Albert Herring via Wikimedia Commons
A high school student is under constant stress – they need to do well in school, participate in extracurriculars, make time for friends and family, and still somehow go to bed at a reasonable hour (as if that ever happens). Sitting down to do your homework and study for the 4,561 tests, quizzes, presentations, and essays in the coming week can feel entirely overwhelming, even though it shouldn’t. Here are 10 small ways to minimize your study stress.
(1) Plan It Out
The worst feeling in the world is when you have a night when you know that, no matter what, you’re not going to finish everything you’re supposed to. The second-worst feeling is when you know that it could have been prevented. One of the perks of ~bleeding green and white~ is Schoology. It’s my favorite social media and should be yours too. At the beginning of each week, almost every teacher posts an outline of what’s to come—use it! If you see that on Thursday you have 30 pages of reading, 6 worksheets, 2 projects, and 3 tests the next week, it’s handy to know ahead of time and maybe get that reading and a project done on Tuesday when you have nothing else to do. There’s also nothing as satisfying as checking an item off a to-do list.
(2) Keep a Study Space
Life is all about the aesthetic—and you can quote me on that. Make yourself a space where you know that you’ll be comfortable and productive. Line up your pens, hang some pictures, get a nice pillow—anything that will make it a better space for you. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an organized desk, the middle of your kitchen, or a hobbit hole, as long as it’s conducive to studying. And make a point to actually use it! If you get in the habit of always doing your work and focusing in the same place every night, soon that place will be what focuses you. (I’m typing this from my bed right now, breaking one of my own rules. And you know what? It’s stressing me out. Further proof.)
(3) Put the Phone Away
This one is self-explanatory and you know it. As much as you love her (your phone, I mean), she will only distract you. Put her in a safe place far, far away. Don’t just say you will. Do it. And don’t get your phone to send “just one text” because 30 minutes later you’ll find yourself looking at a meme about iced tea and you’re going to have to pause and reevaluate your life.
(4) Get the Hardest Stuff Done First
If you are absolutely dreading that fat stack of math problems you have to do today, bang them out first. As the night goes on you’re only going to get tired and grumpy and the dread will worsen. Once you’re done, then the rest of your work won’t be as bad, because at least you’ve finished the big bad wolf.
This isn’t really about studying as it is about a state of mind. You’ll feel better with a lil’ water in you. In fact, if you haven’t had any in a while stop reading right now and go get yourself a glass. You’re welcome.
(6) Make a playlist
The right music makes everything better. Homework music is specific to each person but make a playlist of songs you find soothing, nothing that will distract you but instead keep you engaged. It might be hard to listen to while doing reading but it makes long worksheets or math problems that much more bearable. Spotify does a great job of giving study music recommendations, and personally I suggest Billie Eilish’s slow stuff or Barns Courtney. Others enjoy horror movie soundtracks to keep them engaged without distracting them with lyrics (including the person editing this article), and I even know some who play the background music of video games, so it’s really about your personal taste.
(7) Break Up Heavy Reading
To read and take notes on a chapter of a textbook is a daunting task. Instead of dealing with it, most of us just don’t read it and try to catch up in other ways. But it’s relatively easy to make it bearable: break it up. Instead of reading about cell function until your eyes bleed and you never want to hear the word “biology” again, read and take notes on the first section and stop. Go do your history reading. Come back and do the next section, then go finish that English essay. Take another section and then do that math worksheet. You get the gist.
(8) Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Break
When you have a thousand things to do and you’re completely overwhelmed it may feel like you have to power through until you’re done. But that approach may make the situation worse. If you’re more concerned about how much work you have and not what you’re actually doing, the quality of what you’re turning in will plummet and you’ll be so frenzied that it will take longer to complete. Instead, when you feel yourself spiraling, sit back for a moment. Get up, walk around a little, drink some water (see tip #5), and clear your head. You’re doing great and I’m proud of you. Now go finish your essay in a better state.
(9) Reward Yourself
If you’re a Pine Crest student, you’re working hard. We all know it, but now it’s time to internalize it. Congrats on making it this far. Really take a moment and revel in your accomplishments instead of concentrating on where you fall short. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, that’s natural, but now’s the time to celebrate your strengths. Treat yourself to a meme, a comment to a friend, a piece of chocolate. Most importantly, remind yourself of how well you’re doing. No matter how many times someone else tells you something, you’re not going to believe it until you tell yourself.
(10) Remember Why You’re Putting Yourself Through This
Maybe you’re a long-term thinker. You’re considering what college you want to get into, what career you’ll have, all the success in your future. Maybe you like to spotlight the smaller things. You’re going to get that average from a B to an A, earn a 5 on APs, just get through another day. No matter what it is, studying with a goal in mind makes the burden that much lighter. Don’t think of others’ expectations, really consider why you want to do well. When you feel like giving up, remember your objective. Because if you keep going, you’ll get there.
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons