After almost eight weeks of lockdown you may be one of many students who’s missing university life and finding it hard to study. So here are five tips to help you keep on top of your degree studies.
Stick to a routine
As the weeks grind on, lockdown is becoming the new normal. Humans are creatures of habit, so it’s important to have a routine and stick to it.
You’ve probably heard it all before! Get dressed in the mornings. Eat at the same time each day. Designate a space for studying. And don’t forget to turn off your phone and social media while you work!
But you may also find it useful to keep a calendar or timetable that sets out any online lectures, tutorials and student forum meetings.
Include time for assignments, reading and regular breaks, as well as deadlines. Set yourself achievable goals so that you can tick them off as you complete them.
And make sure you have a proper end to your day, where you can congratulate yourself on what you’ve achieved.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to recognise your achievements – regardless of how small. Maybe you have completed some reading, made some notes or outlined some coursework. Whatever it is, it’s a step closer to the final piece.
You’ve accomplished something in your day and now it’s time to relax. Do something different. Watch a film or your favourite boxset. Skype a friend.
It is doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s not studying and helps you wind down.
You should definitely include exercise in your daily plan – not just because it’s good for your physical health. It’s also amazing for your brain and will help you focus.
Even 20 minutes of exercise before you sit down to study can make a difference. It’s all down to the hippocampus – the brain’s ‘random access memory’ (RAM). Exercise promotes cell growth in your hippocampus and that in turn helps you remember, solve problems and concentrate.
If you can get out, anything from a brisk walk to a run will do the trick. For the those new to running, try Couch to 5K on the NHS website.
If you can’t get out, there are lots of free resources for home workouts on YouTube.
Or you can put on your favourite song and dance. Listening to music increases dopamine in the brain – as does dancing – so you’ll feel rewarded. Exercising releases serotonin, inducing contentment. And endorphins, free up your energy.
Make the most of academics
Most universities are now delivering lectures, seminars and assessments online. They’ll vary in the way they’re doing that and the level of tutorial support they can give.
For example, here at LIBF we offer interactive seminars and discussion forums, and staff are available to provide academic and library support to students.
Keep up to date with what your university can offer you. It’s important that you keep in touch with your support staff, tutors and librarians and ask for support if you need it – just as you would under normal circumstances.
You might also consider setting up an online study group – using Zoom or Skype – with a group of fellow students. It’s always good to discuss learning, share book recommendations and hear different points of view.
You’re bound to be missing the library so make the most of online library resources that your university offers. Other good free library resources include the British Library online and Internet Archive.
Ask for help if you need it
This is a very weird time so please don’t suffer in silence if you’re finding it challenging.
Some universities are extending deadlines for assignments, or have cancelled exams with automatic progression to the next year of study. Some are offering financial help to those in urgent need. And many will offer counselling, advice services and support networks.
They may even offer one-to-one support sessions, that you can book online or by email, as we do at LIBF.
Again, check your university’s website to see what they offer.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, you can also get help from the NHS through your GP and from local charities. For a list of online support resources, apps and phonelines to help students see the Student Minds website.
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