A certain amount of stress is an inevitable and useful part of studying. It assists students to work harder, be focused and return to study rather than doing other things. However, if students are too stressed, they cannot study effectively. It is important to distinguish between stress that assists you to study and stress that prevents you from studying effectively. You can then reduce the latter type of stress.
Stress can be represented along a scale between 0 and 10. Between 1 and 4 students could be described as having so little stress that they do not study. Normal study is done in the 4-8 stress zone. In this zone the harder you work the better you do. Between 8 and 10 you are too stressed to study effectively. There are many signs to help you recognize that you are heading into this danger zone:
the more you try or worry the less you can study effectively
your mind is racing everywhere
you try to relax but all you can think about is study
when you try to study you cannot.
This problem can be remedied by developing the right balance between study and not studying – up time and down time.
A balance between study and not studying
When we do physical work or sports it is very obvious that we need to shift between working and not working. If you try to work hard all day without stopping you would become so exhausted that you could not continue, however, if you pace yourself correctly you will get the maximum from yourself. It is the same with study.
If when you are not studying you are worrying or feeling guilty about not studying, from the point of view of your mind and emotions this is like trying to study all the time. This is very exhausting. It is like trying to do physical work all the time without pacing yourself. If on the other hand you spend the time you give to worry and guilt relaxing then you will be refreshed and able to study more effectively.
Some students say that their stress is not between nine and ten because they have not studied for a long time and therefore a rest is not what they need. If asked “when you are not studying do you worry and feel guilty about study?” they often reply “Yes – all the time!”. These students tend not to want to study because rather than being refreshed they are exhausted by worry and guilt. All that time is wasted. On the other hand, you rest and relax, then you can return to study refreshed after time off and can have something to look forward to when you are studying. Rest is most efficient when it is worry and guilt free.
In terms of this way of thinking there are two total time wasters:
trying to study but not studying
having time off from study, but not relaxing because you are worrying.
Time is most effectively used if there is a rhythm between concentrated study and real relaxation. Relaxing can then be seen as a legitimate support for study.
Break the deadlock between wanting to study and doing other things
When students cannot study they often get caught between two conflicting goals (wants or needs), one of which would have them studying and the other would have them doing something other than studying. On the one hand they move towards studying because they really want to study or at least believe they should study. On the other hand they do not feel like studying or want to do some thing else. They become paralysed between these two conflicting activities and do neither properly or even worse, do neither at all. To get out of this bind you need to view both study and non study as legitimate and necessary.