By: Meghan Byrne | Writer
September 14, 2017
Many students find the transition from the stress-free lifestyle of summer to the hectic daily pressures of school daunting. The serenity of summer gives way to chaos, as we all struggle to balance schoolwork, social lives, sports, jobs, and other extracurricular activities. This mayhem can make it difficult to handle stress.
“Because of the stress from school and extracurricular activities, I had bronchitis sophomore year for three months straight,” criticizes Sarah Mahl, a senior IB candidate. Along with her rigorous course load which includes IB/AP Environmental Science and IB/AP Calculus, Sarah is also the president of the Cultural Cooking Club and has a part-time job at Juice It Up. She says that the pressure to do well in school while juggling the other aspects of her life make her feel overwhelmed. This complaint is common among the student body at SCHS, particularly with AP students and IB candidates.
So what can stressed students do to help alleviate their anxieties this year? Here are eight tips successful students have accumulated over the years to help you study smarter, not harder.
- Hydrate before you sit down to study or do homework and keep water with you as you work. When you’re dehydrated, you tend to feel more tired. As a result, focusing on the task at hand or retaining new information can be more difficult. If you don’t like drinking water, try making it more bearable by putting cucumber slices or lemon slices in your water to make it taste better.
- Lots of small study sessions are more effective than a few large ones. The Spacing Effect is a psychological principle that says if you space out your study sessions, you are more likely to retain the information with less effort. So instead of cramming all your notes into one three-hour session, work on them in increments of 30 to 45 minutes.
- Give yourself breaks after short periods of studying. If you have a lot to do in a short span of time, it’s important to reward yourself. Study for about 30 to 45 minutes, then take a 10-minute break. This will help you avoid feeling burnt out. Just be careful- it’s really easy for that 10-minute break to turn into a 30-minute break if you’re not watching the time!
- If you’re going to listen to music while you work, opt for instrumental music. It is said that classical music is the best type of music to listen to while studying because it has a calming effect on the brain, but if that’s not your style, you should still try to steer clear of anything with lyrics. Let’s be honest: lyrics are distracting, especially when you’re trying to read.
- Stay organized. Keeping a planner is a great way to manage assignments that aren’t due for a while, but even a simple to-do list helps turn your homework into a set of manageable goals (and it feels so good every time you cross something off your list).
- Instead of rereading the textbook or reviewing your notes, quiz yourself. In psychology, the Testing Effect says that if you quiz yourself on information that you’re trying to learn, you’re more likely to retain that information. Answering questions about a topic requires you to retrieve the information from your memory, helping you figure out what material you aren’t exactly familiar with.
- If you’re struggling to stay on task, go to the library. Putting yourself in an atmosphere where those around you are quiet and focused will help you set aside distractions and make a serious dent in that mountain of homework you’ve been worrying about. You’ll finally be able to tune out all the things that have been keeping you from achieving your set goals.
- Don’t procrastinate. This seems like an obvious one, but we’re all guilty of putting off a project until the last few days before the deadline or skimming the assigned reading the morning of the quiz. In the long run, you’ll feel better if you start now, and you’ll have time to do what you want later.
“When it gets too stressful, sometimes I just need to take a second and look at everything I’ve done so far and how beneficial it is,” discusses junior Jackie Arredondo, who always tries to keep a positive mentality in order to keep her daily tasks manageable.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenges of the new school year, but if you make the most of your study time and get organized, you can make this year your best yet!