How not to be paralysed by stress during tough circumstances? These are 7 tips of our student psychologists.
Your stress may be the result of an unrealistic schedule. If you set yourself targets and are unable to achieve them time and again, you will inevitably start to panic and over time will lose the will to keep going. You can break through this stalemate by thoroughly revising your goals. If you cut your specific goals in half, you may find it easier to motivate yourself to work a little longer and may get more done than you initially thought was possible.
Your study method could also be the bottleneck: maybe your approach is too general or you spend too much time concentrating on the details? Do you have a knack for highlighting and summarising your courses, but do you never get around to processing the information? Do you actually know how to assimilate large amounts of information? Why don't you make an appointment with a student counsellor? Who knows, you may be spending more time trying to allay your fears instead of getting to the heart of the matter.
Could it be your attitude toward studying? Do you automatically feel stressed out when things go too slowly or if you don't understand right off the bat? Keep in mind that the bar is set a rung higher at university than in secondary school. It's not unusual for it to take a bit longer to figure out a difficult chapter.
Is your fear of failure the outcome of certain negative thinking patterns? Do your thoughts immediately turn to the most unfavourable scenario? Do you have the tendency to draw general conclusions from a small mistake? Is your vision clouded by information that only confirms your own negative outlook? Why don't you try to approach your studies from a different perspective? It's only once you're thinking clearly again, that you'll be capable of constructive behaviour.
Does your fear of failure mainly manifest itself in physical complaints? Then it is definitely worth your while to adopt a number of relaxation techniques, such as abdominal breathing. The point is to bring your body into more of a state of relaxation. This will inspire a more rational approach to the situation. The more exercise your body's activation system gets, the more quickly it will also take place effectively. The trigger for generating stress hormones becomes increasingly smaller which is obviously a harmful development.
Is procrastination your greatest. culprit? Do you excel at thinking of all kinds of other side-line activities, anything to avoid studying? From now on, set yourself a fixed target including when and how you want to achieve it. Identify potential obstacles and come up with a solution ahead of time. You will be able to eliminate typical distractions and excuses with the right self-control techniques.
Are you such a perfectionist that you want to do everything just right, setting yourself up for failure? Unfortunately, perfection does not exist. Try to think in gradations instead of in extremes. Have the courage to fail! Failing one exam is not the end of the world. There's a good chance you'll still earn your degree without too much of a hitch.
The Student Counselling Office of Ghent University offers information, professional advice and counselling concerning the different aspects of a study career, before, during and after the period of study.
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