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Ways to Cope Through Academic Struggles

Last updated October 31, 2023

Struggling academically in high school or college can be a frustrating and challenging experience, but it's important to remember that it doesn't define you as a person. Whether you're dealing with burnout, a learning disability, a difficult subject, or a lack of motivation, there are strategies and resources you can use to keep hope alive and move forward toward academic success.

A young black man sits at his desk. A laptop computer sits in front of him. He is smiling and reading a book - Ways to Cope Through Academic Struggles

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Take care of yourself so you can take care of the work

Prioritizing your social and emotional wellness is so important! Taking care of your mental health is crucial when you're feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, as well as taking care of your physical needs like getting enough sleep, eating well, and moving your body as often as you can.

Here are a few tips that can help your body be better positioned to process stressful situations:

  1. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid sugary drinks.
  2. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
  3. Limit processed foods and fast food.
  4. Get enough sleep each night to allow your body to rest and recover.
  5. Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes each day to improve your overall health.

Find time for rest, recovery, and joy

Taking time to engage in hobbies or activities that you enjoy, and connecting with family and friends who support you are also ways to help you feel a bit more grounded, especially during times when you feel challenged.

Mindfulness activities are a great tool to deploy when you’re feeling stressed or burnt out. Try some of these practices to help build and maintain resiliency:

  1. Practice meditation or deep breathing exercises daily to calm your mind and reduce stress.
  2. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Acknowledge them, but don't dwell on them.
  3. Stay present in the moment by focusing on your senses. Take in the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations around you.
  4. Engage in activities that bring you joy and help you stay present, such as listening to music, going for a walk, or practicing a hobby.
  5. Practice gratitude by reflecting on things you are thankful for and journaling about them each day.

Stress is normal, but that doesn’t mean you have to struggle through it

Everyone handles stress differently, so it's important to identify healthy coping mechanisms that work for you. Some people find relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga helpful, while others prefer to listen to music or journal their thoughts and feelings.

Here are a few stress management tips that could help you when academic pressures are high:

  1. Identify the sources of your stress and develop strategies to address them.
  2. Take breaks throughout the day to engage in relaxing activities, such as reading a book or taking a walk.
  3. Use positive self-talk to encourage and motivate yourself.
  4. Develop a support network of family and friends you can talk to when you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
  5. Break the work into small approachable tasks rather than trying to tackle everything at once.

Never be afraid to ask for help!

It’s important to recognize when it's time to reach out for help. If you're struggling academically, don't be afraid to ask for supportive services or accommodations if you need them, talk to your professors, academic advisor, or counselor about your concerns, or seek out tutoring or academic coaching services. Remember, there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. If you have a learning disability or face other academic challenges, don't hesitate to ask for accommodations that can help you succeed. Whether it's extra time on tests, access to assistive technology, or a quiet study space, there are resources available to support you.

It can also be helpful to understand what kind of learner you are. Everyone learns differently, so it's important to identify your preferred learning style. Some people are visual learners, while others prefer hands-on or auditory learning. Once you know your learning style, you can tailor your study habits and strategies to fit your needs.

Watch out for burnout

When you're feeling overwhelmed, it can be easy to push yourself too hard and end up burning out, or not having the time, energy, or motivation to take care of important tasks. Make sure you're taking regular breaks throughout the day and prioritize the self-care activities that are important to you.

Remember, academic struggles don't define your worth or your future. With the right support and strategies, you can overcome challenges and achieve your goals. Keep hope alive, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Any questions? Click here to text one of our college advisors!

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