Digital fatigue affects many students. But there’re ways out of it


Dr Judy Pickard UOW- Australia

It’s clear that lockdowns leave a legacy, and it’s not a positive one. The last 19 months of uncertainty have been tough on everyone. Not surprisingly, students of all ages – from pre-schoolers to the year 12 students about to sit their HSC exams to university students – have been among the hardest hit, many finding remote learning challenging.

Digital fatigue is just one of the symptoms of this new normal. Because when you combine social isolation with plenty of screen time and limited outdoor activities, you get a recipe for emotional exhaustion.

“This pandemic has taken a significant toll on student wellbeing. There are so many things we can’t do that we may feel completely out of control,” says Dr Judy Pickard, UOW’s Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology and a mindfulness expert.

Despite these negative sentiments, our expert shares a few simple ways to maintain resilience and a positive attitude when spending a lot of time at home.

Take one step at a time

How to combat inertia when faced with the repetitiveness of life? By doing one thing at a time, Dr Pickard advises. “If we think ahead and engage in worrying about the uncertainty of the future, we take on all the weight in one moment. And it gets heavy. But if we think about what we can do today, we maintain ‘the here and now’, and things become manageable,” she adds.

Get curious and let go

According to Dr Pickard, practising mindfulness means getting curious about the current situation. “We all tend to hold on to different expectations. We know we’re missing out, and we tend to obsess about it.” The only way to release the heaviness of ‘what could have been’ is by letting go of our preconceived ideas. “Then we can think how to make this new situation work for us,” adds Dr Pickard. Take care of yourself

Mindfulness is also the practice of self-compassion. “We can be our harshest critics, having high expectations of how we’re supposed to be doing or feeling,” says Dr Pickard. By allowing ourselves to be human – to let go of the struggle and accept the situation as it is, and take more time and space than we usually do – we’re building our mental strength.