand how long each responsibility will take. Dr. Jan McBarron reminds you to schedule walks, hobbies, physical exercise, self-care routines, and time with loved ones—they are just as important as schoolwork if not more so.

Take Regular Breaks

If you’re learning from home, you have the added flexibility of incorporating active breaks into your schedule. Dr. Jan McBarron suggests using this time to stretch, go for a short walk, have a healthy snack, or do something creative. Studies have found that breaks can reduce or prevent stress, help to maintain performance throughout the day, and reduce the need for a long recovery at the end of the day. Taking breaks can lead to increased motivation and creativity, so don’t feel like you have to work for 9 hours straight.

Getting Enough Sleep and Exercise

Dr. Jan McBarron suggests maintaining a healthy lifestyle to ensure sustained energy throughout the week. From drinking enough water to getting enough sleep and exercising, these habits will help you stabilize your energy and remain as productive as possible. When you make your health a number one priority, you are able to show up in all other aspects of your life with vigour, focus, and enthusiasm.

Lastly, remember that you have the power to set boundaries in your life, and sometimes that means you will not be able to get everything you want accomplished. Take it one step at a time and prioritize your mental and physical health above all else. As we face another year of COVID-19 uncertainty it has never been more important to take care of yourself.