Today was good. I’ve been so much more productive since I started this studyblr it’s unbelievable!

I had a lil slump in the afternoon but I did an extra hour and a half this evening to make up for it and I even got a kick start on next week.

The only thing was I gained weight this week :( I went from 53.5kg back to 54kg and I didn’t exercise enough today either.. But I’m going for a run before school tomorrow morning to wake myself up.

Ways to Avoid Burnout at University

Ok, I’ll admit, I seem like the worst person to give advice on this as around exam times I regularly burnout. But because I’m not as cold-hearted as I pretend to be, I don’t actually want to see anyone else fall into the same traps I do (regularly). First, here are a few of the bad habits burnout brings for me:

Heightened emotions – so much crying. Revising Latin from a textbook, I once cried because they’d introduced a new noun without giving the definition a chapter early. If you find yourself crying because of no reason (eg. you left your teabag in too long, your tutor has taken longer than 10 seconds to reply to your e-mail etc.), it’s probably burnout.

Apathy – on the other end of the scale, if you simply cannot find the motivation to sit down and study, if accompanied by other symptoms, it’s most likely burnout. Often a few days before exams I’ll find it almost impossible to keep revising with thoughts like ‘What is the point? I’ll fail anyway - why am I pushing myself so hard?’ floating around.

Disturbed sleep – I have sleep issues anyway but exam time only exacerbates the problem. Often I’ll find myself worrying about things to the point of feeling physically sick which isn’t exactly conducive for a good night’s rest. This leads to tiredness, lower quality of work and only further promotes things like heightened emotions.

Changes in diet – this can go two ways. You can find yourself barely eating anything at all due to all the work you’re doing or find yourself scoffing biscuits, chocolate, crisps and pizza in stress eating. Sometimes you may not even necessarily eat more unhealthy foods, but simply up the quantity tenfold. I usually swing between the two, barely eating anything during the day, then pigging out at around 2am on anything and everything I can find (a whole box of Cadbury’s Milk Tray for example).

Physical illness – all of the above does not a healthy student make. Lack of sleep especially lowers your immune system’s defences and makes you more susceptible to catching something, especially in a university or school environment. I usually end up with some kind of cold or chest infection around exams purely because I’ve run my body to the ground. Yes, I become that person who’s sniffling and coughing through exams (I’m sorry!).

But what can you do to prevent this?

Plan realistically – If you’ve left all of your revision until quite late, you may have to accept that you cannot feasibly revise it all to the standard you’d like. For example, for a language exam you may want to complete every exercise in the textbook in full but if there’s 130 exercises with an average of 20 questions in each, you may have to accept that it ain’t going to happen. Instead, try halving the amount – instead of answering all 20, pick the 10 most challenging to you and do them. You’ll half the time but still revise in a challenging way.

Find other sources available to you – By this I mean if you’ve read the books for your English Literature exam over and over, think of a different way to revise. Maybe a CrashCourse video while you have a cup of tea, or quizzes available online at places like Bitesize and Sparknotes? All of these are low-stress activities that are still engaging you without driving you down.

Break it up – The Pomodoro Technique of working for a set amount of time then forcing yourself to take a short break is fantastic, but sometimes 10 minutes simply isn’t enough. You may need a full day off revising. This is incredibly hard, especially for studyblrs, because I know I generally spend any time I’m not actively doing work panicking about the work I feel I should be doing. Unfortunately, you just have to force yourself. Your work quality will improve and your body will thank you for it. Maybe spend your day off trying to be extra healthy – go for a run, do some yoga, only drink herbal tea and lots of water, go to bed early even if you have trouble sleeping – you’ll still be forcing your body to rest.

SLEEP – This can be a bugger sometimes, not always through any fault of your own. Try ASMR or meditation videos, a Sleep Time tea and a nice shower before you go to bed. However sometimes other things are outside our control – other people in my block finished their exams much earlier than I did and obviously went out to celebrate. Good for them! However when they’re still screaming and slamming doors in your thin walled hall at 4am the day of your exam, it can get irksome. Earplugs or headphones, my friend. Or failing that, if you have friends in other halls, as a drastic measure ask if you can sleep in their room tonight. Probably won’t be as comfortable, but at least you’ll get some rest.

Hate to state the obvious, but look after yourself – University is hard for staying healthy, especially around exam time. You’re late in the library and the only things available are the sweets vending machines or the late night pizza delivery place, how on earth do you stay healthy then? Answer - prepare ahead. While I’m guilty of binge stress eating when it’s exam time, I generally try to stock up on healthy things so whilst I’m eating, at least I’m getting my 5 a day. If you have a fridge in your hall room, a pantry in your hall block or you live in self-catered accommodation, some great snacks are hummus, carrot sticks, feta cheese, cucumber, pitta breads, nutri-bars and nuts, besides the obvious fruit. When you start to feel mentally exhausted, go for a walk around campus – mine has a lake that’s good for an afternoon walk. Or force yourself to exercise at a set time – I’m part of my uni’s yoga soc, so I try to schedule in lessons as a way of forcing myself to take a break, relax and still exercise.

At the end of the day, you are more than your grades – You can’t do more than your best. Talk it over with your friends and/or family, they care about you and will listen and hug you until you feel better. My mum and my best friends have seen me burnout all the way through AS and A Levels and now they’ve seen me burnout at uni, and I can still say out of all of these techniques, ringing my mum and listening to her rant about the historical inaccuracies of the latest episode of The Musketeers and joining in with her, or discussing my friend’s new girlfriend with her, these are the most helpful. They calm you down, take your mind off work for half an hour and remind you how loved and supported you are.

Hope these were at the very least a little bit helpful!

x

How to stay productive when depressed/burnt out

In wake of the new year and people making resolutions to be more productive etc I thought I’d share some of what helped me be productive for people who are having difficulty getting things done, specifically if you are suffering from depression/burnout. Studyblrs are great and all but they all have the “just force yourself to do it” attitude that’s hard to attain for big things when your mental health is shaky.

Obviously in an ideal world you would be able to take a break from work completely but if you’re not in that situation, here are a few ideas:

  1. Lessen your expectations. Writing an email, or even getting out of bed and taking a shower are worthy accomplishments depending on how you’re feeling that day.
  2. If you’re at school and you take a load of fuckass subjects you actually don’t care about, only focus on the ones you do. Enjoyment is so hard to find, if one subject is slightly easier or more enjoyable for you then just focus on that and let the rest slide.
  3. Find some minimum-effort way of recording your progress, whether in a planner or in a studyspo blog where you reblog pictures for motivation. Even if you don’t actually make that much progress, feeling in control of that aspect of your work can make it seem more manageable. The idea is basically to find a small task you can manage and keep up with to make yourself feel like you’re trying your best.
  4. Give yourself incentives. You probably don’t want anything or feel like anything is worthwhile so it’s difficult to do your best for the sake of doing well or getting good grades etc. Instead give yourself incentives like retail therapy, or a movie, or anything you actually mildly feel like doing.
  5. Alternatively, ask a friend or parent to help check in on your work. Not to pressure you but to ask how you’re doing and help you assess whether you can actually finish what you’re doing or encourage you etc. You need someone who can tell you what steps to take when you feel so fogged up you don’t even know how to decide what to have for breakfast.
  6. if there’s no one you can talk to like that and you’re in an educational environment with anyone who is your counsellor, talk to them! They are there to look out for you. When I started feeling bad I first went to my uni advisor and she gave me a plan of action and helped me let all my teachers know, honestly anyone adult in your workplace/school who you feel relatively close to is really good to confide in because if you think about it their JOB DESCRIPTION is literally to provide an environment in which you are able to learn, also you know teachers will care about you because they chose a job which involves taking care of people your age for the better part of the day.
  7. In moments when you feel like you can actually get things done, don’t spend this time on trying to do as much as you can but rather assess how you use your time and what you can realistically get done. Try making lists, breaking things down etc so you don’t feel overwhelmed, and try and start a task because often starting is the hardest part.
  8. Don’t stay up trying to work. Set a time limit, e.g if I’m still up trying to work at midnight and it isn’t going anywhere I’m going to sleep. If you don’t sleep a lot usually/tend to wake up early try and get as much sleep as possible.
  9. Most importantly, prioritize yourself. Make it known that you are working on a different timeline than other people, that you are in the process of healing. Work comes second. If it gets too hard you can ignore all these tips and focus on getting the help you need.