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School is among the biggest sources of stress among teens. Even before the pandemic, school-related demands were considered the common triggers of teen stress. In a 2014 survey released by the American Psychological Association (APA), many teens reported high stress levels even higher than those reported by adults, especially during the school year. This was about six years before the pandemic. Now that the coronavirus outbreak spawned a sudden shift to online learning, students are expected to deal with even bigger problems.
How are online classes affecting the health and well-being of teenagers?
Before the pandemic, activities done online were generally regarded as favorable and convenient. From payments, reservations to registrations, everything became easier when done remotely. However, to the surprise of many, the same rule didn’t apply to online classes.
In a recent study, students who have been attending classes online reported feeling more distressed and tired compared to those who were allowed to attend class in person once a week. Many researchers believe that the high stress associated with remote learning is due to the lack of social interactions that create a sense of isolation among students. Moreover, the unfamiliarity of students and teachers to the online learning setup adds up to their lengthy list of burdens.
A new term, “Zoom fatigue,” also emerged. This refers to the exhaustion or burnout linked with long video chats. According to a study published only recently, Zoom fatigue is likely to occur due to four primary reasons: (1) prolonged virtual gaze and faces seen up close; (2) higher cognitive load due to reduced non-verbal cues; (3) seeing oneself constantly in real-time; and (4) reduced mobility. Overall, these factors are taxing the brain and may lead to eventual burnout.
How can teens effectively manage the stress and possible burnout brought by online classes?
There are many ways to reduce the stress and burnout associated with online classes. These include:
- Take a break between online lectures
Prolonged online video calls compel the brain and eyes to work double the normal. Eventually, this could cause you eye strain and mental fatigue. The best solution is to limit screen time as much as possible. If it isn’t required to keep your camera on, opt to turn it off. If it’s mandatory to keep your camera on, don’t hesitate to communicate to your classmates and professors about your situation. A 5- to 15-minute break during class can help reduce the risk of Zoom burnout.
- Keep your social circles
Remote learning could be an isolating process. The pressure of schoolwork is there, but your usual support group is physically absent. You can reduce the feelings of loneliness and isolation by staying social. Schedule an online get-together every week. A short and simple phone call to your pal is also a good way to lessen your baggage.
- Engage in fun, healthy activities
Finding a stress-relieving activity is also one way to combat the burnout linked to online classes. You can create a workout plan or learn how to do yoga. Other fun and healthy activities you can do include painting, drawing, and even gardening.
The Bottom Line
Online classes come with their share of challenges. You can lessen the weight of your burden by knowing how to manage daily virtual sessions. If you’re feeling exhausted, cynical, and hopeless, you might want to consult a doctor for possible mental health diagnosis and expert advice.