Studying with a mental illness

For some studying comes easily, but serves as a struggle for others especially when battling a neurological disorder. Here are a few of my most effective studying tips, from me to you.

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others.

Everyone is different, therefore, everyone learns differently. Circumstances can greatly affect performance, so please don’t be too self-judgmental. Participating in clubs, working part or full-time, even daily tasks such as social interactions, waking up, or completing assignments can be draining for a student who is mentally ill. Understand that your struggle is as valid, and you are not a failure.

2. Get comfortable.

It seems easy enough, but trust me, it isn’t always. If you are a restless, anxious student like me, who has immense trouble focusing, and suffers from social anxiety then finding a comfortable position or area to study can be extremely overwhelming. Instead, find a quiet space you can use momentarily to calm yourself. This could be your car, taking a walk around your campus, or even a bathroom (we’ve all been there before) to gather your thoughts, and maybe the even courage to search for a spot that’s most conducive to your studying process.

3. Have a support system.

Support systems are a must, not just in college, but life in general. If possible, have at least 1-2 people you can vent to about anything (besides your therapist), whether it be academics, personal issues, or just needing someone to hang out with to release stress. Knowing you have someone cheering you on, regardless of your situation is always a good feeling and a great motivator.

4. Find an emotional outlet.

Music, personally, is the ultimate aphrodisiac for stress-relief, because it provides an almost euphoric sensation for me. Most of my issues tend to dissolve into the music, and allows for better concentration, especially if you become hyper-focused. However, anything that might allow you to re-center your focus and calm yourself is a great start. (It also provides small bursts of dopamine, which controls our emotional levels)

5. Sleep.

I cannot stress this enough, please rest. I know it may seem impossible at times because your workload is so strenuous, but sleep is a necessity to functioning at full potential. The test you’ve been studying for 3 consecutive weeks? Don’t cram your brain with information about it the night before, it’s more likely to do far more damage to your memory than you realize.

6. Understand your mental health status.

Sometimes we tend to underestimate the severity of a situation and overextend ourselves to the point of sickness. College is a place that can easily sweep you into a whirlwind of issues that continues to compile until you are drowned in them, without professional care mental health can quickly deteriorate, and cause significant problems that can impact your entire academic career and general lifestyle. Try visiting a professional therapist or psychiatrist on a weekly or monthly basis, if possible to keep a consistent record and your university’s disability center for additional resources in your courses. You can also utilize your university’s counseling center for assistance, services are usually free and they offer many affordable local resources as well.

7. Communicate with your professors.

This was my biggest downfall during freshman year, make sure to always communicate with your professors in order to build a relationship and understanding of your situation. Although college professors often have a reputation of being stoic and apathetic towards their student’s personal issues, there are many professors that are very understanding and will assist you in any way possible in order to succeed, not only within their class but throughout your post-secondary career.



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