Causes of study stress and how to overcome them

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed, practically paralyzed when it comes to your studies? Do you feel like escaping from your worries by skipping class altogether to perhaps party with your friends? Finding yourself in a situation like this can mean that you are under stress.

Stress can motivate you to do better. On the other hand, too much stress can disrupt your health resulting in symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, inability to sleep. Recognizing that you are under stress, and finding out the source will enable you to manage it.

Sources of stress

1. Fear of failure
We all experience this fear many times in our lives. You may be afraid of not passing the course or the exams, not getting a good grade for a term paper, or looking bad in a class presentation.

2. Fear of not living up to parents’ and/or teachers’ expectations
A second source of stress is the expectations that others have of us. Parents play a very significant role in this aspect, as they would always push their children to excel so they can be proud of them to other parents, to their friends, relatives and the community. Sometimes, parents exert undue pressure by comparing a student with a sibling who has had excellent success in school.
Teachers by their position obviously are a source of stress as they are the ones who have the power to pass or fail a student, or give an excellent grade.

3. Fear of being compared to peers
A third source of stress would be the fear of lagging behind versus your peers. If you consider yourself highly competitive, you might be pressuring yourself to be at the top of your class, and achieve an excellent grade in almost every exam and paper to be submitted.

4. Competing activities
Most students’ calendar would be filled with class schedules, as well as social activities, sports tournaments, dance practice, dates with friends, family events and so on. Sometimes there seems to be no more time for rest leaving you feeling overwhelmed.

5. Not knowing where to go or what to do
If you are unclear about the subject requirements and how to prepare for these, where to go for resources or help, then you will experience anxiety and tension.

6. Poor study environment
You will have difficulty focusing depending on the degree of clutter and lack of organization in your area.

A few tips on how to manage and reduce your stresses

1. It helps to discuss your fears with a trusted friend or counselor or teacher. This will enable you to clarify your thoughts and feelings, identify what stresses you out and find help on dealing with it from another person’s perspective. Remember that failing in a course, or exam does not detract from your value as a person. It only means you did not succeed this time. Keep in mind that there is always a second chance.

2. If you are unclear about your teachers’ expectations, ask to meet with them to discuss. You may find yourself relieved when the workload turns out to be very much manageable and their expectations realistic. You will also find out where to find resources.

3. Learn to prioritize
Keep in mind your primary objective in being in school and use this as a yardstick to trim off activities that do not bring you closer to your goal. For example, ask yourself, do you really need to accept every social invite?

4. Practice good study habits by organizing your time, priorities and study environment.

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