Stress can have two effects; a little can help a person to study but too much can stop them from studying.
If they aren’t studying but thinking that they should then they will exhaust themselves anyway without having accomplished anything. Then when they do try to study they are already exhausted from thinking about it and can’t study.
The trick is to have time EVERYDAY when they are NOT studying AND NOT thinking that they should be studying.
To help a friend who is experiencing this you can do the following:
- Study together and actually study (but have a ten minute break every hour – go outside or do something else, don’t stay at the desk – put yourself in a new environment for ten minutes)
- Help them find their optimum study time – that is how long before they start getting distracted, bored or mind wandering to other things. For some people this is 40 minutes, others it may be 60 minutes. Help them recognise this time and use it as way of managing their study in these intervals of time – it will make them more productive
- Ask how they study? If they spend all their time studying the same topic this is not effective. They will become less effective the longer they spend on a topic. Encourage them to build a study plan which includes different topics and areas within a block of time – the change refocuses their interest and motivation
- Let them know that study is not just about sitting at a desk!!! Taking a break and going for walk can often help people think through all of the information they have acquired
- Do something together that is not study and don’t talk about study or think about it – so maybe an activity that makes it difficult to think about studying is a good thing to try (sport, meeting friends, movie etc).
Tell your friend how important it is to have real downtime from study – time where you don’t think about it. This allows your mind to relax and then it can come back to study more effectively because it has had a break.
If your friend is still struggling even after trying these tips then they might like to consider getting further help (e.g. counsellors etc)