Hope all is going well and you’re all having a much-deserved Easter Break!
A lot of you will be feeling drained and a bit burned out; I’ll admit I was often the same during my school, college, and university days. The problem is when we feel like this it’s hard to stay positive about our learning and schoolwork, which sadly means it’s going to suffer!
So today I wanted to talk to you about a vital little positive psychology study hack I developed to keep the energy levels up, which ultimately allowed me to keep fuelling positive and productive study sessions!
One thing that I always laugh at is when students say “Right I’m going to boss out an entire day in the library. I’m going to do 8 hours straight.”
This is what usually happens:
Hour 1- Great hour of studying.
Hour 2- Bit of flagging and restlessness. Still around 35 mins of productive study.
Hour 3- Hand Wandering Towards Phone Every 5 minutes. Around 15 mins of productive study.
Hour 4- Scrolling Relentlessly on Social Media. About 5 mins of productive study.
Ho….. PROMPTLY LEAVES LIBRARY FOR THE DAY
Unfortunately the truth is that the human brain wasn’t made to work endlessly for 8 hours straight. The brain is actually much better at sprints rather than marathons.
Just think about it, when you are studying it’s never a leisurely read or attempt at an equation- your brain never jogs lightly. When studying you are sprinting, your brain is popping off 100mph when trying to solve a problem or understand a concept.
And just like your legs, your brain can only do so much sprinting. You need adequate rest before taking the next sprint. But students rarely consider this.
There are a lot of studies out there focusing on productivity but a popular finding is that the mot productive people work for 52minutes and then have a 17minute break.
In this break however, people should try to avoid mindless social media scrolling! The reason for this is that we’ll often see pictures of our friends having fun, which will make us feel negative about being stuck in a musty library all day! People will also share a lot of the negative news that makes up the bulk of what the media feed to us- murder, disaster, and corruption etc. A recent study found just 3 minutes of negative mainstream news can lead us to being 27% more likely to report our day as being a bad one!
So in my third year at university I made a real conscious effort to incorporate as many short breaks as possible and to use them by doing things that would raise my positivity. Again as ever, I’ll reiterate that if you’re going to be more productive, creative, energetic and intelligent if in a positive state of mind rather than a negative, stressed, or even neutral state!
What I will say at this point is that everyone is different in terms of their ‘working stamina’- my perfect ratio was 1 hour of work followed by a 15 minute break. Some prefer much shorter bursts e.g. 30 mins work, followed by a 3 minute work. So do what works best for you! :)
Here are some of the things I would do that acted as my positivity pumpers to fuel further productive study:
1. Watch funny videos: Get on Youtube and just watch a couple of clips you find funny! Personally I’m a
sucker for funny monkey videos- this one is a real gem.
2. Look at old pictures: Don’t go on Facebook! But just relive some funny moments and times personal to you by scrolling through the pics on your phone.
3. Read some jokes: I’ve got a terrible sense of humour and I love terrible ‘Christmas cracker’ style jokes. Here’s a personal favourite. “Police arrested two kids yesterday, one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one - and let the other off.” Absolutely woeful I know! But it makes me chuckle and that’s all I’m after.
4. Take a Walk: A bit of fresh air and getting the blood pumping works an absolute treat for someone like me who gets really fidgety. A little bit of exercise goes a long way; it’ll release a lot of your tension and stop you feeling uncomfortable during further study stints.
5. Talk to a Friend: A good old chinwag with the bessie instantly energises you! Social support is often found to be the key to our happiness and well-being, so make sure you spread feel-goods with each other. Just make sure you don’t talk about studying and revision!
There are countless others out there and that’s part of the fun! Some of you might prefer to have a dance, meditate/daydream, play an instrument, or play a quick game of something. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it is something you know will fill you with positive emotions!
So the next time you’ve got a long sesh to slog out, just remember studying is a process of sprints! Even when ‘on a roll’ you’ve got to be conscious about taking breaks, otherwise you will very quickly crash and burn. But with enough positivity pumpers you’ll have enough rocket fuel to take you to the moon and back!