Student tips: how to stay happy and calm while studying

Written by Brittany Elliott | 26 January, 2021

It’s no secret. Studying is often accompanied by stress – but how can we manage it to ensure we remain happy and calm throughout the semester?

It’s very easy to get stressed and overwhelmed during your studies, especially when those assignments start to pile up or exam season is fast approaching! However, I have a few tricks up my sleeve that will help you remain calm, happy and focussed throughout the year.

1. Stay organised and schedule time off

I know that ‘staying organised’ is easier said than done but it truly is the key to avoiding that ‘overwhelmed’ feeling. Here are a couple of simple ways to get (and stay) organised:

  • At the beginning of each semester make sure you have put all your assignment deadlines into your calendar
  • As assignments approach, discuss with your tutor how long the assignment should take you to complete and make sure you allocate yourself enough time to complete the tasks to your best ability
  • When planning your day and week, make sure you schedule time away from work to do things you love

2. Spend time in nature

As natural health students, we are all attracted to nature in some way. I find that spending time in nature brings me back down to earth when my head might otherwise be in the clouds. When you are on campus, try to go outside between classes to breathe in the fresh air and feel the sun on your skin. If you are studying from home, you could break up your study blocks by going outside for a walk or enjoy your lunch in your backyard.

3. Make time to exercise

Regular exercise has long been considered to be beneficial in relieving stress. However, when we are stressed, sometimes the last thing we want to do is exercise. Scheduling time to exercise and creating a habit of it is the best way to ensure regular physical activity. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep patterns (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2008) and studies have been completed on rats that indicate that exercise mimics the effects of antidepressants on the brain! (Chen et al., 2016) There is a lot more research to be done in this area, but one thing is certain: you won’t regret moving your body.

4. Ensure you get adequate sleep

Sleep health is directly correlated to our overall happiness. Research shows that when we are sleep deprived, we are more likely to experience mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression (Neckelmann et al., 2008) The best way to ensure you get enough sleep is to create a routine and stick with it. Once your body is in a routine, you will begin to feel tired and wake-up at roughly the same time every day. Everyone has a different amount of sleep that works optimally for them, however for most adults this optimal time is between seven to nine hours per night (The National Sleep Foundation, 2020).

Related blog post: How to improve your sleep.

5. Practice mindfulness daily

Mindfulness is when you bring your awareness to the present moment and it is proven to have a positive impact on mental health (Keng, et al., 2011). You can practice mindfulness in many ways but some of the easiest ways to do so are to:

  • Focus on your breathing. Count one when inhaling and two when exhaling. Do this for five to 10 minutes and try not to allow your mind to wander. Acknowledge in your mind how the breath feels travelling through you. Is it deep? Is it quick? Is it slow? Is it warm? Is it cold? Allow yourself to really be present with your breath.
  • Practice the sultana exercise, find out how to do so here

6. Do things you love with the people you love!

It’s easy to feel like you haven’t got time to do anything but study, especially towards the end of the semester. Therefore, it’s important you make time to do the things you love and see the people you love. Doing these things that are completely unrelated to your studies will allow your mind to have a break and will encourage you to feel happier overall.

Studying is going to cause you stress. However, if you utilise these student tips to manage these feelings, you will find that you are a much happier, calmer and more successful student. Life is going to throw you curve balls and you can’t avoid stress in its entirety. It’s more important to arm yourself with the tools to respond to these feelings, rather than avoid the stress in the first place.

References:

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2008) Moderate Exercise Can Improve Sleep Quality of Insomnia Patients. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611071129.htm

Chen, C., Nakagawa, S., Kitaichi, Y., An, Y., Omiya, Y., Song, N., Koga, M., Kato, A., Inoue, T., & Kusumi, I. (2016). The role of medial prefrontal corticosterone and dopamine in the antidepressant-like effect of exercise. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 69, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.03.008

Neckelmann, D et al., (2007) Chronic Insomnia as a Risk Factorfor Anxiety and Depression. Sleep. 43(11). https://academic.oup.com/sleep?pid=26880

The National Sleep Foundation (2015) National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times#:~:text=Younger%20adults%20(18%2D25)%3A,8%20hours%20(new%20age%20category)

Recovery Hub (2020). Mindful Eating of a Sultana Exercise. https://www.recovery.awh.org.au/self-help/mindfulness/mindful-eating-exercise


Brittany Elliott

Brittany is a 2nd-year student at Endeavour, studying a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) who is passionate about all thing’s health and wellness.

Brittany has a blog called The Nutritious Naturopath, where she shares content and recipes focussed on inspiring others to become their happiest and healthiest selves.

Read more by Brittany Elliott

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