I have found that studying and having certain expectations placed on you by both yourself and others causes a lot of stress and often a lot of anxiety too. While I have not yet mastered how to chill out to a point where I am completely calm, I have developed a few techniques which I thought I could share to try and help others out there – besides large cups of tea.
When I have a lot of things going on in my life, both personal and study-wise, I get a lot of anxiety and stress over the smallest of things. I feel myself constantly worrying about any and everything. And when one thing works itself out I worry about it all over again from a completely different angle. If I had a test coming up I would worry about whether I had enough time to study, and when I had studied as much as I could have I still worried that I could’ve done more.
Not only has this effected my physical health (it effects my eyesight, and my fingers go numb from not breathing enough, no really they do) it has also effected my mental health. This is too often not spoken about in the studying community. We are all so ready to focus on pretty notes, neat hand writing, and aesthetic desk layouts but we are (somewhat) silent on what goes on behind the scenes.
Dealing with anxiety is a really common issue amongst a lot of students of all ages. As many as 1 in 6 people are effected by an anxiety disorder. In my case I experience only a part of what those with an actual disorder do, so I can’t give advice on how to handle anxiety disorders (if you do suffer from and anxiety disorder or think you may please go speak to your Doctor about dealing with it, because telling yourself to relax is not going to work).
This is what I suggest for handling a stressful situation and periods of anxiety brought on from studying:
1. PLAN YOUR LIFE OUT TO-A-TEE
My stress and anxiety stems from a feeling of not being in control of my own situation and pressure to achieve. This combo spikes my anxiety to a whole new level and I am always convinced I am going to fall on my face and fail. What I have found as my best tool to defeat this feeling is to plan out everything. I mean everything. I assign a time to everything I do, which motivates me to keep pushing myself to get everything I need to done but also helps me feel like I am in control of all the moving parts of my life and that its not the other way round.
Plan your meals, your studying times, what you have to study, when you will take studying breaks and how long those will be and what you will do during them. Set out hourly, daily and weekly goals of what you need to achieve. Work backward starting with weekly priorities and then decide which ones you will do on what day. From there determine when in the day you will be able to set aside time to get this done. Seriously this works so well.
2. TALK ABOUT IT
Vent! People around you will be going through similar things as you, especially your friends who are in your classes etc. Other people feel your stress too, even if its not the same they will be able to understand it and can reassure you. I often get so worked up about the smallest things in my mind and once Ive spoken to my friends about it I feel so much better. Its not even about what they suggest but more about being able to unload your worries. Plus sometimes the advice is usually pretty solid.
Stress and anxiety have physical as well as mental side effects. I usually have tonnes of pent up energy from all the adrenaline when I’m really anxious (anxiety is caused by your body not being able to processes it). So releasing your energy through running or doing some type of activity will help you not only release all that energy but can also help you clear your head and get some quiet time to yourself and your own thoughts.
4. KNOW THAT YOU AREN’T PERFECT
Accept that you are not always going to be perfect, and that if you don’t succeed you are not a failure but just a person. We all get it wrong sometimes, and cant do everything. You might not get that A or even pass a test. You might forget to do something on time or wont study enough as you could have. Don’t be so harsh on yourself, because you don’t need to be your own worst enemy. While its great to have high expectations for yourself, as this helps you achieve your goals, it is extremely self-destructive to tear yourself apart if you get something wrong.
5. SET OUT GOALS
Create a vision board or list of your goals, aims & wishes. Stick it up somewhere you can see it often, as a visual reminder every day of what you are working toward is a great motivator to help you understand why you are in the situation that you are. I get really stressed out with studying and sometimes want to give up because the pressure is too much, but when I see my goals set out in front of me it serves as a great reminder of why I feel that stress — I want to achieve my goals. And its that realisation that I find has a calming effect as thats when the determination kicks in.
6. REFRAME YOUR THINKING
By reframing your anxiousness and stress from a negative thing into a positive thing, you can be a more productive version of yourself. By looking at your worries in a different way you can channel your stress into a positive outcome. Use it as a motivating tool to work hard, rather than as a distraction. While this is something that people with anxiety disorders can’t just do, if you experience stress and anxiety like I do you are more in control of your state of mind than you think. I give myself a little pep talk and realign how I am viewing a situation. You are the one who knows yourself best, so naturally you should be able to motivate yourself using the stress as a catalyst.
I hope this helps you calm down and take back control over your feelings of anxiousness and stress. These techniques work for me, but please comment below and add more that find help you!