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Topic: Eeep! When study is overwhelming! - Tips, ideas and coping strategies

  1. romantic_thi3f
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    15 August 2017
    Hi!

    Just thought I’d make a post with some tips for study. I know this is something we can all struggle with.

    These are all suggestions so feel free to take them or leave them! Hope they help!

    If you only remember one thing, let it be this:

    You are important. Your grades don’t define you.

    (support)

    Studying can feel isolating but know you’re not alone! Reach out – and find or make friends that can support you along the way.

    If you’re having trouble finding some friends, join some local communities or clubs! They have lots at Uni’s and even stuff like open days are great ways to meet new people and find out what’s happening.

    Study groups can also be a great way to meet people and stay motivated. Also remind yourself why you’re doing this; inspirational wallpapers or quotes can be super inspiring.

    Remember the saying about the oxygen mask? If you can’t take care of yourself first studying will be harder. You are important. You know the drill - water, food, exercise, sleep.

    Try to stay calm. Stuff that might be able to help include mindfulness, breathing exercises, colouring in, going for walks, journaling, listening to music…

    If you’re struggling – reach out. See a therapist. Talk to your student counsellor. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Also lots of Universities and TAFE offer disability services – which includes conditions like Depression and Anxiety.

    (study)

    Find the right study space for you. Maybe that’s in your room, or a coffee shop, or the library. Some people find that noise helps; other people not so much. If you like particular kinds of noise, you can find ‘coffee shop’ noise or ‘rain sounds’ to help concentrate.

    Make a plan. It helps to do it often so it becomes a habit. Anytime you get a due date, write it down. Maybe you could use a diary, planner, bullet journal or an app. I find the 30/30 App helpful - study for a bit and then break for a bit. You can also get add-on’s for your computer to block sites like Facebook if you find them too distracting.

    Find out what study technique works for you. Do you like cue cards? Mind maps? Colour coding? Does highlighting stuff help you remember? Charts, maps, diagrams? Recorded lectures?

    Goals! These are so important – not just writing down deadlines but rewarding yourself for meeting them. Even making smaller goals like ‘read two pages from a textbook’ can help. Break it down into bite size pieces, and don’t forget to reward yourself after!
    9 people found this helpful
  2. startingnew
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    15 August 2017 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    this is great! thanks

    if i think of anything else that you havent already meantioned ill write it down.

    it looks like youve covered everything though well done to you and your efforts!

    1 person found this helpful
  3. romantic_thi3f
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    17 August 2017 in reply to startingnew

    Hi startingnew,

    Wow thank you so much for your reply! I just looked at the post and it looks terrible with the formatting haha

    I really appreciate you saying that; I had a lot of anxiety about this post so just hearing that it was helpful to one person has made my day!

  4. startingnew
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    21 August 2017 in reply to romantic_thi3f
    oh yes these tips really are awesome. I dont see a problem with your formatting either. You write quite well and seem to be organised with your studies and work as well.
    Well done to you!
    Can I ask what are you studying if your still studying?
  5. MsPurple
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    21 August 2017 in reply to romantic_thi3f
    I agree with all of what you said :) I joined disability services while I was at uni and I found it good to have uni by my side. I didn't end up using a lot of the services available but it was good to know that they could help me. I also found it studying as part of a group helped me too
  6. romantic_thi3f
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    22 August 2017 in reply to startingnew

    Hi!

    starting new - Wow thank you! I really appreciate that :) I've been studying for a while now so it's all stuff I've had to learn the hard way! I just thought well if I post it and if it helps one person then I've done a good job! I'm studying counselling :)

    MsPurple - that's awesome that disability services were helpful! I think more people should know about them because they don't generally advertise that they help for mental illness :) Initially I thought they were only for physical disabilities.

  7. james1
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    22 August 2017 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hello,

    I love those tips. I always used to plan for breaks. Those were always the best plans because while I struggled to stick to my study plans, I was pretty good at sticking to my break plans, haha.

    One other thing that really made a world of difference for me was to always remember why I was even studying in the first place. Some people studied for marks to get dean's list, while others studied to get passes to get a piece of paper.

    For me, I studied to learn and the more I reminded myself of this, the less stressed I got when I didn't get a HD or when I got less marks than I wanted, because ultimately it didn't matter. What mattered was that I was learning, not that I could memorise formulas or whatever it was.

    Knowing my reason for studying and reminding myself of that also meant I was more driven to do it!

    James

  8. MsPurple
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    22 August 2017 in reply to james1

    James I couldn't agree more with you. When I was studying my bachelor degree I was super stressed because I wanted to get into a masters degree (couldn't get into the field I wanted to without it). I then got into my masters and just wanted to learn. I enjoyed that aspect of learning more as I could actually enjoy learning and appreciate the content.

    Romantic I thought it as only for physical disabilities too. In my masters degree I had a full anxiety breakdown. I was probably the most unwell I had been for years. I ended up opening up to one of my supervervisors who was nothing but supportive. She was the one who encouraged me to sign up with disability services. I know talk yearly to students about disability services and encourage them to get help

    1 person found this helpful
  9. startingnew
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    23 August 2017 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Oh that sounds really good. I hope your enjoying it :)

    And i think your helping more than one person :)

    james thats a really good point! I agree with you on that one too

  10. romantic_thi3f
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    23 August 2017 in reply to james1

    Hi!

    James - I'm so glad you like them! Break plans are not surprisingly easier to stick to! ;) How did you go about planning your study?

    I love that tip about remembering the 'why'. This is so important. I actually changed my course not long ago and found that it's made a huge difference in how motivated and interested I am to study.

    MsPurple - Thank you! I think it's wonderful that you're spreading about the world about disability services! More people need to hear about them :) People can feel so alone when they're struggling.

    Startingnew - Thank you! I really really appreciate it :)

    1 person found this helpful
  11. MsPurple
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    24 August 2017 in reply to romantic_thi3f
    When I am trying to study (or catch up on my career development points) I struggle to avoid procrastination. I do it so often. I struggle to work without music or something but at the same time that also makes it worse.
    1 person found this helpful
  12. romantic_thi3f
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    25 August 2017 in reply to MsPurple

    Hi MsPurple,

    Ah! I think that's a trap we all fall into! What music do you listen to?

    There's a few things that I said in my post like using a diary and an app. I run out of space in the post but I use the diary not just for when things are due but I lately I've also been writing down when I actually do things. It kinda feels like a mini goal just knowing 'hey I worked on that today'.

    Another thing that might help is just saying alright - I'll do this for 10 minutes and then I'll go and have a cookie. So then even if it's a baby step it's still a step, and cookie! I read a book last year called the 1 minute habit and it was literally do things for just 1 minute everyday - the more that you can build that up the easier it can get to stick to!

    Hopefully this can help a little!

  13. james1
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    25 August 2017 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hello romantic_thief,

    Nice to hear you changed your subject and are enjoying it a lot more now.

    I used to go at a 10% kind of rule (like your 10 minutes and a cookie!). I almost never planned to do x assignment on any given day because my brain didn't like that, but I was pretty diligent in getting things done by their deadlines.

    That said, I did find that I ended up putting more time on things I enjoyed and was interested in, so my marks probably did get skewed that way, but I wasn't ever too concerned by my marks.

    I think being relaxed but focussed meant that when I did study, I took it in and I could still get decent marks despite not having as much practice as someone else. Which I was okay with, since it meant I could get involved in lots of volunteer stuff which I found more useful.

    James

  14. birdleirdle
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    28 August 2017

    Not so much of a study tip but one to deal with stress: I'm only in year 11 and absolutely terrible at schedules but if I'm feeling entirely overwhelmed, I find taking 1-1.5 hours out (generally in the morning or evening, when it's cooler and the light is really pretty) to go for a solitary walk or cycle somewhere quiet. I also usually bring along a camera so I can stop to take photos every now and then.

    I find it's a bit easier to rethink and break down what I'm doing after a bit of a wander to collect my thoughts - although it's easy to end up using this to procrastinate if I do it too much.

    As for study tips: If you know what you're doing for something but get too anxious to write it down, I sometimes write my initial notes out in an incredibly silly voice. Find humour in it, and structure the them like you're saying them out loud before redoing them later in a more practical form.

    Hope those help a bit!

  15. romantic_thi3f
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    1 September 2017 in reply to birdleirdle

    Hi!

    James1 - I'm really glad you found something that works for you! I definately agree that once you're interested in something things tend to be a lot easier, and I like how you pointed out you weren't too concerned about the marks. This is something my older psychologist used to really emphasise - just pass. I think many people (maybe not yourself but others) fall into the trap of wanting to get the best grades. It's okay to just pass.

    birdleirdle - I love your tip about going outside for a walk or cycle! I love photography and that sounds incredibly relaxing :) Maybe you could give me some tips! I always get stuck in knowing what to take photos of when I see the same thing all the time.

    Made me giggle imagining everything in a silly voice! I've never heard of that one and thank you for sharing! I also love your username!

  16. Cesca1557
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    4 September 2017 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    These tips are great thanks!

    I definitely find that writing down everything I have to do and making lists helps me! So i know exactly what I need to do, and its so satisfying slowly crossing everything off
    Exercise is also a big thing, gives you a bit of a break and is a great stress relief
    I also like everything to be quiet so that I read my notes over aloud and think clearly (often i play a fan noise for a bit of background noise though so its not too quiet)

  17. romantic_thi3f
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    5 September 2017 in reply to Cesca1557

    Hi Cesca1557,

    Thanks for your post! I'm so glad you found the tips helpful! Sounds like you've got a few strategies down pat!

    What do you use for your lists? I'm curious - I've heard of apps, scribbling them down, bullet journals etc - but it's always great to see everyone's own method!

    I've never heard of using fan noise! What do you do in the winter then - brrr :)

  18. Cesca1557
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    5 September 2017 in reply to romantic_thi3f
    I usually use a little notepad because i like physically writing things down but sometimes if im not at home and i think of things i need to do ill write them down in the reminders app on my phone (the one that just comes with the phone)
    Some times i just suck it up and deal with the cold haha, but usually i play a fan white noise 'song' on spotify, i have a playlist made up with the song on repeat.
    1 person found this helpful
  19. sleepy fish
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    11 September 2017 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hi! Thank you for your tips, I like them.

    As an international student myself, I found studying overseas is even more stressful. Not only because the cultural differences that make hard to talk deep with other local students, but also loneliness and the language difficulty that takes me more time to read and learn. Also, other life stress like financial problems, they all wear me out from time to time.

    When I feel stress, I will turn to a friend or someone trustful to talk and speak out the stress. I feel like a Hi-q friendship/conversation will address a lot of the temporary stress. I also like to walk along the beach and blank my mind if I don't feel like talking. Sometimes I will see any films that would make me cry, crying is an 'activity' that would help reduce the pressure.

    I also believe we don't have to be motivated all the time for that's gonna be so tired. I think we can 'waste our time' several times, rather than feeling guilty about it, accept it and feel your feelings will be a better way to actually get rid of the stress/anxiety/depression and better manage it.

  20. startingnew
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    2 February 2018

    Hi Everyone, im interested in studying this year but online so no social pressures etc. one main thing i find i need to be doing to cope is by being productive, so am looking into options and studying is one of them.

    im wondering what others experiences are when studying with MH issues? did you find it helpful to study as a coping mechanism? or was it too much to handle?

    When studying with MH what did you find to be helpful in managing your time between studying, appointments and other life activities e.g schedule?

    im not judging at all so please dont be afraid to comment, i wouldnt be asking for both good and bad experiences if i didnt want both sides to a story. all advice is welcome!

  21. quirkywords
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    2 February 2018 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hi romantic,

    When I was at Uni in the late 1970s, I was unmedicated and had wild mood swings. It made study so hard. It took me over 5 years to do a 3 year degree and I changed courses many times. Back then there was no acknowledgement of MH issues.

    IN the late 1990s I did a post graduate teaching diploma externally and things had changed. There was a learning centre I could ring up and get advice on how to cope with work, children, household chores, study and my health.

    It was nice not have to cope alone.

    I think planning ahead and organisation of time is important. As an external student I often had 4 assignments due in one week.

    I think knowing what your strengths are and seeking help for your weakness. I had lots of ides but I was not good at organising thoughts into a paragraph as my paragraphs could go for pages.

    I also think having boundaries and realising ahead of time if your health is slipping before it gets too far.

    Quirky

    1 person found this helpful
  22. startingnew
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    2 February 2018 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi Quirky

    Do you mind me asking how you were organising your time with all your commitments? thats is something i struggle with alot between being a carer, doing a small secondary job, babysitting siblings, pops appointments and my own appointments it can be really hard. so i need to work out what a good way to organise my time. i often only study an hr at a time so can split the times up and the course i want to do doesnt say how many hrs of study are expected/reccomended until i enrol (its online)

    when going through school i had a really good way of writing paragraphs and still remember it now. once i learnt that it really helped- not sure if you would be familiar with it.. its called Point, Evidence, Explanation, Link (PEEL). kept me right on track.

    when you say boundaries?- can you please explain what you mean by that?

  23. Teenageanxietyguy
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    7 February 2018
    Bless you
  24. Chloe_M
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    7 April 2018 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hey guys,

    I have a couple of tips that help with writing essays (during the exam, like the HSC).

    • Use bright coloured post-its- put these around the house, on the fridge, on the back of the toilet door, etc. Write main arguments and good phrases on them.
    • Record your voice reading draft paragraphs and then play it back and listen to yourself reading it.
    • Practice writing essays at home within a time frame; it will get the words you need to write into muscle memory and writing it under pressure in the actual exam will be easier.

    Thanks for all the other tips- and don't forget to relax, have a balanced lifestyle- too much studying can't be good for your mental state!

    Chloe_M

  25. startingnew
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    5 May 2018 in reply to startingnew
    hi all just bumping this thread up
  26. Doolhof
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    5 May 2018 in reply to Chloe_M

    Hi Everyone,

    Startingnew has just directed me here as I am struggling with the online study I am having to do as a requirement from my Employment lady. I am turning myself into a nervous wreck with my study, it is increasing my anxiety levels depression and my anger management skills have gone out the window!

    Some of my issues include struggling to use a computer at the best of times, not being able to phone contact the course people when I need advice, not understanding their online help service options, forgetting how to open a new tab to do the research required without loosing the work I am currently doing and having to start all over again and so on.

    Plus never knowing how long a section will take to complete as it recommends a certain amount of time, I complete that module than another pops up and says I need to complete that by a certain time limit. I am struggling to allocate time for study when I never know if it will take me 40 hours a week or only 20 hours.

    Ah! Just having a vent. I'm not enjoying this at all. I need to get my frustration, anxiety, depression levels and anger under control before I go bang! Plus my husband is expecting lunch!

    Cheers all from Dools ( I will read through more of this thread later)

    1 person found this helpful
  27. Mimilovesyou
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    22 May 2018 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hey guys, there's really good website that can boost your productivity when studying I highly recommend it as it helped me get through my own procrastinating habits. Definitely check it out if you are the type that either enjoys fire crackling noises, rain sounds or a coffee shop atmosphere: https://www.noisli.com/

    3 people found this helpful
  28. adm
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    4 June 2018
    Hi everyone,
    Just a quick note to let you know it can be done!
    I am a more mature person but last year I completed a degree.
    It took me 9 years!

    Yes, I suffered from depression during the course.
    If you look at my academic record you will see depression printed in bold type.
    High Distinction, Credit, Distinction, Failed Did Not Participate, Failed Did Not Sit, Credit, D, HD, FNP, FNS...
    Basically when depression was bad I wound back what I did and concentrated on earning, when I felt OK I studied and did well. It was hard, it cost far more than it should, but I completed it.

    Study method? Well I procrastinate a lot. Depression compounds that. So I use the Pomodoro method.
    This method uses a timer. You set a timer for 25 minutes and give all your attention to the study task for that time. No interruptions. No excuses. No distractions. Only the task. At the end of the 25 minutes you stop studying and reward yourself. 25 minutes, firm. No more studying. Just the reward. For 5 or 10 minutes. Timed. repeat as needed.

    Good luck with your studies. I hope my story of (slow but steady) success helps others achieve their goal despite depression.

    DM
    2 people found this helpful
  29. Doolhof
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    4 June 2018 in reply to adm

    Hi DM,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Congratulations on your achievements! With you depression, were you able to recall the information you were reading? Do you recall most of what you have learnt?

    I have trouble getting information to stick in my brain! I read it and it seems like I have immediately forgotten it even if I make notes and read them a few times over.

    Hi Mimilovesyou, I will check out the information you shared with us, thanks. I usually prefer silence when I am studying. Any noise seems to really distract me.

    Cheers all from Dools

  30. MsPurple
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    4 June 2018 in reply to Doolhof

    DM thanks for sharing your story. Those are some really good hints. I struggled with concentration when I was at uni. I still sometimes struggle with concentration. Of late anyways. I'm ok at work but when I'm home my brain is off.

    I found like Dools I struggled to retain information. I found it was because I wasn't sleeping well. I found mindfullness before going to bed.

    I think if you have the right support you can finish school/uni.

    1 person found this helpful