Life has been filled with adaptations in the past year or so, and students have had no choice but to take each change as it comes and adjust accordingly. For many, these changes have meant moving to online courses or school from home. This may sound like a dream to some, but to others, this has resulted in high levels of stress.
Regardless of where you learn, one thing is for sure: You need to create a stress-free learning environment. Here are some tips:
DECLUTTER Your Space
This is the simplest but most important solution. You may not even realize it, but something as small as discarded clothing in a pile on the floor can subconsciously add to your stress. If you are working on a challenging assignment or just feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work you have on your plate, anything out of place can make you feel out of control. Having a clean, clear workspace will help you feel at ease in your space and lessen your visual distractions.
CLEAR Your Mind
Get your thoughts organized. Similar to your out-of-order room, an overcrowded brain can create distractions within your mind that make focusing on any one thing seem impossible. The best way to declutter your mind is to write down whatever is taking up most of your thoughts and get everything organized on paper. If you can work out what you’re thinking, it will be easier to tackle those thoughts and feel less overwhelmed.
FIND Your Calm
Identify whatever brings you peace or helps you relax, whether that be a candle, a hot bath, soft music, a warm drink, etc. When you begin feeling stressed over your studies, seek out your comfort item and allow it to help ease your anxiety or frustrations. Sometimes just a change of scenery can help ease stress. If the weather is nice and you enjoy the outdoors, try taking your studies to the park or in your backyard. If you find a library or coffee shop comforting and you are able to go study there, take advantage of that setting.
MAKE Time for Groups (via zoom/hangouts/etc.)
The oh-so-common saying about strength in numbers proves to work for some people. If you feed off the energy of other people and it helps you to run through questions/answers out loud with another person, finding the time and creative ways to study with a group or even just one other person can be extremely beneficial. While you may be stuck at home, you can zoom with your classmates or study through a phone call.
DEVELOP A Rapport With Your Teacher
Having a good line of communication with your teachers is always important, but especially when schooling at home. Your teachers want you to succeed and want you to express interest in the subject they are teaching. Reach out to them for further explanation if you are confused. If you are struggling to complete an assignment on time, reach out to them about an extension. If you really don’t feel prepared for a test, ask them for additional study aids or more time.
PLAY Background Music
Soft background music usually helps quiet a person’s mind so they can focus on the task in front of them. If you have a short attention span or need complete silence, then any added noise may not relieve your stress. Find out if this method works for you, if not, simply scrap the idea and try one of these other tips.
UTILIZE Natural Light
If you are in a kitchen or office with harsh lighting, this can reflect off your papers and end up giving you a headache. Also, harsh, bright lighting can increase stress levels in some people so try and study by natural light during the daytime by sitting near a window.
This seems self-explanatory, but you may not even realize that some things are distracting you. Something as simple as having your phone on the bed beside you, even if you are not using it, can distract you. Make sure you put your phone away and on silent, you turn off the TV and any other electronics, and if you have pets, try to go to a different room.
KEEP An Updated To-Do List
Put your written list from Tip #2 to use! A detailed, easy-to-follow to-do list will help you feel like you have everything under control. All those to-dos that were swirling around your mind, stressing you out, are now laid out in a manageable task list. Make sure you mark off each to do as you go to celebrate each accomplishment.
TAKE A Step Back
If you have tried all of these tips and you are still feeling stressed and unproductive in your studies, it may be time to take a step back. Time to breathe and get your mind off your studies for a minute is much needed. Once you have taken a break and relaxed, pick back up and get that to-do list checked off. Once you have finished everything on your to-do list, make sure you treat yourself.
Taking short breaks from studying to clear your head is essential, and it can also help with productivity. Studies have shown that taking short breaks every ninety minutes can help increase your ability to focus.
Here is a list of healthy study break activities:
- Take a walk – taking some time to get some exercise and fresh air can help boost your energy, and take fido with you!
- Have a snack – the right kind of snack can improve your concentration. But anything with too much sugar can cause you to crash!
- Tidy up – cleaning up the space around you can make you feel more organized.
- Drink water – hydration keeps your brain functioning properly.
- Take a nap – a quick 10-20 minute power nap can help refresh your brain, but any longer can leave you feeling groggy.