Dealing with Procrastination and Anxiety
Heading back to school can be one of the most exciting times in a student’s life. After all, you are getting the chance to continue your education, and perhaps earn a degree or course credit. But going back to school, whether you are attending a traditional institution or an online school, can sometimes be quite nerve wracking. In particular, many students find that they have to face two of their worst enemies: procrastination and anxiety.
Though few of us like to admit it, we have all been guilty of procrastinating at some point in our lives. Most of us will put off until tomorrow what should be done today, even if it is in our best interests to complete a certain task. Students are particularly vulnerable to procrastination, and this can lead to major challenges when it comes to getting those assignments completed or those tests studied for.
What Causes Procrastination?
You may recognize that you are a major procrastinator, but do you know why you are constantly putting things off? Few of us are actually aware of the reasons why we procrastinate. We may believe that we are just too lazy to get a head start on that assignment or that we would just rather watch television, but procrastination usually has some underlying causes. Common causes of student procrastination include:
- Fear: Many students find that they procrastinate out of fear. Students often worry that an upcoming task will be too challenging for them, and that they will be unable to complete this task successfully. This fear can really compel you to put an assignment off until the last minute.
- Perfectionism: Other students find that they procrastinate out of a desperate need for perfectionism. You may be worried that you will not be able to maintain your level of success on a certain assignment, or you may get so bogged down in minor details that you just don’t seem to make any progress.
- Need for Pressure: Some people actually thrive on pressure and will do anything to create such a situation in which to work. These people put off assignments and tests until the last possible minute.
Consequences of Procrastination
Unfortunately, procrastination often has a number of negative consequences, both for you and for those who have to live with you! If you procrastinate you run the risk of:
- handing assignments in late
- doing a less-than-acceptable job on assignments
- being unprepared for tests and examinations
- not completing assignments at all
Dealing with Procrastination
If you are finding that procrastination is becoming a problem for you, it is important to take action as quickly as possible. Here are some tips that will help you put an end to your procrastination problems.
- Engage in proper time management. Make a list of all of the assignments, tests, and examinations you have coming up so you know what to prepare for.
- Prioritize these tasks, according to due date or complexity. It is often better to do all of the harder tasks first, to prevent putting them off in favor of simpler tasks.
- Set goals for yourself. Divide larger goals up into a series of smaller, more achievable steps.
- Create a list of all the excuses you use to procrastinate. Be ready to contend with these excuses by motivating yourself with positive statements.
- Reward yourself for every goal that you achieve. Try buying yourself a new outfit or watching your favorite television show.
Like procrastination, anxiety is also extremely common amongst the student population. Most of the time, anxiety motivates us into action; however, when severe, anxiety can make it difficult to perform even the simplest of tasks. This can result in some real problems when it comes to completing school assignments and tasks.
The first step in dealing with anxiety is recognizing its symptoms. Anxiety often triggers:
- feelings of fear and nervousness
- excessive sweating or shakiness
- nausea and diarrhea
- heart palpitations and breathing difficulties
At its most severe, anxiety can bring on anxiety attacks (also known as panic attacks), during which you may experience a real sense of impending doom or fear.
Causes of Student Anxiety
Student anxiety can be the result of a variety of different issues. Common causes of student anxiety include:
- upcoming tests or examinations
- worries about performance (performance anxiety)
- poor preparation
- balancing school commitments with work and family-related commitments
Consequences of Student Anxiety
When severe, anxiety can really have a negative impact on your school performance as well as your overall health. Anxiety is often linked to:
- poor grades
- poor performances on tests and exams
- poor nutrition and eating habits
- addictive behaviors (such as drug and alcohol abuse)
Dealing with Anxiety
If anxiety is becoming a real problem for you, it is important that you take the right measures to deal with it:
- Prepare Ahead Of Time: Lack of preparation can be one of the leading causes of anxiety. Plan to study well ahead of all tests and examinations. Prepare a list of all the tasks that you need to complete so you are aware of all of your commitments well ahead of time.
- Think Positively: Anxiety is often the result of negative thinking. Before tests and exams remind yourself of your strengths. This will help to boost your performance levels. Do not become consumed with mistakes or poor performances.
- Take Care of Yourself: Be sure that you take the time to take care of your own personal health and wellbeing. Try to maintain a nutritious diet and work to get in some form of exercise everyday. This will help to relieve stress and anxiety. Also be sure to get enough sleep every night. Busy students will need at least 8 hours sleep to feel their best.
- Talk with Others: If your anxiety is becoming difficult to manage, speak with a counselor about your feelings. Most traditional, distance learning, and online schools offer counseling services for their students. These counselors can help you deal directly with your anxiety.