Whether you’re preparing for exams or simply keeping up with classwork, study sessions are often a source of stress. It's easy to procrastinate and avoid hitting the books as long as possible, which only compounds your stress levels later on.
Here’s how to reduce anxiety around studying and make the learning process more pleasant overall.
1. Practice Mindful Meditation
Before diving into a study session, take a few minutes to practice mindful meditation. The free Medito app teaches you how to meditate with quick daily sessions, and they even have a whole section of audio content specifically for students.
Learn how to deal with feelings of nervousness around your studies and eventually react to your schoolwork with more positivity, all while listening to soothing narration. It's an excellent way to settle yourself and put everything in perspective as you get into study mode.
Download: Medito: Meditation & Wellness for iOS | Android (Free)
2. Listen to Calming Music
Listening to music can have a positive, moderate effect at reducing your stress level, according to Health Psychology Review. Music not only helps calm your nerves, but it can also offer a welcome distraction from those stressful thoughts and emotions.
Your choice of study music can be super personal, but for the most part, many people enjoy music without any vocals to help improve focus. (Otherwise, you might get too caught up in the lyrics).
Here are some calming playlists on Spotify designed to help you focus, so experiment until you find the songs that suit your study habits.
To totally drown out the rest of the world, a great pair of over-ear wireless headphones can go a long way toward eliminating distractions. They offer an immersive way to enjoy your music. Plus, larger headphones like these act as a sort of do-not-disturb sign when you're wearing them.
3. Study With a Friend
Tackling your study sessions with a friend may help improve your grades, according to the Journal of Peer Learning. Having a buddy present can make your learning environment feel less stressful as well.
Meet up with a study partner in person, set up a Zoom meeting, or join a virtual room in Study Together, the online student community. Sometimes the presence of another person, even virtually, offers all the motivation you need to buckle down and get through your studies.
Whether in-person or online, a great study partner can help you focus and feel less overwhelmed by the task at hand.
4. Try Relaxation and Breathing Exercises
Simple breathing exercises can do wonders for reducing your stress levels in the moment. The Breathing Exercises by Breeze app provides a helpful way to follow breathing exercises at any time.
Take a multi-day course to relieve stress by breathing, or follow a two-minute practice designed to help you focus, decrease anxiety, or release negative thoughts. Choose a practice, then follow along with the simple cues to inhale, exhale, or momentarily hold your breath.
It also offers personalized exercises based on your maximum inhale time, as well as how long you can comfortably hold your breath. Aim to complete a breathing exercise every hour (or whatever interval works for you) to keep stress levels low while you focus.
Download: Breathing Exercises by Breeze for iOS (Subscription required, free trial available)
5. Manage Your Study Time Efficiently
Feeling pressed for time is another source of stress. Investing in a study planning app is one way to allocate your time well and stay on top of all your deadlines. Sometimes, simply organizing everything you need to do is a simple way to reduce feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.
In addition, giving yourself built-in breaks can be another efficient way to maintain focus for long periods of time. Using the free Pomofocus timer makes it easy to work in 25-minute sprints with regular 5-minute breaks. Take advantage of those breaks to stretch, drink water, or simply zone out for a minute before getting back at it.
6. Let Go of Perfectionism
Are you putting unnecessary pressure on yourself? Perfectionism is often linked to an increased perception of stress among students, according to the International Journal of Mental Health. In other words, by trying to excel at all things, you may be inviting more stress into your life.
Instead, make an effort to let go of this particular impulse. For this goal, the MindShift app offers tools for helping you cope with perfectionism.
First, the Home screen offers a section that outlines perfectionism, its common signs, and tips to avoid perfectionistic thinking. There's also a Thought Journal you can use to identify your worries and challenge them with more balanced thoughts.
Meanwhile, the Chill Zone offers audio content to help you release tension, try out breathing techniques, and even face-test anxiety with a positive visualization exercise. By picturing yourself calmly walking into the classroom to take the test, you get the chance to prepare for a confident test-taking experience beforehand.
Otherwise, the app includes plenty of helpful advice for students (and anyone else who deals with anxiety issues from time to time). Best of all, the MindShift app is completely free to use.
Download: MindShift CBT for iOS | Android (Free)
7. Reach Out
If anxiety about school and your studies becomes overwhelming, or you simply need the chance to vent about it for a bit, don't hesitate to reach out for support. Speak with a trusted friend or instructor, or contact your school's counselor.
Alternatively, try out the best therapy apps for mental health—such as BetterHelp or Therapeer. In some cases, simply talking about your school stress can make it feel more manageable. Commiserating with your fellow students about the workload is a time-honored tradition, after all.
Reduce Stress and Study With Confidence
Managing schoolwork and study time comes with its own share of challenges, but you can learn to take on these educational tasks with confidence. With help from a few relaxing apps, a study buddy, and the right playlist, you can tackle your school work with less stress.