Study tips 3: Mental health | The Open College of the Arts
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Study tips 3: Mental health

The phrase “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” is very pertinent when considering what to study.
We recently posted about Mental Health Awareness Week, highlighting the support available to students, and some brief indicators of stress.
This is a topic that has been very prominent in the Higher Education sector over the past few years. The National Union of Students (NUS) reported in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Students (APPG) in 2016 that 87% of students have felt stress at some point during their studies.
Stress can be caused by any number of factors; financial, academic, social, for example. Some stress can be beneficial, enhancing motivation, and cognitive function among other things. As is so often the case though, it is when the balance is upset, and there is too much stress that the negative side-effects come out.
Over the course of doing a degree, there is a lot of opportunity for life to get in the way, and finding and keeping that motivation can be difficult, particularly over the 12 years that you might be with OCA.
In the latest installment of our mini-series on study tips, students at OCA had their own suggestions on how to manage the mental side to studying:
“Keep momentum on your course by constantly ticking things off; break the assignments into bitesize chunks so they don’t seem too big to deal with.”
“Don’t worry about the end product; focus on the journey and the rest will follow.”
“Give yourself the time and space to manage your studies, and if you need to step back, do so.”
“I find that meditation helps me to regain focus; I use an app called Headspace which offers 10 free meditation sessions.”
“Try to learn from mistakes, learn from what has gone wrong so that you can improve in the future; adopt an open mindset.”
“Accepting change; my reasons for studying changed over time, but embracing that change helped me to keep going.”
“It’s not easy all the time, when you find that you can’t carry on, have a break, do something different, and come back refreshed.”
“Try motivational quotes – Picasso “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
The marathon metaphor really applies for me, and the concept of endurance is a good one in studying for a degree. Quotes work well, and I’m always minded of this one from Martin Luther King Jr.:

If you can’t fly, then run,
If you can’t run, then walk,
If you can’t walk, then crawl,
But whatever you do you,
You have to keep moving forward.

Always remember though that support is available for you if you find yourself struggling, just get in touch with us here at OCA and we will be happy to help.
N.b. some submissions have been edited for clarity and/or length.
Image: OCA student Joanna Beaumont

Posted by author: Craig Dewis
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2 thoughts on “Study tips 3: Mental health

  • Thanks for a great post – the mentioning of meditation site just caught my eye. Something I’ve wanting to do for a while and here a solution to an easy way to get that ball rolling. 🙂

  • Thanks for this, some really sound advice.
    I find when it all gets too much going for a really long hike in nature really helps, stepping away from it all for a little bit helps refocus the mind. Walking is a good thinking pace to work things out in your head.

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