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How to conquer study block

You’ve enrolled on your new course and you’re excited to start learning the skills and knowledge to help you succeed. But then slowly, over time, you start to feel yourself getting stuck. You stare at your screen, roll a pen between your fingers and find anything to do BUT study.

You are experiencing a study block

Study block is that feeling of resistance, paralysis and inaction that can prevent you from achieving your goals or hitting your targets. While it’s an alienating and frustrating experience – you are not alone. People from all walks of life face mental blocks throughout their life, with numerous students encountering study-specific issues. 

So in this blog, we’ll look at the possible causes of your study block, as well as the different types of mental barriers you may be experiencing. Plus, we’ll explore how to get over the study block, so you can get moving towards your new horizon again!

But first, is study block a thing?

Absolutely. Many students report feeling stuck or worried when they try to work through their coursework. This sense of “mental fatigue” is also common in working professionals of all kinds, as the root causes often stem from similar mindsets or external factors that surround productivity, output and perceived success. Most mental blocks have similar symptoms – an inability to concentrate, brain ‘fog’, a lack of drive & consistent procrastination. 

What is becoming more understood, however, is that an untreated mental block or long term mental fatigue can have an impact on your physical health. A prolonged raising of cortisol levels, caused by worry and stress, can weaken the immune system, impact sleep & generally take a toll on your body. So you may find you have other physical symptoms such as slow recovery from illness or injury, catching every bug that’s going around, digestive issues and poor sleep quality.  

Therefore, overcoming a mental block is key to not only completing your studies and moving your career forward, but also to your general sense of well being and contentment. Overcoming a mental block is also a huge personal achievement, one that is an invaluable life lesson that you will carry with you into future problem-solving. You’ll build resilience, be in touch with your unique needs and come out with a better understanding of yourself. 

So to begin working through how to combat study blocks, let’s examine the causes more closely.

The types of mental blocks

Ultimately, a mental block is usually a ‘limiting belief’ in disguise. It may be hard to pinpoint, but the real reason you feel resistance is usually a mixture of the following fears: 

  • Self-doubt – Also known as “imposter syndrome”, you might feel deeply worried that you are not good enough to complete the tasks or fulfil the role you are set up for. You may dream of joining a certain career, but once you start you begin to worry you aren’t good enough. 
  • Uncertainty – Certainty is something all humans crave, which is why stepping outside our comfort zones and doing something new can feel very scary and unnerving. You might feel overwhelmed with new information and new routines, causing you to procrastinate or avoid the tasks.
  • Perfectionism – Perhaps you feel nothing you do is ever good enough, which leads you to a spiral of indecision and restarting work – before you grind to a halt. Being afraid of failure, you will stay stuck in coursework limbo!

What should I do if I hit a study block?

When you’re stuck in a study block, you might assume you just need to think harder or work harder to get through it. You might be giving yourself a hard time and drinking more coffee and staying locked at your desk in the hope you will breakthrough. 

But concentrating harder, caffeinating harder and berating yourself harder isn’t the solution. In fact, it’s likely to have the opposite effect. So take a moment to breathe, be kind to yourself, and take a new approach.

Here are some useful and effective strategies on how to overcome study blocks:

1) Step Away

That’s right! Step away from your desk, put down the pen, and close the door behind you. Before you can tackle any more work, you need to have a mental refresh. Your mind is telling you that something is off, so before you try and use it – it’s time to hit the reset button by changing your surroundings, routine and perspective. 

2) Take Care Of Your Body & Mind

To hit that reset button, you need to take some time to switch off and go deeper within yourself. That doesn’t mean necessarily sitting on the couch and watching TV, which would perhaps be avoiding the issue entirely or pushing it down deeper. Instead prioritise meditation, quality time with friends & family, getting outdoors, getting creative, getting organised, eating nourishing food, getting good quality sleep & lots of hydration. These will allow you to think more clearly, and begin to approach the mental block you are facing with a fresh head. 

The Incubation Period

Stepping away like this is actually backed by science! If you step away from a project and clean the house, pay some bills, or take a nap – you just might experience a spark of genius as the solution seems to magically come to you. This is called the incubation period. Research shows that those who used an incubation period before making decisions actually made wiser choices too.

3) Write To Yourself

Once you feel fresher and have a new perspective, you can begin to perhaps write down some thoughts around your block, examining where the root cause may lie and what limiting beliefs are holding you back. Write a letter to yourself about what you are experiencing and why, then end with some positive statements that counteract any negative thought patterns. For example:

  • I can do hard things
  • Failure is the first step towards success
  • I am enough just as I am
  • You’ve got this!

You could even stick these up around your room or home as little reminders throughout the day.

4) Change The Environment

Instead of returning straight back to your desk and feeling the same sense of stuckness setting back in, switch things up to start fresh. So move your study spot to somewhere new. Move to another part of your house, go into the garden, or even venture to an outdoor space or café nearby. 

Even if this is just a temporary solution, you can trick your brain into feeling excited, energised and focused by simply changing your study environment to bring novelty to the material.  

5) Make A Plan

The most useful thing you can do for any feeling of overwhelm is to break a seemingly large problem or task down into tiny manageable steps. Make a list of all the things you have to do in relation to your studying, starting with the easiest first and slowly progressing forward. It can be useful to set some gentle deadlines for each step also, to create a positive association and sense of achievement – ticking off those little tasks until suddenly you’ve completed the larger task.

As part of this plan, you could try incorporating a new routine that includes both focused study time with minimal distractions, as well as downtime to keep your energy and motivation high. Remember that working too much will be just as inefficient as working too little. So ensure you keep your time balanced to allow for better productivity.

6) Embrace Flexible Study 

If you find that conventional studying leads you to feel frustrated and fatigued, why not try Learning Online? 

We built our range of courses with accessibility, affordability and wellbeing in mind. Because we know that everyone learns differently and approaches progress in different time frames. So with 24/7 access and full tutor support – you can learn when it suits your new routine and we’ll be with you every step of the way. To help with any worries, queries or blocks you find come your way.

Feel free to reach out to our friendly team, who will be more than happy to help talk you through your options, and how we can help you make those next steps confidently.

How to conquer study block infographic

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