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Separate Spaces- Adapting to the “New Normal” of Online Learning

09 Sep 2020 - YouthY We Are Here

2020...not quite the year many of us were expecting. The world we know has been changing rapidly over the past few months.

In order to keep up, young people have been asked to study and work in unexpected ways.

To remain connected, both schools and universities throughout Australia have moved to online learning. Making everyone dependent on their devices to be able to connect with fellow students, tutors and teachers. Have these online changes been taking a toll on your physical and mental health?

The “new normal” has given the people a “make under” changing school uniforms & uni sweatshirts to pjs...all day...everyday. Face to face classes have shifted to Zoom, and group assignments have required a lot of emailing or online messaging back and forth.  So with all these changes this year is it any wonder we are all feeling a little off balance lately?

We are experiencing more screen time than ever seen before. Home environments are turning into a make-shift study space that has not been designed or set up correctly so that people are able to reach things safely and remain comfortable and when sitting for periods of time. This can include correct room lighting, working from a desk, having a foot rest or having items you use most set up within arm’s reach of your laptop or device. As explored in a 2010 study by Saxbe & Repetti Incorrect or cluttered spaces are more likely to lead to long term physical or mental health issues as a result of increased cortisol levels over a long period of time.



With all this in mind you might be thinking about your study space. Here are some helpful hints to get you started:

  • Separating your space:  When studying at home it can be hard to remain focused when you’re sitting in the middle of the kitchen or on the floor in front of your T.V…Setting up a designated study area in your home can be helpful to get organised for online learning.
  • Timely routines: Learning online will have impacted your usual school/tafe/uni routine. It is important to have some structure. You make like to book in  a coffee break, schedule in zoom group work catch up’s, lock in a few stretch breaks throughout the day. Some people have taken this super seriously!
  • Dress to impress… yourself: It is easy to end up still in your pj’s at 3pm at the moment. Even though you can, should you? Separating your wardrobe can help keep you motivated and on task.
  • Unplug: At the end of each day celebrate by switching off all electronic devices. Take it one step further by putting your devices (ipad,laptop or desktop) out of sight and out of your mind by covering them with a sheet, or closing a door to that space.
  • Spaces to change: create a physical space inside or outside of your home to do an activity to mark the end of your study day. (Eg, deep breathing before leaving your desk, an end of work alarm & celebratory mini dance,5-minute stretching routine)
  • End of day celebrations: Be sure to reward yourself for all your discipline and hard work by brewing a herbal tea, having a nice hot shower, burning a candle or going for a walk. Ensure that you take off your “uniform” before unwinding after work ends.


Sage Journals,

Davis et al, The Home Office: Ergonomic Lessons for the new normal,

Sydney Centre for creative change,

Saxbe, D. E. and Repetti, R. (2010) ‘No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate With Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(1), pp. 71–81. doi: 10.1177/0146167209352864,

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