Studying when you’re depressed can be really difficult. I feel like I should have gotten an extra diploma for graduating while managing my depression. Trust me, if you don’t figure out a way to study and end up letting your grades slide it will make you feel even worse. Set up a system and do the best you can. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Not everyone at your school is managing a mental illness. You need to try and find tricks that will work for you, but here are some of the things that helped me.
Set a Goal
Set a goal for your homework each day. It could be to read a certain number of chapters or working on a draft of a paper. When you sit down to study, you should be working on completing a specific task. If you don’t have a task in mind then set a time goal (reading for 45 minutes, researching a paper for an hour etc). Make sure you take plenty of breaks and you don’t burn yourself out. Have a very clear goal in mind before you get ready to study.
Your energy right now is precious. You want to make sure you’re only using it on tasks that are important and need to get done. Make a list of each assignment you have and the due date for each. I like to map everything out on a calendar so I can see what I have coming up. Use your lists and calendar to figure out what’s the most important thing to work on right now. Try to pull out the top three things are the most urgent and focus all of your energy on them.
Make a Plan
Once you’ve figured out what work to prioritize, make a plan for the week. Figure out the most important things to get done each day the week and write it out. Make sure you’re taking into account what you wrote on your priorities list for your assignments. Try and figure out how long each task on your priority task will take to complete and schedule your study time. Think about when you actually get the most work done. I hate getting up in the morning but that’s actually when I do my best work. If I put off homework, until the end of the day, there’ss a good chance I’ll end up watching TV with my dog instead. Try to schedule your study time at your most productive times. If you don’t know what time works best for you try scheduling at various times on different days and see what works best. Trying to get through school when you’re depressed is hard, take the time to make a clear game plan.
Go to a Therapist
Most colleges have free therapy available for students. This is an unbelievable resource and you should take advantage of it. It is very unlikely you’ll be able to go to therapy for free after you graduate. When I was doing my undergraduate degree, I went to therapy every week for free. This would have cost me thousands of dollars to pay for out of my own pocket. Even if you’re just feeling stressed from school go to the therapist. They’re trained to work specifically with students and can be a great resource for you. If you’re school doesn’t have free therapy checkout Better Help. This is the service I use and I really like it. It lets you talk to a therapist via text throughout the day (you can call or skype too but I prefer texting). I like that I can text my therapist every day and it is still cheaper than going to one traditional therapy session per week.
Move Your Butt
Put on a short video on YouTube (see some of my favorite dancing workouts here), go for a walk or do a short yoga routine. Challenge yourself to do something no matter how small. Exercise will give you more energy and you need all the energy you can get right now. If you feel like you can’t focus take a ten-minute exercise break to recharge yourself (check out my ten-minute exercise Pinterest board here)
School is important but you and your health are more important. Make sure you’re prioritizing your mental health care. Ask for help if you need it. Reach out to a friend or family member. Let them know you’re struggling and need support. Work hard but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get everything done. College is hard and you’re managing a mental illness. You can also try our free 5-day Mental Health Makeover E-Course by subscribing to our mailing list. Make a list of things that make you feel relaxed and try to do at least one of them every day. When you have a lot of work to do self-care can feel like a waste of time but trust me, it’s not. If you don’t take care of yourself you’ll end up sick, stressed out and in an even worse mental state. Take time to go for a walk, take a bath, or write in a journal. These things will help you stay charged. You will end up getting more done than if you skip over them and let your mental health deteriorate.
Get Out of Your House
The thing that helped me study the most was going to the library. Find a place you can go to study. My school library had small rooms you could use for this purpose. I’d go there to study every day and it really helped. If I tried to study at my house I would end up procrastinating or sleeping all day. Going to study at the same place, at the same time, every day really helped me. If the library isn’t your thing try going to a coffee shop. I used to post up at a local bakery by my house for a few hours on my way to school. Get into a routine of waking up and going somewhere to do your homework. It’s really satisfying to go somewhere and complete your study goal. You will come home feeling accomplished.
Try to Eliminate Distractions
Identify what distracts you when you’re studying and how you waste time. Social media was always a big distraction for me. If I needed to write a paper I would turn the WiFi off on my laptop or go to a cafe that I knew didn’t have internet access. I also like to have the TV on when I would study but (surprise) I never got much done and my work wasn’t the best quality. Whatever your distraction is, try your best to eliminate or minimize it.
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. You can download a free printable list of hotlines here and join the free mental health support group on Facebook here. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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