3 Signs Of Study Anxiety And How To Alleviate It
Are you finding yourself anxious about your next assignment? Worried that you’ll fail an upcoming exam? Some worry about your studies is to be expected, but when worrying turns into full blown anxiety, it can be a serious hindrance to your productivity and wellbeing. When you’re studying and working at the same time, it can be especially difficult to recognise what a normal amount of overload is. Here are three signs that you’re experiencing study anxiety, and what to do about it.
1. You’re obsessed with getting things perfect
It’s natural, and even admirable, to want to do your best. But when that desire turns into a compulsion, it can become paralysing. You stare at the computer screen trying to think of the perfect opening sentence, and the minutes stretch into hours. Or you write the assignment, and then rewrite it, and then rewrite it again. When the desire to get something perfect is interfering with the ability to finish it at all, you may be experiencing maladaptive anxiety, where the risks of imperfection are being blown out of proportion.
Try setting yourself a strict time period in which to finish a task and then stick to it. If it’s not perfect, that’s okay: finish anyway. If you’re finding that your perfectionism is causing you to freeze up and not begin a task, you can try breaking it down into smaller ones, or telling yourself that this is just a draft, or a practice run. It’s difficult to do, but if you can embrace the fear as a lesson rather than a warning, you may be able to break through the paralysis.
2. You spend all your time thinking about it
When you’re immersed in a research project or revising for exams, it’s common to be thinking about the topic even when you’re not studying. Indeed, often our brains work best when they’re working in the background, allowing you to make connections and progress further when you take regular breaks and then return to the task. However, if you’re unable to think of anything else, you may be experiencing another anxiety symptom: repetitive thoughts. Our brains go over and over the same track, usually worrying about something that we can’t control or reminding us to do something we’re unlikely to forget.
There are a couple of approaches here. One is to notice that we’re stuck in a cyclical loop and use a ‘circuit breaking’ statement to control it. Sometimes acknowledging the loop is enough to break it. Another trick is to write down the things we’re worrying about. Our brains can only hold a certain number of things at once, and if we feel overwhelmed with small tasks, the mind starts looping those tasks over and over to keep them all at the forefront. Our RAM, if you will, becomes overloaded. Writing down a to-do list ‘downloads’ the things we’re worrying about and allows our brains to relax.
3. You can’t sleep
Insomnia is something that strikes us all from time to time, but is also a common sign of anxiety. You rise the next day already fatigued, fuel yourself with more caffeine and sugar to make it through, and the cycle repeats. Both caffeine and lack of sleep can fuel the anxious thoughts and contribute to further sleep deprivation.
If this sounds like you, it’s time for a break. Whether it’s study, work, or something else that is stressing you, take time out of your regular routine for some serious YOU time. Whatever it is that makes you feel most content and at ease is how you should spend this time. Remember – nothing is more important than your health and the health of those you cherish.
Join the conversation
Have you experienced anxiety, fuelled by the pressure to perform? How did you gain some perspective and come out the other side?
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Huffington Post, David Mansaray, Anxiety Network and Lifehack.