How Do I Motivate Myself To Study? - SACAP
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How do I Motivate Myself to Study?

Sep 19, 2023 | By Saranne Durham
Study Motivation in the Library at SACAP
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There are numerous reasons why you might be unable to find motivation to study. Motivation is impacted by various factors. The great news is these factors can be managed and in doing so you can boost your motivation as well as your study success rate. These 5 factors are within your control and can help you feel more motivated to study.

1. Understand Study Distractions

A lack of focus eats away at your motivation to study. Thus, understanding how to focus starts with knowing what distracts you and then minimising these distractions. There are two types of distractions to be aware of, internal and external distractions. Four common external study distractions are noise, clutter or untidy study areas, technology and being overwhelmed by a workload (last-minute studying).  Eight common internal distractions are, personal concerns, issues at home, daydreaming and low attention span, learning difficulties, lack of interest or motivation and lack of clearly defined goals.

5 Steps to Decreasing Distractions

  1. Understand when you’re most awake and energetic so that you can study during these times.
  2. Set personal study goals so that you know what you are aiming to do. They need to be specific, achievable, relevant and timebound (SMART).
  3. Create a dedicated, comfortable, and organised study environment. This helps to signal to your brain that it’s time to focus.
  4. Manage your time by drawing up a study timetable that organises your studies into smaller manageable chunks. These need to be planned according to deadlines. Additionally, outline when you start and finish studying each day. Build in short regular breaks that include enough time to eat meals, exercise, do chores and connect with others.
  5. Allow yourself to ask questions and get the answers so that you understand rather than parrot learn work.

2. Manage Stress

Exam and test anxiety is natural but it can also cause you not to be able to study or perform optimally. This is because stress hormones can negatively affect your concentration, memory, and overall performance during an exam. Managing stress successfully can help increase your motivation to study.

5 Ways to Buffer Stress

  1. Practise positive self-talk, thereby squishing that internal voice that brings you down. 
  2. Use relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness, to help calm yourself and enable better focus.
  3. Take regular breaks to prevent mental fatigue. This assists in stopping things from becoming overwhelming and further decreases potential stress levels. 
  4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, by eating healthily, exercising, and getting enough good quality sleep.
  5. Take a minute to appreciate what you’ve got. By being in an attitude of gratitude you can shift yourself into a more positive space.

” Amidst the storm of exams, find solace in your breath.
Inhale Courage.
Exhale Doubt.”

Dr Diana De Sousa

3. Pay Attention to Nutrition

Our bodies need energy to do things. Having the energy to do something helps to boost your motivation as you physically feel like you can tackle something. Therefore, regular eating is important. Furthermore, what you’re eating impacts your cognitive ability. During study and exam periods, our brains and nervous systems work overtime. Thus, they need to be fuelled with enough good quality and healthy food to be able to function. For example, to be able to focus while studying and then have good recall during an exam. 

Some foods that support good cognitive functioning are oily fish such as mackerel, pilchards, herring, and anchovies. Or alternatively, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Additionally, berries, cocoa and avocado are great to snack on to boost your memory and ability to concentrate. Eating vegetables and fruits will boost your intake of vitamins B, C and E. These have been shown to optimise brain functionality.

4. Stay Hydrated

Your brain comprises 85% water and uses twice the amount of energy that other body cells use. It relies on water to provide it with the necessary electrical energy to function. Dehydration can lead to several issues that can impact your motivation to study. For example, brain fog and fatigue, problems focusing, lack of attention, and feeling irritable and restless. Thus, in order to be able to motivate yourself to study, you need to stay well hydrated.

It’s tempting to reach for something a little tastier than water when studying. However, consuming drinks that are high in caffeine such as energy drinks, tea and coffee can be counterproductive. For example, they negatively impact sleep quality and can increase anxiety levels. It’s better to rather add flavouring to water with fruits or switch to decaffeinated drinks.

5. Keep Moving

Aside from decreasing stress and anxiety levels, keeping active can boost your mood and energy levels. Physical activity has also been shown to improve your memory and focus. Exercise doesn’t have to involve doing a sport; it can take the form of many things. For example, everyday activities such as cleaning your house or gardening keep you moving. What’s key is picking something to do that you enjoy and is manageable.

” Moving your body is a form of self-care. It’s not selfish; it’s essential.”

Happiness Mesi

While you can stay seated at your desk, studying for long stretches of time, is not advisable. During your scheduled breaks, walk around a little or stretch a bit. This will help boost your cerebral blood circulation which is important for healthy brain functioning. It will also help prevent you from getting stiff, having aching muscles and developing headaches. All of which will distract you and derail your motivation to study.

Understanding Motivation Factors

Sometimes a student needs extra support to help them stay motivated to study. If you’re interested in understanding more about human behaviours and how to motivate someone, investigate studying at SACAP. SACAP has an Applied Psychology faculty which offers a range of relevant courses and degrees. Make an appointment with an admissions officer to discover more about which SACAP qualification suits your interests best. Alternatively, apply online today!

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