Getting back into the swing of study can feel unnatural at the best of times. With so many things to juggle like assignments and work, concentrating on the task at hand can be difficult and exhausting. When it comes to managing things that stress us out, many of us would prefer not think about it and take every day as they come, because after all, that’s easier… right?
When it comes to managing stress for better concentration, it’s good to look at the source of your stress and talk to yourself about how you can minimise it. Reducing stress—both in your mind and body—is proven to improve your concentration, focus, memory, greater creativity, and even how you sleep. With these four tips, managing stress is just a technique away from heading down the right path.
Tip One: If you’ve got time to scroll, stop and go to sleep earlier.
Have you ever stayed up late, trying to smash through an assignment or Netflix series? Chances are, you woke up the next day feeling hazy—and that’s a totally normal symptom of lack of sleep. The average person needs seven-to-eight hours of sleep to function properly and to make way for those sweet things science likes to call Cleaning Cycles. Cleaning Cycles happen when your brain powers down and has ample time to clean itself and its systems, refreshing both your body and mind. There’s a great Ted-Ed video (a vertical of Ted Talks) on how sleep works, alongside a two-minute Vox video that can teach you how to sleep better. When you don’t hit those sleep cycles, lack of sleep accumulates into sleep debts and causes tiredness, exhaustion and memory loss. So even though you might think staying up past midnight to cram will help you, the next day you will be too exhausted to remember it. So as a rule of thumb: if you’ve got time to scroll before bed, try switching off earlier.
Tip Two: Learn to say no and look after your health.
It’s hard to say no when you’ve been raised to be a yes person, and thinking you are a bad person for saying no is something that takes a lot of active effort to unlearn. Often referred to as “the disease to please,” saying yes all the time simply causes burnout if you’re going above and beyond what your body can handle. Not only are you using your energy that could be spent elsewhere, but you’re doing things for others that doesn’t help you or your relationship in the long-term. If you’re a student juggling work, study and industry experience, it’s okay to admit to yourself and others that you’re running low on time. While strategies for saying no may help you in the short-term, it’s important to focus on the tasks at hand that will affect your life and its stressors long-term. Learning to prioritise—even when everything feels important—is a key skill that will help you make the best of your time and allow you to minimise stress through time management. A good habit is to start using a calendar and block out the time you dedicate to work, study and to yourself.
Tip Three: Exercise. And we don’t mean getting a gym membership on a whim.
While it can be tempting to sign-up for a gym in hopes that you will suddenly become a #gymselfie kind of person, making healthy changes in your life doesn’t need to cost you. Firstly, it’s good to acknowledge the physical benefits of exercise, where improving your condition can help your body fight off diseases. Secondly, exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, where getting active can help reduce fatigue, improve alertness and concentration, and enhance overall cognitive function. In short, taking the stairs, walking to uni from the station, or waking up 15mins earlier to stretch can help you greatly when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate. Since stress affects the brain, the rest of the body feels the impact as well, so exercising your body makes those circuits light up the right ways.
Tip Four: Look into meditation and take a five-minute breather.
One of the cool things about meditation is that anyone can practice it. Considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine, meditation is known for its ability to produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. Eliminating stress by focusing your thoughts elsewhere, meditation promotes emotional and physical well-being from the inside out. This is often induced by giving you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. While meditation can be a strange path to navigate alone at first, there’s a heap of apps available that helps the process go smoothly and to connect you with the results you need. Downloading a meditation app can be the first step to dedicate time to simply breathe.