6 Strategies for Balancing Studying and Self-Care During Stressful Times

1. Start studying early 

If possible, avoid cramming at the last minute for a test. Try starting a week or two in advance and carving out 20-30 minutes per day to focus on studying. Giving yourself more time will help you to commit the content to memory. It will also help you to balance the content, manage your time, and avoid increased stress and anxiety at the last minute. 

2. Find a study environment that fits your needs 

Do you prefer to study in quiet environments alone, or with a group? You know yourself best. Try to create an environment that best fits your study style. Do your best to eliminate distractions. If it helps, you can move your phone (or other distractors) to another room while you study. 

3. Use study strategies that work well for you 

Study strategies aren’t one-size-fits-all. Try finding a method that best fits your own learning style. If something isn’t working for you, switch it up! Here are just a few examples of study techniques: 

  • Pretend you are teaching the content to someone else. If you have a roommate, friend, partner, family member, or even a pet, you can practice with them. If not, you can always practice alone. If you can clearly and thoroughly explain the content, it demonstrates how well you know the material.  
  • Create flashcards for key terms and concepts. 
  • Write down your notes and color code them. Get creative! Try creating visuals, rhymes, acronyms, or patterns to make connections and help you remember the content. 
  • Pick a topic and write down everything you know about it without looking at your notes. 
  • Create your own practice tests. 
  • Work with a classmate and quiz each other on key concepts. Discussing the content, bouncing ideas off each other, and quizzing each other will help expand your understanding of the content. 
  • Break larger, complex topics and theories down into specific examples. Think about how you would apply it in practice.  
  • Create a mock lesson plan, study guide, or outline for the content you are studying. 
  • Identify connections between themes and topics. Create diagrams, charts, or lists. 

4. Take breaks 

Taking breaks will help with your concentration, ability to focus, and overall productivity. Building in breaks can also help you prioritize caring for yourself. Set a timer to remind yourself to step away and take a break. For example, for every 30 minutes of work, stop and take a break.  

5. Take care of yourself and maintain healthy habits 

Studying can be stressful. Your grades and productivity are not reflections of your self-worth. Remember to prioritize taking care of yourself as you study. Self-care isn’t selfish! 

  • Stay hydrated. 
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. 
  • Move your body in a way that feels good for you. 
  • Eat nutritious food. 
  • Spend time outside. 
  • Engage in mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation practices. Examples can include deep breathing, body scans, guided meditations, yoga, and more. 
  • Spend time with loved ones. 
  • Make time for activities and hobbies you enjoy. 
  • Give yourself time to rest and recharge, even if that means doing nothing at all. 

6. Ask for help when you need it

If you are having trouble understanding the class material or would like some extra help, reach out for support. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Try reaching out to your instructor, TA, or a trusted classmate. Go to office hours. There are also many campus resources available to support you including the Dennis Learning Center, The Writing Center, the Younkin Success Center, Disability Services, the Mathematics and Statistics Learning Center, and University Libraries 


-Lucy Hennon, Graduate Student Assistant

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