Stress Management

Be patient. Sometimes things happen very quickly in an online course: for example, you might get an immediate grade on your quiz or exam if it is being graded automatically online. Yet there are also many times when you will have to be patient in your online course. You may have to wait for the instructor or the other students to respond to your work. Sometimes you will need to be patient with the technology, since there will probably be some point during the semester when there is some kind of computer outage. And if you are someone who gets frustrated learning new things about computers: be patient with yourself! If some of the technology is new to you, it will take you a little time at first to get used to it. In any case, don't stress about it! Be patient - and ask for help from your instructor if you are feeling frustrated or confused.

Take time to reflect. In a traditional classroom, class discussion has to take place under the watchful eye of the clock, with every minute ticking by: you have to respond quickly to what is said if you want to make a contribution to the discussion. This is usually not a constraint in online discussions. You can afford to take your time! So if there is an especially interesting or challenging discussion happening at the discussion board, take a few minutes to ponder and reflect before you reply. You can let your thoughts take shape while doing other things, and post a reply when you are sure about what you want to say. Don't put off your participation until the last possible minute - but if you give yourself some time to ponder, you will find that the online discussion can take on more meaning for you, more relaxing, and much less stressful!

Taking breaks is important! Taking a few minutes to stretch and bend and breathe is a great idea when you are working on the computer for possibly hours at a time. Your back, neck and shoulder muscles can get very tense when you are sitting and working at the computer. Give yourself a break every hour or so to relax!

Keep on going! Be flexible and keep on going, even if there is some snag or unexpected delay with the course. If you are waiting for the instructor's feedback on one of your assignments, see if you can continue to work ahead, based on the tasks you feel most confident with. If there is a technology problem (D2L outage, email outage), figure out what aspects of the course you can continue to work on until the technology is back on track. It's like finding out that there's roadwork ahead - don't turn around and go home just because you have to take an alternate route. Whatever you do, don't stress out - just keep on heading toward your destination!

Read all assignment instructions first! At the beginning of each course unit, take a look through all the assignments for that unit, so that you know what is going to be expected of you. This will help you focus on the most relevant and important materials in the assigned readings for the course. Are there sample assignments provided? Take a look at the sample assignments, and be aware - in advance - of the kind of work you are going to be doing for each assignment. This is a great way to avoid possible stress: if you know what is coming, you won't be caught by surprise! And if there is some part of the instructions that you do not understand, ask your instructor for more information, or check with other students for advice.

Set priorities. There are always going to be times during the semester when you face a real "crunch," making it hard to get everything done. There might be a big assignment due in one of your classes, or you might have doctor's appointments, or car trouble, or something else unexpected that gets in the way of your usual schedule. In order to cope with these "crunch" times, you should have a definite sense of priorities for your online class. Each week, what are the absolute most important tasks for you to complete? Take a look at how the grade is determined in the class: what are the most important assignments? Make sure that you keep this priority in mind when "crunch" time comes... because pretty much every semester, you are going to have at least one serious "crunch" time, and you will need to adjust your priorities accordingly.

This document was modified from materials created by the University of Oklahoma.