How to Take Care of Your Physical and Mental Health When Studying an MA in Education
Have you decided to take the plunge and head back to college for a master’s degree in education? Congratulations! You will soon be starting an exciting and rewarding new chapter of your life and career as an educator that will broaden your horizons and stimulate your mind.
You’ve almost certainly already spent plenty of time thinking about how you can improve your study skills and succeed academically, whether that’s the best way to take notes or how to revise effectively for your exams. However, have you given any thought as to how you’ll look after your physical and mental health during your degree? No? In that case, this article is here to help – read on for some top tips!
Why Wellbeing is Important for Students
Many people have a glamorized image of student life in their heads, involving all-night study sessions in the library and a heavy reliance on caffeine to get them through their workload. In truth, this approach to doing an MA is very problematic. Not only is it harmful to both your mental and physical health, but it is also likely to have a negative impact on your grades.
As someone with an interest in education, you probably already know that your wellbeing is closely linked to your cognitive functions – and therefore, if one suffers, so does the other. That’s why it’s so important to take good care of yourself throughout your degree program.
How to Take Care of Yourself During Your Master’s in Education Degree
You’ll be pleased to hear that there are lots of relatively simple steps you can take that will keep you mentally and physically healthy throughout your degree. Stick to the following six pieces of advice, and you should see an improvement in both your wellbeing and your grades!
1. Prioritize Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep gives you a much better chance of feeling alert and refreshed when you wake up in the morning, which in turn puts you in a better mood. Not only that, sleep deprivation has been linked to all sorts of issues that can harm your studies – some of these include impaired concentration, poor memory, and difficulty with learning.
Throughout your course, you should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep every night – and especially before an exam. This will be much more effective than staying up all night cramming. If you struggle to get to sleep, try these tactics:
- Wearing an eye mask to block out light
- Avoiding screen time and caffeine late at night
- Not relying on alcohol to get you to sleep, as this reduces your sleep quality
- Sticking to the same sleep schedule every day
- Writing down your worries in a journal before bed to get them out of your head
- Listening to a sleep story or calming music as you drift off
- If you find you can’t sleep, don’t stay in bed getting annoyed about it. Instead, get up and go into a different room where you can read or do something else relaxing until you’re sleepy
2. Get Organized
Poor organization is one of the major reasons people get stressed out during their postgraduate studies. When studying for your MA you’ll likely have plenty of lectures and seminars to attend, research to conduct, and assignments to complete. The best tactic is to start working on your reading lists and essays early, to give yourself as much time as possible to complete them and avoid the need to pull an all-nighter.
If you’re studying a masters in education distance learning programme, make the most of that flexibility by crafting a study schedule that genuinely meets your needs. All of this will help you to reduce your stress levels, avoid burnout, and do your coursework to the best of your abilities. Plus, the skills you pick up along the way will almost certainly come in handy in your future career in education!
3. Maintain a Healthy Diet
The brain is part of the body, so it makes sense that the food you eat has an impact on your mood and cognition. You want to be consuming lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds while steering clear of junk food, processed meats, and sugary snacks. Likewise, swap the sodas and energy drinks for water – six to eight glasses a day should help you stay hydrated and keep your memory and concentration powers at their peak.
4. Live an Active Lifestyle
Staying physically active is important for many reasons, including keeping your body healthy and your mind happy. Luckily, as a student, you’ll have access to plenty of fun activities on campus that will keep you in good shape. Whether you want to attend a dance class, try out martial arts, join a sports team, or hit the gym, you’re sure to find something you enjoy.
If you’re studying an online course instead, check out what’s available in your local area – there might even be a student discount available! Where possible, try to spend time out in nature too, as exposure to sunlight is another key to good health.
5. Allow Time for Yourself
Doing a postgraduate degree can be all-encompassing; however, it’s important to take a step back every now and then and spend some quality time on other interests. For instance, this could be engaging in a creative hobby like art or music, learning something new like a foreign language, or catching a movie with a friend. Keeping some kind of boundary between your personal life and your academic life is especially critical for mature students with a family or a job.
6. Bond with Your Cohort
Studying can sometimes feel like a solitary activity, but it doesn’t have to be. College is a wonderful time to make friends with people who share your passion for education and build your professional network. Not only that, you’ll be able to motivate each other to stick with the course when it gets tough, discuss ideas for your dissertations, help each other study, and celebrate your achievements together.
All of this is true regardless of whether your MA is online or on-campus because you can still make meaningful connections with people virtually. Don’t feel restricted to only the students on your course either – your university is bound to have lots of fun social clubs you can join too.