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Study Stress

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Photo: Breeana Dunbar

Got an assignment due, or a big exam coming up? Stressing out? Well take a deep breath and relax, we’ve got you sorted with these strategies to beat study stress.

Everyone gets stressed out about study, but there are ways you can manage stress so that it doesn’t take over. The important thing is to plan, and to look after yourself.

Get Organised!
Try to work out a study plan or calendar. Work out when you are going to study what. Writing it down will help you work out how much time you need to spend on each topic, and make sure you’re not freaking out because you’ve missed something. Remember to include time off as well, where you can relax and take a break. Taking breaks is important; it gives your brain time to rest and process information. If you schedule this into your plan, you won’t be worried about losing study time. Check out Reachout’s guide to writing a study plan to see how it’s done.

Keep your work area clean. Tidy up any loose papers or textbooks and take away dirty dishes. This will help you focus. Make sure your workspace is quiet as well, so you don’t get distracted. If it’s too noisy at home try going to your local or school library.

Eat Healthy
Although it may seem easier to cram yourself full of junk food when you’re studying, it’s probably not a good idea. A well balanced diet will help you concentrate for longer, and avoid the mood swings that can come with too much sugar. If you’re stuck for ideas for healthy study snacks check out these Puffed Rice Bars, Bliss Balls or these Healthy Study Snacks.

Remember to eat breakfast (Everyday, not just on exam day!). Eating a healthy breakfast improves your concentration and performance, so you’ll be able to absorb more information. Plus you won’t get distracted by the rumbling stomach! Not sure what to eat? Try this Homemade Muesli.

Avoid caffeine. This one might be tricky! It might seem like a good idea to down a few coffees to keep you focussed, but caffeine can actually increase stress and anxiety. It can also mess with your sleeping patterns, and there’s nothing worse than trying to concentrate when all you wanna do is nap.

Sleep well
Try to get into a good sleeping pattern by keeping regular hours of going to bed and waking up. Most people need around eight hours sleep a night but some people need a little more or a little less- find out what works for you and try to stick with it. You might think staying up late to cram more in is a good idea, but it will be that much harder to concentrate the next day. If you are having difficulty sleeping check out Reachout’s Tips for getting a good night’s sleep. If getting enough sleep is a really big problem for you visit your GP for some more strategies to help you with your sleeping patterns.

Exercise
Exercise is a great way to manage stress. When you exercise your brain releases endorphins (chemicals that enhance your mood) that make you feel happier and will make your stress more manageable. So try to get a little bit of exercise every day; go for a walk, join a yoga class or play a team sport. Try to make this part of your routine and factor it into your study plan. If you get really stuck on a problem or are losing focus try going for a short walk before coming back to it, you mind find it gives you that extra bit of focus you need to solve the problem.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
Trying to study with a hangover is not a great idea. You won’t be able to concentrate and won’t be able to absorb much information. If you know you’ve got a big exam or assignment coming up try avoiding situations where alcohol might be present, or take a break from booze and stick to soft drinks. This goes the same for other recreational drugs, like marijuana, that will stop you from being able to focus on you work.

Other drugs that you think might help you study, or keep you awake, like No-Doz or Ritalin (unless it’s prescribed by your doctor) won’t actually help in the long run. While you might be able to read a few more chapters tonight, messing with your body and sleep patterns will make you feel worse in the end.  And if you can’t concentrate you  won’t be able to retain what you’re trying to learn.

Relax
Give yourself some time out to relax and unwind. Watch a movie or catch up with friends. You can even try yoga or meditation to help you relax. Check out the Smiling Mind App– modern mediation for young people.

Talk about it
If you’re feeling under too much pressure it might help to just talk about it. Chat to your friends who are going through the same thing, or ask your parents how they deal with stress. You’ll probably feel better for it and who knows what pearls of wisdom you’ll discover!

If you’re still having trouble managing your stress go and see your GP for some more management strategies, or try talking to your teachers or a school counsellor about it. They’ll probably have some different ideas about how you can minimise your stress, it’s all about finding what works for you.

Want more? Check out the rest of our posts on Studying here.

Relevant links:
Reachout
Youth Central
Smiling Mind App

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