Sudying, getting homework and assignments done and sitting exams can be difficult at the best of times, but it’s even harder for students if they’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed.
Helping students to develop good study habits, manage their time and deal with stress as it happens, can help them to stay on top of their study so it doesn’t get them down.
Good study habits can help students to learn as well as make sure they get everything done. A helpful start is having a study area that is well lit and away from noise and other people in the house. If this isn’t possible, it might be better for them to study at the library.
Here are some helpful tips:
Study habits – Help them to keep their desks tidy and organised – it means they can concentrate on studying and learning, not trying to find things. Regular breaks are also important. Getting up, moving around and away from the desk at least every 50 minutes for 10 minutes helps them to concentrate and learn better.
Managing time – meeting deadlines for homework or assignments, or preparing for exams can sometimes seem overwhelming. It can be helpful for students to develop a study timetable so they can balance study and other commitments. Have them write down all the things they need to do each day of the week and how long they will need for each one, including time for enough sleep, relaxation and exercise.
Managing stress – everybody gets stressed about studying sometimes and stress can help to keep people motivated and focused. But too much stress can sometimes make young people feel overwhelmed, confused, exhausted and edgy. It can also lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Key points to remember:
- Having a balance of activities can help students to avoid burning out. It’s a good idea for them to find time each day for relaxing, being active and hanging out with friends.
- Even though they might not feel like they have time, exercising, eating well and plenty of sleep are also important.
- If they’re finding it hard to stay on top of their study, it’s a good idea for them to talk to someone about it. Encourage them to talk to a school counsellor or to their teachers.
- Alcohol or other drugs, caffeine or energy-boosting drinks, won’t take away the pressure of study … and the after-effects of these substances often make people feel worse.
- Being organised and having a plan will prevent them from leaving everything to the last minute and that will also contribute to them feeling “in control”.
When they don’t do as well as expected
Failing or not performing as well as expected at school, university or TAFE can be very stressful, especially if students have previously averaged higher marks or are depending on high results to get into a particular course or profession.
Rather than feeling bad about it, try to encourage them to take some positive action such as:
Talk to their teachers – if teachers know a student is having problems, they will be more likely to organise extra help, extra time to complete tasks or special consideration when marking.
Tell them not to be hard on themselves – getting lower marks than they’d hoped for doesn’t mean they’ve failed or that they won’t achieve their goals, but rather that they might benefit from improved study habits or reassessing their choices.
Get help when they need it – if they feel so anxious or down about their results that they are no longer able to enjoy things they used to, it’s a good idea to talk to a trusted adult such or a GP.
For more information about making the most of studying, visit www.youthbeyondblue.com or call the beyondblue info line on 1300 22 4636.
Trained counsellors are available by phoning these 24-hour telephone counselling services: Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800.
Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha