Tips for studying and concentration when you have a mental illness...

Studying can be stressful at the best of times but when you have a mental illness it can be really difficult. You already have to contend with lack of concentration, poor memory, and fatigue. Since starting university I have found a few things help, so here are my tips...

Burn citrus candles
It may sound silly but citrus is known as an uplifting scent. I always burn a citrus candle when I am sat at my laptop essay writing and it really helps me to stay focused (and awake!)

Create a work area
Have a clear work space set aside specifically for studying. A desk equipped with all the pens and notebooks you need, any textbooks and minimal distractions. I find I definitely work better when I am sat at my desk rather than when I decide to try reading my text books somewhere else.

Establish a sleep routine
This is so important to mental health, regardless of whether you are a student or not but getting a good nights sleep improves your concentration, mood, and will mean you will find it easier to be more productive. Getting into the routine of having a set bed time and get up time will help hugely.

Take regular breaks and don't do too much at once
Ensuring you take regular breaks will help stop your concentration from waning as well as keeping you motivated. Set some goals and then whenever you reach one reward yourself with a break- maybe 20 minutes on Twitter or a couple of videos on YouTube.

It's important not to put too much pressure on yourself or you could risk feeling demotivated and will end up not getting much done. Some days I have brain fog and know I won't be able to concentrate so will do something else and go back to studying the next day. There's no point wasting a day sat staring at a computer screen and getting nowhere.

Eat some fruit
Try snacking on food high in energy like fruit. Something like a banana, some seeds, dried fruit or a smoothie will help your concentration. I also require a LOT of coffee to keep me awake!

Make time for something you enjoy
Don't get in the habit of working constantly- it will bring your mood down and you won't work as well. Make sure you set time specifically for self care and doing things you like. Reading, having a bath, going for a walk, seeing friends etc...

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