Effective ways to protect your mental health while studying

woman wearing headphones and studyingStudying can be both an exciting time and one that is full of stress. It can increase your knowledge and further your skills, but it can also pose a significant challenge.

That’s why protecting your mental health while you’re studying is so important. 

Whether you are cramming for an exam or your course requires long-term study until you graduate, balancing your education and wellbeing can be a challenge. In this article, we will be sharing how you can protect your mental health while studying so those stress levels are kept to a minimum and you can enjoy a healthy work/life balance. 

1. Create a study schedule 

The first step in any healthy study regime is to create a study schedule and stick to it. Having a set routine that you stick to can go a long way toward protecting your mental health. That’s why, when it comes to studying, having a routine in the form of a study schedule is extremely useful. 

Planning when and where you study each day can help maximise your chances of success. We recommend breaking down your studying into time-bound chunks. This will allow you to study, uninterrupted, for 15-20 minutes before taking a five minute break. It’s a great way to schedule your time and keep your concentration levels high so that you can study as effectively as possible and use stress to your advantage.  

2. Take time to relax 

Studying can be a time of significant stress. Whether you’re worried about exams, nervous about forgetting what you’ve learnt, or scared you won’t graduate, it’s easy to spend most of your time feeling stressed and worried about the future. 

According to David Nesenoff of Tikvah Lake Recovery, “Stress is detrimental to your mental health and your physical health. Chronic stress suppresses your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to diseases.” 

That’s why one of the best ways to protect your mental health while studying is to book time off. Taking time off to relax is just as important as cramming your head full of knowledge. If your body doesn’t have the time it needs to relax and unwind, all the effort you put into studying could go to waste. So, be sure to take time out of your week to relax, binge Netflix, meditate, go for a walk, or enjoy a bubble bath. 

3. Take regular study breaks 

While we’re talking about taking breaks, we should mention the importance of taking regular study breaks. Not everyone can study non-stop all day long. In fact, research into the human attention span shows that this isn’t the most effective way to study as our brains can only concentrate properly for a limited amount of time (for most of us, this is under an hour).

Therefore, the best way to combat this is to take regular study breaks. Taking a 5 minute break every hour, for example, can help boost your concentration and reduce stress. Just be sure that when you do take a break, you step away from your screen. You could go for a walk, do some stretching, or pop to the kitchen for a cup of tea. 

Online Schools summarised this well when they stated: “Many studies have found that pausing for a moment to relax and reboot is essential for achieving productivity, success, and a positive outlook on the future. This is especially true for students who spend hours huddled in front of a computer. While many believe cram sessions and all-night study groups will ultimately help them earn their college degree, the fact is that not taking regular breaks can lead to a significant decrease in academic performance and, in some cases, serious health concerns like anxiety, insomnia, and depression.” 

4. Prioritise a good night’s sleep 

Many students forgo the need for a good night’s sleep, preferring to stay up until the early hours with friends or simply trying to cram in a last-minute study session. Whatever the reason, this lack of sleep could be doing more harm than good. 

According to the Sleep Foundation, “Without enough sleep, children and teens can have problems with attention, memory, and problem-solving. Sleep deprivation can also contribute to emotional issues and behaviour problems that may affect academic achievement.” 

Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, if possible, in order to give yourself the best chance of academic success. If you struggle with sleep, try opening your windows, avoiding screens before bed, getting into a routine, and using blackout blinds. Sometimes, getting a good night’s sleep involves a bit of trial and error until you find what works for you. 

5. Keep active by getting outdoors 

Regular exercise is essential to protect your mental health while studying. Exercise is a great stress reliever and can drastically improve your concentration and sleep quality (to name a few of the benefits). 

We recommend prioritising outdoor activities such as running, cycling, walking, and swimming as the more fresh air you can get, the better. Just 20 minutes of exercise per day can have a significant impact on your concentration levels, emotional wellbeing, physical health, and sleep quality. 

Final words 

When you are studying there are many things that can cause you to feel stressed or anxious. Getting through your studies can be a challenge, so it’s no wonder mental health can be affected. 

We hope that, with the tips we’ve shared in this article, you can protect your mental health effectively and enjoy a happy and healthy work/life balance. 

About the author

Gemma WilliamsGemma Williams is an independent HR professional working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Gemma has gained experience in several HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts in career development and employee engagement. Connect with her on Twitter: @GemmaWilliamsHR

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