Today’s post hits close to home for me as I have personally suffered from anxiety for several years but before we get too far into that, I need to mention that like many other mental illnesses, anxiety is different for everyone; we all have different triggers, we all have different responses or symptoms and we all have different methods of working through our anxiety.
Simply put, anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. It’s kind of stupid but the way I try to explain to others it is that my body’s fight or flight response is broken and now my body is just stuck in a constant state of anxiety trying to figure out which response a simple situation warrants. Does making a simple phone call deserve shaking hands, a racing heart and this horrible feeling of impending doom that just won’t go away? No way, but for some reason, completely unknown to me, my brain makes me react like that.
Studying with anxiety can be a bit of a task. There’s constant worrying about grades, deadlines, contacting and talking to teachers, meeting classmates, presenting in front of the class, and so, so much more but there is also things you can do to help!
- If there’s a situation that makes you uncomfortable or worries you, let your teacher/lecturer know. Teachers are there to help you and if there’s something they can do to help, they most likely will. For example, in high school, there was nothing more anxiety-inducing to me than public speaking. Thankfully, I had an understanding teacher who let me present to just her instead of the entire class. If you let your teacher know about your anxiety or certain triggers, they’ll be able to help you without having your grades suffer!
- Meditate or take some time to relax before you study. For some people, this may help you to take a breath, compartmentalize the anxiety to the back of your mind and push forward with getting your work done. It also helps lower stress levels, which is a trigger for many with anxiety.
- If quiet ambiance is too hard for you to work with and you need some sort of noise, play classical music, or a soothing playlist on Spotify. The white noise will help keep you focused on what you need to get done instead of the silence which can lead to distracting, anxious thoughts. There are so many out there but this one and this one are my absolute favourite!
- Take time to clean your study space. If you’re feeling particularly anxious about the amount of work you have or impending deadlines but have no motivation, take a minute or two to clean your desk, make your bed or organise your binders. This will give you the illusion of productivity and will get you working, as well as helping you feel better with a clean, organised workspace! After all, they do say clean study space, clean mind!
- Take some mental breaks! If you don’t already, I highly recommend using the Pomodoro method of studying. This basically breaks down your working time into 25-minute segments and after every 25 minutes, you take a 5-minute break. After an hour of work time, it’s recommended you take a longer break. This is perfect if you tend to switch off or disassociate with your work as it helps you to remain focused without the burnout.
- Try not to look at the clock. It’s so easy to feel like you’re running out of time, especially when you’re juggling a lot of deadlines. Being unproductive and staring at the clock while you panic at the limited time you have left to work is not going to help and will cause even more anxiety! If you can, remove or cover any clocks from your study space, so you’re less likely to focus on the time.
- Don’t track your grades. It’s easy to fall into the trap of tracking your grades and trying to always outdo yourself but this really isn’t good for your mental health. Good grades should not come at the cost of your mental health!
- Put positive quotes everywhere – computer background, phone lock screen, around your study space, on your bedroom walls, EVERYWHERE! They’re always so inspiring and mood boosting. It also doesn’t help that they’re super cute and make everything look 10x better!
Remember, if your anxiety is impeding on your general health or ability to live a ‘normal’ life, please, please seek help! There’s so much out there that you can do to help with anxiety, don’t be afraid to get the help you deserve!
If you have any tips for studying with anxiety, please leave them in the comments below! I’d love to see them!
This post was written in collaboration with studythenplay on tumblr and VCE-studyblog on instagram/tumblr who helped immensely with sharing some super handy tips on how to study when struggling with Anxiety. The #HappyHealthyStudy series here on Study Break Down is a collaborative series attempting to help others tackle the hardships of studying with mental illness.