How to Care for your Health and Wellbeing While Completing an Online Degree - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

How to Care for your Health and Wellbeing While Completing an Online Degree

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With the sheer number of job losses and most importantly the hit that young professionals have taken due to the pandemic, it’s time to rethink your strategy. The majority of salaried employees today who have been let go, were let go because they lacked experience. Their company did not have the funds to keep them on in a supportive role, much less to train them up as they went along. This applied to junior roles, all the way to newly appointed managers.

Taking this time to retrain and improve credentials through online courses and degrees isn’t just smart but essential. It will allow you to return to the workplace with an edge over your fellow job seekers. It’s even essential if you still have your existing job. Training now to improve your skillset and practical knowledge will work to safeguard your position and set yourself as a real go-getter in such a trying time.

Showcase your commitment to yourself and your work by completing online courses, workshops, and even full degrees. Push yourself, but remember to follow this guide so that you can maintain your physical and mental health.

Without these two pillars behind you, your attempts at learning while you either continue your career or hunt for new jobs while taking on some part-time position to keep food on the table, will be for nothing. One cold could put you out of commission. A break down could ruin all your progress.

Care for yourself, and see everything else fall into place. With this guide, you too will be able to do it all:

Choosing the Right Degree: Support and Guidance is a Must

One of the first and most important steps you need to take for your health and wellbeing is to ensure the quality of your degree. Not only do you need to be 100% committed to it and believe wholeheartedly that it will help your career, it must also be designed in such a way to support you through the difficult task of completing an online degree while working full-time.

Even if you aren’t working full-time, but instead isolating at home, there are many challenges to face, especially with your mental health. Having the support of your university makes a massive difference in your success and in the quality of your education.

Accredited

First and foremost, if you are aiming to complete a degree, especially one as important as an online MBA, it must be accredited. Accreditation proves to both you and your employer that the education you have received was quality, and reached certain standards. In the business world, you will want to find an online MBA with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which is only awarded to 5% of schools around the world. It ensures that those teaching you have the professional and academic qualifications necessary and that the institution as a whole provides the necessary learning resources to help you succeed.

Recommended

It should be recommended by alumni, be well-ranked, and well-regarded by other professors and the professional community as a whole. A great online MBA would have all of this naturally – just look it up online and see what others are saying about it. Take note of any suggestions on how to better your experience during this time. There is only so much a great institution can do for you. You will have to meet them half-way to get the most out of your online degree.

Built for Online

In this day and age there is no excuse for an online degree to not have been designed with the online world in mind. This means using top-notch tools and online resources to provide a comprehensive and seamless experience online. An MBA, quickly pasted for an online learning environment, will never compete with an online MBA that was designed for that purpose.

Supportive Resources

Supportive resources range from mental health services to library resources, all the way to career services. Universities are not isolated entities. If they are not actively helping you be your best, both during your degree and after you graduate, then they are not doing enough. Especially with such a career-focused degree like an online MBA. There must be a team and a network in place to help you see your dreams through.

Improving Your Health

Finding and applying to an online MBA program that offers all the above and more is the best way to start your efforts. While your application is being processed or while you wait for the intake to begin is the perfect time to follow up and improve your physical health.

A long day at the office is often all we have the energy for, especially if you frequently work overtime. Adding a degree on top of this is not something that can naturally be incorporated without significant investment on your part.

1.    Improving Your Diet

There are many ways that you can work to improve your diet, without a huge overhaul of effort.

To start, remove unhealthy temptations and easy-to-make meals that offer little in terms of nutritional value. The goal here isn’t to lose weight necessarily but to instead replace what you consume now with foods rich in vitamins and nutrients. Perfecting that food pyramid will help give your body the natural fuel that it needs to help you through your day.

Time is, of course, an issue. If you don’t have time or energy to make healthy meals your efforts can quickly go down the drain. Good ways to avoid this are to switch out snacks to healthy alternatives – nuts, fruits, protein bars, etc. You can even prep healthy meals for lunch, or lunch and dinner, so you can eat better but only extend energy making food once or twice a week.

2.    Improving Your Sleep

It isn’t just how long you sleep, it is how well you sleep. If you frequently wake up at night you are not getting the rest that will help you carry on through the day and then continue afterward on your online MBA.

To get a deeper night’s sleep, there are a few things that you can do.

To start, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Aim for at least seven hours of consecutive sleep, though if you feel like you need more eight or nine hours is also ideal. Try not to get less, as this can greatly inhibit your ability to function throughout the day.

Stay away from screens in the few hours before bed. Instead, treat yourself. Have a bubble bath, read a book or work on a personal project. All of these options will help your body physically prepare for sleep and give your mind a much-needed break where it can settle.

3.    Improving Your Fitness

Exercising more regularly helps you manage energy levels and improve cognitive function. Circulation of blood through the brain keeps us alert and focused. Exercise helps massively with this process and works to deposit high levels of oxygen into the brain. Though you will feel tired initially if you haven’t been keeping fit beforehand, over time your exercise routine will help you stay more awake and alert throughout the day.

Exercising in particularly is one of the tasks you are going to want to start ASAP. It is tiring when you first begin because your muscles are pushed to their limit. As you get used to even a gentle workout, however, that effort will drop and you will instead enjoy the many benefits of exercise on a regular basis.

Safeguarding Your Mental Health

Your health isn’t the only thing you need to concern yourself with, though improving your fitness, sleep, and diet will do wonders towards helping you feel better and stronger. Your mental health, however, can take a downturn even if you are the most in-shape you have ever been in your life.

Seeking Out Help Before You Begin

If you have a mental illness that you have been struggling with, the added pressure of a degree on top of your career is not going to help. It is a good idea to seek out and find support and professional help beforehand. Do this as soon as you possibly can, as well. Finding mental health help isn’t a one-day process. Many take months, even years to find the right therapist and medication to balance their brains and be the best version of themselves.

Even if you don’t have time to find that perfect combination, simply knowing that there is someone to turn to when your mental health becomes too much is a great relief for those taking on two big goals.

Taking Breaks Regularly

While completing your online MBA, it is important to take breaks regularly. This also applies to your work, though you will have greater control over the precise study/break regimen. Find the right pacing for you. This could be 20 minutes’ work, five minutes break, and then a larger break every hour or two hours. It depends entirely on what keeps you most productive and healthy.

Making Time to See Friends and Family

Your support network is crucial during your degree, so don’t allow a busy schedule to stop you from seeing them. Even something as minimal as studying together at the same table can do wonders for your mental health. You should never feel alone. If you need to shave off time, combine activities with your friends and family; exercise together or make your lunches for the week together. There are many ways you can combine tasks so you can make time for your loved ones, without breaking from your schedule.

Know Warning Signs of a Breakdown

Nervous breakdowns are not pretty and are actually very hard to recover from. It isn’t just that you hit a point where you just couldn’t do it anymore. Returning to that environment that put you in such a position is mentally taxing and sometimes traumatic. If you put yourself in that position again you will be at an increased risk of having another breakdown in the future.

The best way to continue to succeed is to know the warning signs, to adjust, and to prioritize your mental health and wellbeing. Breakdowns aren’t just hitting a point of “no” they are a culmination of depression, anxiety, and acute stress disorder. They are not to be taken lightly.

Signs of a breakdown include:

  • Depression or depressive symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Tense muscles
  • Clammy hands
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • PTSD symptoms
  • Panic attacks

Panic attacks are probably one of the biggest indicators that you are heading towards a nervous breakdown. Going into a panic, which many describe as feeling like they are going to die, is not a normal reaction to juggling a career and a degree. If you put too much pressure on yourself and then experience severe reactions when you “fail” in some way, however, you are increasing the risk of panic attacks and a full nervous breakdown.

Recognize these symptoms, and seek out help ASAP if you start experiencing them. This could be by dropping a credit for the time being so you only take the minimum required by your online MBA. Get your employer on board, or assert your right to be paid overtime for overtime hours. There are so many ways for you to stand up for yourself and your mental health.

Care for Yourself, and You’ll Achieve Your Goals

Caring for yourself in this way is not a weakness. It is actually how you will thrive at work, and how you will graduate from your online MBA at the top of your class. There is no shame in needing help, only in trying to do it all alone. We are not built for isolation, so seek out help when you need it, and use the rest of the tips in this guide to help you achieve your goals.


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