Studying English can be stressful, especially when preparing for a University exam or a dream job interview. Although studying and achieving your goals can be a very positive experience, many students say that they have moments of feeling overwhelmed or under immense pressure.
Together with my students, we ran a conversation club all about study and mental health. We met with people from all over the world and shared useful advice to help each other feel relaxed and motivated with English. We’d like to share our findings with you!
1. Healthy body, healthy mind
“I study best in the morning, after my workout session, I’m so much more productive” (R, from Germany)
What time of day are you most productive? Are you eating and drinking well while spending so much time at your desk? How can you build exercise into your routine? Listen to you your body—staying healthy is as important for your language as the grammar book you bought.
2. Dealing with exam stress
“I failed my IELTS several times, and it took me 2 years to complete my studies and get the score I needed. In the second year, I hit a wall, I was so stressed, and I felt like I just couldn’t improve. I had to take a big step back and deal with the stress to get back on track” (K, from China)
Stressed about an exam? It is important to take a deep breath and try to relax when it comes to exams. Stress will in fact get in the way of learning, so make sure to speak to someone and set goals that are realistic, even if it means taking a break.
3. Developing a peer network
“What a joy to meet and study with other people—it makes learning English feel totally worth it” (Y, from Saudi Arabia)
There are many ways to find student networks online, conversation groups, book clubs, even student and teacher blogs. You can also ask your teacher to get you connected with others to share ideas and practice speaking.
4. Getting organised
“I used to wake up in the morning and feel like I was constantly studying, even though I wasn’t getting enough done. I didn’t know how much time to spend on listening, writing, grammar and so on” (P, from Chile)
Sit down with a teacher or peer and make yourself a study plan. A good plan should include short-term goals like how many essays to write in a week, as well as long-term ones like reading a book each month. Plans can include what you need—lessons, self-study, pronunciation practice, vocabulary notes. And there are many useful online tools, like Quizlet, to help you keep flashcards.
5. Prioritising sleep and rest
“I just couldn’t concentrate in the exam. I was so tired” (E, from Angola)
It’s the oldest saying in the book, but we found that the better we slept and rested, the better the exam results. Make sure you build the rest into the study plan too.
We’d love to know your ideas. What do you find stressful about studying? What are your top tips for looking after your mental health?