Guest article by Nicholas Randall of StudentSharp
Stress while studying can affect all of us to the point where we pace like a wound-up toy, nervously gulping coffee and browsing Facebook in an attempt to run away from it all. Luckily, that doesn’t need to be the case. Learn these 5 ways to reduce stress while studying and you’ll be on the right path to a relaxed, focused, productive workflow.
#1 Way to Reduce Stress: Green Tea
Green tea has been touted by many as a panacea for stress reduction, weight loss, cancer defense and more. One study found that participants exposed to l-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, had lowered blood pressure compared to placebo and caffeine groups and also reported lower Tension-Anxiety scores. Also, a study from Japan showed that drinking five cups of green tea a day might reduce the incidence of psychological distress by 20 percent. The l-theanine amino acid in green tea helps promote alpha brain waves, which contribute to a relaxed, alert state of mind. Also, there’s much less caffeine in green tea than competing drinks like coffee, which make it a good choice if you’re trying to reduce caffeine for stress as we’ll cover later.
#2 Way to Reduce Stress: Meditation
Another great way to shift your brain wave patterns toward the slower, calmer alpha and theta states is through meditation. Lighter meditation practice results in alpha waves, which are a sign of deep relaxation. More advanced practice can result in theta waves, which increase a feeling of connectedness with the universe and well being. Also, meditation can decrease self-centered thinking and depression and anxiety, which can certainly help promote more focused studying. Meditation doesn’t need to be hard: all you have to do is sit or lie down comfortably, and attempt to clear out all thoughts from your mind as they come in for as little as five minutes.
That’s mindfulness meditation- there are other types, too. So take a short break from studying and meditate to “sharpen the saw” i.e. become more efficient.
#3 Way to Reduce Stress: Exercise
Add exercise to your weeks for a stress-busting effect. Exercise releases endorphins, which basically make you feel good and reduce pain, similar to morphine. It also reduces inflammation in the brain and promotes the growth of new blood vessels and brain cells. It can improve memory and concentration, as well. Exercise can be as simple as taking a walk, or can be as involved as swimming or lifting weights. Choose what works well for you.
#4 Way to Reduce Stress: Reduce Caffeine
Some people may feel that caffeine makes them more productive, or puts them in a better mood. Actually, it’s a drug with identifiable peaks and valleys of mood and concentration, and once hooked, you rely on the drug to even feel normal. Too much caffeine increases anxiety, which is why downing those espresso shots while studying isn’t such a great idea. Also, it increases cortisol (the stress hormone)’s levels in the body, which can lead to weight gain among other complications. The common advice is to drink four or fewer cups of coffee a day, but even that much is enough to cause dependence, so be careful. I try to stick to at most two cups a day and might switch over to green tea for the long haul.
#5 Way to Reduce Stress: Use Fewer Technology Distractions
Do you find yourself checking your phone or your email constantly, not wanting to miss out on any notifications, likes, messages or updates? This behavior may be contributing to your stress level. A study referenced here found that students who were the most used to using their phones were the most anxious when deprived of it after only 15 minutes. Another study said about the same thing, and a large percent of responders said they didn’t like the way they were attached to technology. Besides that, being accustomed to funny/shocking/interesting material can make studying seem almost unmanageably boring, so you might consider reducing the time you spend online to promote good study habits. Check out this video that explains technology distractions and the Attention Economy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50R21mblLb0
That’s all! Did you like the list? Did you find yourself relating to any, or maybe all of it? These behaviors tend to go in tandem with each other, but the more you start establishing healthy study habits, the easier it’ll get. For my personal wellness and productivity, I follow all of the suggestions I wrote about and I know they definitely help me. Share your thoughts in the comments, or share this article if you liked it or you think it could help someone! If you’re looking for SAT Prep, check out StudentSharp’s Ultimate SAT Guide.