Grad School Semester #1: Check!

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At the beginning of 2016 I made a page-long bucket list of things that I wanted to complete this year. And as of one week ago I can officially say that I checked off the last item on the list: completing my first semester of grad school.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on here (grad school homework + part-time job= no free time) so just to catch you up on what I’ve been up to for the past four months, I’ve been work work working away on my Master of Social Work degree. As someone who does not have a background in clinical work, there has definitely been a HUGE learning curve this semester, but I can honestly say that I worked hard and I feel like I learned A LOT that will be useful in my future career as a therapist.

One thing that really surprised me over this past semester is the fact that I have an interest in more than just one area of social work. Initially, I was completely against working in hospital social work; however, after an inspiring shadowing opportunity in a major Canadian hospital, I feel compelled to explore this as a possible area of social work that I might work in. While my primary goal is still to work in the area of mental health as a therapist, I feel a lot more open to exploring a wider range of social work settings before settling down into one role for the rest of my career.

Interestingly, I’ve also realized that I might not be as much of a suburbs and country-side person as I once thought I was. In fact, going to school in such a large city has completely changed my outlook for where my life will take me in 5-10 years. Before beginning this program I thought for sure that I would hate the big city but I’ve absolutely loved it. This was something that took me entirely by surprise as I was so sure that I would hate it. I guess that just goes to show how much people can change even in a short time!

With all of that being said, the biggest lesson that I’ve learned over the course of my first semester of grad school is that life changes so fast. Change is inevitable. I shouldn’t try to fight it and neither should you, my lovely readers! Change is terrifying and exhilarating and wonderful! As I am writing this I am preparing for a massive change tomorrow: I’m moving to the city that just four months ago terrified me. Looking back I can hardly believe how much I have grown and how much stronger I am for all of the challenges I’ve overcome. Change is a challenge, but change is necessary. How can you expect to grow if you never change?

xo

Ayla

 

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Grad School week one: success!!

apply_nowThe past week has been a whirlwind of excitement, anxiety, uncertainty, information overload, and incredible opportunities. Tomorrow marks the first day of official classes which means that I successfully managed to make it through the orientation and introductory conference days! Week one of grad school was a success!

One week ago I was full of anxiety and nerves. I was terrified of navigating the city and such a large campus and I was equally concerned that my panic attacks would get in the way of me being able to truly enjoy the experiences. While the first day was certainly a day fit for a few panic attacks, the rest of the week went relatively well which was great! Much better than expected!

Additionally, I managed to find two other women with similar interests and lifestyle habits who I instantly bonded with and spent the rest of the week with. Having someone to sit with, talk to, and eat lunch with made a world of difference for staving off my worries and anxiety. Plus, I had added the bonus of travel buddies to help me navigate public transit and get used to getting around the campus.

Overall, I am excited about this new chapter in my life and I am completely exhausted. I can officially say that I am pursuing a career in social work after years of thinking that my own struggles posed a barrier to my ability to achieve this dream. I finally feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. I am becoming a social working and I am going to dedicate my career to helping people who struggle with mental illness.

I can’t wait to develop my skills and gain the knowledge that I need to be an effective, empathetic, and supportive therapist. Here’s to making the most of an incredible opportunity!

Ayla

When a house doesn’t feel like a home

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How do you make a house feel like home?

I’ve been living in my current place for over a year now and try as I might, I just can’t make it feel like home. I’ve got my belongings here; I’ve tried redecorating numerous times; I’ve lived with a roommate and without. Nothing seems to make a difference.

I think part of me really just can’t get past the temporary nature of my living arrangement. While I technically have my own “apartment”, I live in a house with other people and there are a few common areas. The apartment is intended only for students which means that as soon as I finish grad school I will have to find somewhere else to live. Furthermore, because there are shared common areas in this house, it doesn’t feel like my “apartment” is truly a private space.

Similarly, in my previous living situation I had moved into a condominium with two other women who had been living there for three years. When their roommate moved out, I moved in, but because they had been living there for so long already, I felt like a guest in their space. In this case, I could understand why I felt this way, but it’s so frustrating to feel similar experiences in my current apartment as well.

Am I going to feel this way about every space that I rent? Will I never experience the feeling of “home” until I actually own my own house?

I feel as though I’m in a very transitional period of life in which I changed career paths, quit my previous job, and am going back to school in a new (and terrifyingly huge) city. Everything is changing and I don’t even feel as though I have the comfortable familiarity of home that I did growing up. So, I wonder, how do I make a house feel like a home? How do I make my space feel like my own personal haven rather than feeling like a storage bunker for my clothes and furniture?

Have any of you ever felt this way? What do you do to make your space feel like home? Will this feeling go away once I finish school and move into a more “permanent” space? Ideally I’ll be living here for the next two years, which is a long time, but just knowing that there is a predetermined end to my stay here makes it feel so temporary.

Any advice?

xo
Ayla

We all have those days: A how-to guide for getting out of a rut

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We’ve all had those days (or weeks…or months as the case may be). You know the ones I’m talking about. The days when it feels like everything is going wrong, life is a disaster, and the day seems lost from the start, so why even bother getting out of bed? Well, for those of you who really just don’t know how to get yourself out of the rut of bad days, here are some of the ways that I try to make my bad days just a little bit better.

Get out of bed.

Seriously. Pull back the covers, sit up, have a stretch, and GET OUT OF BED. How can you expect your day to get better if you just stay in bed wallowing for hours on end?

Treat yourself to a nice breakfast.

Food can improve your mood. When you wake up in the morning after 8+ hours of sleeping, your body needs food to start the day right. If you skip breakfast, your body will stay in starvation mode which can increase your anxiety.

On top of alleviating anxiety, eating breakfast can be a great opportunity to treat yourself to a nice home-cooked meal, or maybe if you’re feeling up to it you could even take yourself to your favorite cafe or breakfast restaurant! A nice yummy breakfast is bound to improve even a small portion of your day.

50-ways-to-take-a-break-printableGive yourself permission to take a break.

Sometimes you just really need to take a break. Burnout can happen when you forget to take care of yourself or take time for the things that you enjoy. Make sure that you’re giving yourself permission to take time for yourself each day to recharge.

Spend some time with friends.

Spending time with friends (whether its in person or via phone/skype) can be a great way to pull yourself out of a rut. It gives you an opportunity to talk through whatever might be dragging you down. Recognizing the problem and putting it into words can often be a great way to help yourself brainstorm ways to get through it and feel better.

Look at pictures of baby animals.

Seriously, I was skeptical about the actual effectiveness of this one initially; however, it is scientifically proven that looking at images of baby animals can improve your mood! And the effectiveness of this mood booster increases even more if you can spend time with a real animal such as a puppy or cat. Animal therapy is a real thing. How can you resist a face as cute as this?

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Go for a walk.

Fresh air can often work wonders on a negative state of mind, not to mention the scientifically-backed idea that exercise is a great way to improve mood and reduce anxiety, stress, and depression.

Take it ten seconds at a time.

For this point, I give full credit to the writers of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. In the TV show, Kimmy explains that when she is having a hard time, she focuses all of her energy on getting through the next ten seconds. This can help make the day seem more manageable and it can also act as proof that you are strong enough to get through whatever you are facing because you will get through those ten second intervals time and time again.

Think of the things you have to be grateful for.

In moments when it feels like everything is going wrong, I find it especially helpful to remind myself of the things that I am grateful for. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful for my place in grad school. I am grateful that I get to pursue my dream career. I am grateful for my hopes and dreams. I am grateful for my therapist. I am grateful that I am alive. I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, food to fuel my body, and air to breathe.

By reminding myself of everything that I have to be grateful for, I can re-frame my negative mindset and remember that even though it feels as though nothing is going right, this is not the case.

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These are some of the tricks that I use to get me through those days when it feels as though everything is chaos and nothing is going right. Let me know in the comments what you think and also feel free to add on any of your own tips!

Happy long weekend!

xo
Ayla

How to manage your mental health in university

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Mental health can be a troublesome issue at any point in life, but it can be especially tricky for students to manage such challenges in addition to all of the other stresses that come along with being a university or college student. Post-secondary education can often be a stressful (although still enjoyable!) phase of life. As such, it is quite common for students to develop mental health conditions, or for pre-existing conditions to worsen in severity. However, self-awareness can be a valuable tool in managing your mental health during your time as a student. Being aware of your struggles is the first step in addressing those issues and restoring your mental health. So without further ado, here are a few tips and tricks for managing your mental health and stress while studying in university or college.

Schedule time for yourself

The first step to managing your mental health while in university should be a proactive approach to taking care of yourself in order to avoid the development of mental health conditions. If you take time out of each day to do something that you enjoy that will help you relieve stress, you will be better able to manage anxiety that can often creep up on students during the semester. Never underestimate the significance of self-care. Make self-care part of your routine just as you would make time for classes, assignments, and work. Self-care is just as important as these other commitments so be sure to make time for it in your schedule.

See a therapist at your school

As a student, one of the services that you will most likely have access to is free or discounted therapy. You might not feel the need to see a therapist right now, but if the semester starts too feel overwhelming and your stress level is too high, perhaps you should consider talking to someone. Alternatively, you could also start to see someone before the stress level increases so that you can learn effective stress management techniques. As with self-care, therapy can be a proactive approach to managing your mental health; it doesn’t have to be a reactive solution.

Talk to your doctor

If you have a history of mental health conditions, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about how you can manage these conditions while you’re in school. This could mean taking medication, exercising more (or less), eating right, or maybe even getting a referral to support services in the geographic area of your school (if you are moving away from home for school). Whatever your needs might be, your doctor is an essential resource in the management of your mental health.

Get enough sleep

Sleep sleep sleep!! Sleep is so important! How can you expect yourself to effectively manage your mental health if you are running on fumes? Exhaustion can often be a trigger for feelings of depression and anxiety so it is incredibly important to get enough sleep. It may seem like a good idea to pull an all-nighter and load up on caffeine; however, caffeine can often increase the symptoms of anxiety and the lack of sleep would leave you feeling fatigued and unable to cope with these feelings. Getting enough sleep not only helps you avoid adding more anxiety to your already stressful life as a student, but it allows you to more effectively cope with your pre-existing stress.

Avoid procrastination

While procrastination can seem like a good idea when you’re really looking forward to a night of netflix and pizza, it’s not always the best idea. Watching one episode of your favorite show could be a great self-care activity, but watching an entire season in one sitting when you should be working on assignments is not a good use of time. While it may seem like a relief to avoid an assignment for a night, you will inevitably feel more stressed when you are running out of time to complete the assignment the next morning. Try to start your assignments as soon as you get them so that you never have to feel the added pressure of not being able to complete an assignment on time. In other words, don’t create more stress for yourself. Do your homework on time.

Lean on your support system

University is bound to be stressful from time to time for even the most diligent of students; therefore, it is extremely important that you develop a support system of people who you can lean on when you need a hand (or a shoulder to cry on as the case may be…) Don’t be afraid to let others know when you are going through a difficult time and be sure to ask for help when you need it. This could be as simple as having your best friend come over for a girls night of pizza and wine or as structured as having a pre-set schedule of phone calls with your parents. Whatever it may be, just make sure that you let people know that you might need them more during your years as a student.

Take care of your physical health

A healthy mind goes hand in hand with a healthy body. This means eating right, exercising enough, and (again) getting enough sleep. If your body is not feeling it’s best then how can you expect your mind to perform at it’s best? Take care of your physical health as yet another proactive approach to managing your mental health. Feeling good physically can make a huge difference in how you feel mentally. So, take care of yourself!

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I hope that you find these tips useful and I would love to hear your thoughts! If you have any feedback or any additional pieces of advice to add, feel free to leave a comment below!

As always, thank you for reading and good luck with the approaching school year!

xo
Ayla

Living alone vs. living with roommates in university

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As September approaches I am not only anticipating the start of a new school year, but also the start of a new living arrangement: I will be living completely alone for the first time. For the past two years I’ve lived with 1-2 roommates and I think it’s safe to say that I’ve learned a few things along the way.

First of all, living with a friend can be the death of the friendship. When you live with a friend, he or she might feel more entitled to cross boundaries than a roommate who you have no established relationship with. In my case, this meant that my roommate would regularly take my belongings without returning them to me and I would constantly have to chase her down to find my possessions when I needed them. This got extremely annoying and I ended up resenting her for it. Furthermore, living with a friend can mean that your roommate might not feel as obligated to pick up after him or herself because he or she might expect more leniency from living with a friend. While this may be true for the honeymoon phase, it gets annoying after a while which can cause added tension. Personally, I am hesitant to ever live with a close friend again following my current living arrangement.

With that being said, there are also downsides to living with a stranger. For starters, you don’t know the person well so you might not feel comfortable asking them to clean up their dishes or pick up after themselves. Additionally, you don’t know what their personality is like so you might end up clashing with each other. For example, in my previous apartment my roommates were both very social and liked to have large groups of guests over. I, on the other hand, am an introvert and I absolutely hate parties and large gatherings. Needless to say, the combination did not mix well and I spent most of my time in that apartment disliking my roommates.

In my experience, living with just one other individual lead to more conflict than living with two other people. Granted, in my current living arrangement I share a bedroom with my roommate whereas in my last apartment I had my own room. However, I believe that living with just one other person put a lot of strain on the relationship because there was never a third neutral party to help mediate conflicts. Living in a group of three meant that whenever there was a conflict we would have a roommate meeting to work things out. However, when living with just one roommate it was much more difficult to resolve conflict and disagreements were often much more heated.

So what did I learn? NEVER EVER SHARE A ROOM WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND. Never. It will ruin the friendship. Sharing an apartment is one thing; sharing a room is a totally separate level of living arrangement and it really is it’s own sort of mental torture.

Which leads me to my next point: living alone. While my relationship with my current roommate has drastically improved in the past few months, I am still relieved that she is moving out. I find myself feeling annoyed whenever we are home at the same time because it feels as though she is invading my space. So while it will cost me more money in rent now that she is moving out, part of me is still really happy that she is moving home to live with her parents after finishing university.

With that being said, I still have my reservations about living by myself. Won’t I be lonely living on my own? Who will I talk to? Who will help me if I’m having a bad day? Realistically though, my current roommate and I hardly speak to each other so she certainly does not help me when I’m having a bad day and if anything she makes me feel more lonely. Therefore, my fears are a bit nonsensical at the moment. While I don’t doubt that there will be moments when I’m lonely, I think living on my own will be the best thing for me, especially since I’m starting grad school in a few weeks. It will be good to alleviate the stress of roommate conflict and I think this will actually help me focus better on school than I would be able to if I was still having to share my room with someone who does not respect my space or my need for a quiet study space.

The moral of the story? If you find yourself constantly having conflicts with roommates and feeling miserable with your living arrangement, maybe it’s time to consider getting your own place. Having a space that is entirely your own may come with added responsibility, but it could also make a tremendous impact on your happiness and overall wellbeing. So why not give it a shot? I’ll be sure to make an updated post about my experience living alone once I’ve got some feedback about the experience!

Thanks for reading!

Ayla

 

 

5 Tips for Getting Grad School Ready (when you have a mental health condition)

It’s hard to believe that in less than one month I will be a graduate student. I’ve waited a year and a half to make this dream come true and now it’s finally here. Am I excited? Sure. But if I had to pick one word to describe how I’m feeling right now, I would say “terrified” is a better descriptor.

A few months ago I visited one of my undergraduate professors who wrote a letter of reference for admission into my graduate school program. While I was visiting she told me “if something both excites and terrifies you, you must do it”. Looking back on this conversation, I realize just how true these words of wisdom really are. When it comes to pursuing grad school, I know that I am not just pursuing a higher education; I am chasing my dream. Getting my master’s degree is the next big step that I have to take to become a mental health therapist. Recovery is another (although that has been an ongoing battle for the past few years…)

So, despite my fears and the incessant worried thoughts in the forefront of my mind, I know that I will push through the difficulty of this transition to make my dreams a reality. So without further ado, here are some of the ways that I’ve been getting grad school ready while struggling with anxiety and depression:

Plan ahead

If there is one thing that I know to be an effective way to deal with anxiety, it’s planning. Plan your schedule out ahead of time; get to know when your classes are, when you’ll be working, and when you’ll be able to have some free time. Also, plan your budget and finances so you’ll know what to expect in terms of cost, income, and any revenue or debt that you might incur.

Backpack with school suppliesPurchase your school supplies

If you want to feel ready for grad school, what better way is there than to actually get ready for grad school? Last week I went out to my local department store and picked up some composition notebooks to get myself ready for classes. I already have a stockpile of other necessary stationary, but if you don’t already have some then it would be a good idea to also stock up on pens, paper, sticky-notes, and a good quality backpack!

clean-up-grocery-cart-rules-healthier-shopping-ftrStock up on non-perishables

During my undergraduate degree, I often struggled to find time to go and buy groceries which meant that my cupboards were looking a little scarce towards the end of the semesters. In preparation for the inevitability of my hectic school schedule returning, I decided to go out and stock up on food products such as pasta, cereal, drinks, and other groceries to ensure that I’ve got enough supplies to last me for a while. If you’re going to be living in a dorm, you can probably skip this step, but if you’re going to be living off-campus and preparing your own meals then I highly recommend stocking up!

Make a list of reasons to keep going when the going gets tough

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety or depression, then chances are that you understand just how hard it can be to stay on track and keep going when you’re feeling your worst. As a preventative measure, I’ve written myself letters and enclosed them in envelopes labelled “for when you’re feeling sad” and “for when you feel like giving up” to remind my future self why she is going through the stress of grad school in the first place and to reinforce the goals that she is working towards. Sometimes it can be helpful to remind yourself that the struggle of the present moment won’t last forever and writing a letter to your future self can be a great way to do that.

talkingEstablish a support system

If you know that you’re going to have a hard time adjusting to the first few weeks or months of grad school, let someone who cares about you know that you are concerned. Talk to people about your struggles and let them know that you might need some extra support. There is nothing wrong with reaching out for help when you need it and sometimes having someone to call for a quick pep-talk is all you need to get yourself out of a rut. Some people you might consider talking to could be a parent, sibling, close friend, or therapist.

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I know that major life transitions can be really stressful and they can often have a negative impact on your mental health, especially if you’re already struggling. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the way you are feeling will not last forever and there are things that you can do to make the transition to grad school easier. I hope these tips are useful for you and be sure to let me know if there are any other tips and tricks that you have for coping with transitional phases of life such as starting university or heading off to grad school.

Good luck in the new school year to all of my fellow students out there!

xo
Ayla

 

 

 

The importance of ‘Me time’ in university and avoiding burnout

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I’ve written blog posts in the past about me-time and why I think it is so important and necessary for mental health; however, I’ve decided to rekindle this topic in the spirit of the approaching school year.

When it comes to university, students are faced with endless hours of lectures, tutorials, labs, part-time employment, and mountains of readings and assignments. It’s exhausting to say the least! As a result, it’s important to take some time out of your day to relax and unwind. This could be something as simple as listening to music during your morning commute to disconnect from the world around you or spending an hour watching an episode of your favorite TV show. Whatever it is, taking time out of your day to relax is essential to avoiding burnout.

As an introverted individual, I find alone time to be the best way for me to replenish my mental energy (aside from sleep). This may not be the case for you if you are an extroverted individual so keep this in mind when deciding how you should go about treating yourself to me-time.

One of the most common misconceptions that I think people have about me-time is the idea that you have to be completely alone for it to qualify as “me time”. But I don’t think this needs to be the case. On the contrary, I would define me-time as spending time doing things that replenish you and relieve stress. This could mean reading a chapter of a book before bed each night or it could mean going for a coffee with a friend. How you choose to spend your me-time is entirely up to you! What matters is that you’re actually making time for me-time.

As someone who has completed an undergraduate degree, I think I have enough experience in the area of being a student to assert that me-time is absolutely essential to avoiding burnout. In the first few weeks of the semester you are dealing with the stress of transition and change but you may not have much of an actual workload when it comes to assignments which can cause you to let your guard down. Unfortunately, if you’re not making a conscious effort to relax and unwind when the semester is not crazy busy then it will be more difficult to make time for me-time when the assignments start to pile up. Therefore, it is important that you set a routine for me-time at the beginning of the semester and stick with it. This will make me-time become second nature and you will be more likely to stick to your routine breaks when the semester becomes more stressful. In turn, you give yourself more opportunities to relieve stress throughout the semester which can help you avoid burnout and perform better in your classes as a result.

I know that this is obviously easier said than done, but if you plan ahead and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t when it comes to stress relief you will be better able to stay on track and stick to your me-time routine. Remember, nothing is more important than your mental and physical well-being. Make sure that you’re giving yourself opportunities to recuperate and relieve the stress that builds up from school. Your mind and body will be better off in the long run!

Let me know how you spend your me-time. What tips do you have for avoiding university burnout? Let me know in the comments below!

xo
Ayla

Grad school anxiety

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Lately, I’ve been struggling. And I mean REALLY struggling; the kind of struggling that involves spending days on end laying in bed trying desperately to hide from the world and the impending stresses of life (read: impending doom).

I knew this was coming: grad school anxiety. What I didn’t know was that it was going to be this bad. I had anticipated that I would feel anxious for maybe a week or so leading up to the first week of school but that the excitement would triumph over the nerves. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

My anxiety started eight weeks sooner than I originally predicted and the excitement most certainly did not win out. On the contrary, the excitement has virtually disappeared and in it’s place I’ve been feeling this overwhelming sense of fear and uncertainty. Will I be able to handle grad school? Will I be able to manage the workload? Will I be able to afford to support myself on top of all of these additional costs? And, most pressing of all, how will I survive such a huge transition?

I thrive on stability; I need it. Without stability I feel as though my life will implode. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that grad school is starting to feel like a life threatening situation rather than a new adventure for the coming years. My stability has been compromised and I am now in full blown fight or flight mode. But the problem is that I don’t feel strong enough to fight and I don’t have the energy for flight. So instead I stay in bed. I stare at the same four walls of my bedroom and feel endlessly sad. Whereas the time leading up to grad school admissions decisions seemed to slow to a crawl, time now seems to be flying by impossibly fast and I am desperate for it to slow down and give me time to breathe. September is just five weeks away. I start classes in just over a month. One month. How is that even possible? And how will I cope with the reality of that situation in five weeks when I can hardly cope with the idea of it right now?

Honestly, right now I don’t have an answer to that question. But that doesn’t mean I’ve decided to do nothing. On the contrary, after months and months of steadily increasing anxiety I have decided that it’s time for me to go back on medication for anxiety and depression. I’ve been avoiding medication for the past two years ever since my first experience with a different antidepressant; however, I’ve got to at least give it a shot. My doctors claim that this medication should drastically decrease my anxiety and at this point I really need some relief, especially with grad school starting soon.

My only source of hope at this point is the fact that I went through this before starting my undergraduate degree and I somehow managed to pull through that. If I could get through these feelings when I was 17, surely I can get through these same feelings six years later.

As Dory would say, “Just keep swimming”.

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xo
Ayla

Tips for creating the perfect study space

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Studying: the dreaded S word that all university and college students avoid until they can avoid it no more. But I’ve got good news! There are simple ways that you can motivate yourself to get cracking on that next study session just by improving your studying environment! Here are the tips and tricks that I find helpful when it comes to creating a productive study space:

De-clutter

How can you expect yourself to concentrate and be productive if your desk/study space is filled with unnecessary clutter? Clear the clutter out of your dedicated study area before your next study session to reduce distractions and give you more space to spread out your books and other studying materials.

f7208Step AWAY from the electronics!

Put. Your. Phone. DOWN.

If you’re constantly checking your phone or getting distracted every time you get a notification you’ll never get anything done. It’s a good idea to unplug from your phone, computer, and any other electronics which will distract you from the task at hand. I recommend leaving your phone in another room or turning it off and putting it in a drawer where it will be out of sight and out of mind.

Invest in a good lighting fixture

Lighting is important to improving your concentration. A well-lit space can mean the difference between being awake and attentive versus fatigued and distracted.

Get everything you need for studying before you sit down to start

Get your textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, coffee, tea, snacks, and anything else you might need ready before you sit down to study. While it’s important to take breaks while you study, you don’t want to be taking a break every time you need a pen or a drink of water. Keep the essentials close by to ensure that you stay on task and power through that study session.

Eliminate distractions

While I’ve already touched on the importance of putting your phone away during study sessions, it’s also important to eliminate other distractions in your study space. This could mean studying alone rather than studying in a group with friends who distract you. Alternatively, this could also be as simple as turning off your music or listening to white noise (I prefer the sound of ocean waves) to drown out the sounds around you that you can’t control.

x354-q80Be mindful of the time by keeping a clock nearby

Before you start to study, create a schedule for yourself and plan your break times ahead. This will not only keep you motivated to get to those break times, but it will also keep you on track by ensuring that you are sticking to shorter scheduled breaks rather than accidentally taking an hour-long YouTube or five hour Netflix break.

NOTE: Do NOT use your cell phone to keep track of the time! If you’re constantly checking the time on your phone then you are more likely to also be checking notifications which will mean less study time and more distractions. Instead, use a digital or analog clock while studying.

Be comfortable!

Last, but certainly not least, make sure you are comfortable! If you are physically uncomfortable, you aren’t going to be able to focus on the material in your textbooks. Try to ensure that you’ve got a comfortable chair to sit in while studying and if possible, wear comfortable clothing such as PJs, sweatpants, or yoga pants.

Furthermore, this rule also extends to mental comfort as well! If you’re feeling particularly stressed or you notice that you have a lot of things on your mind that are distracting you from your studies, try to take a 15 minute mindful meditation break. Breathe deeply and be mindful of the things causing you stress while simultaneously letting those thoughts go. This practice can be extremely helpful when it comes to relaxing and eliminating stress, both of which are essential to increasing concentration!

♥♥♥

I hope that these tips will be useful to some of you as you head off to your first year of university/college or return to school in the fall! I know that I have been making some changes to my study space to get myself back into the swing of things for grad school so I hope that these tips will help you as well!

xo
Ayla