Whether you are studying for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, sometimes unforeseen events may interfere with your ability to study. As we come into the winter months, coughs and sniffles may be an unfortunate reality that we may all need to overcome. After a recent bout of illness that caused me to take a short break from studying, I have put together five top tips for getting back on track.
1. Ask your classmates to share notes
This may be challenging, as asking others for help may feel like you are ‘burdening’ others. However, try to remember that we are all human, and I’m sure there will be a time when you will repay the favour. Also, I bet you get a warmer response than you think you will!
2. Reach out to your academic mentor/ staff on your programme.
Sometimes telling people that you are having a short break from your studies can be difficult, especially if you are someone, like myself, who finds it difficult to ask for help. But try to remember that no provisions can be put in place for you if no one knows what is going on. There may be online classes you can attend, or work your course staff can send you while you get rest. You won’t know if you don’t ask!
3. Set achievable goals when you return
When you return to studying after a break, make a list of the ‘priority tasks you need to complete. For example, if you have an assignment due, maybe make that number one. Writing a list can be really helpful as it will help you organise your work, and you can tick them off as you go, which can act as a visual reinforcement of all the great work you are doing!
4. Don’t rush
When you have to take a break from your studies, it may be tempting to dive back in and try to cram in as much as possible to catch up. Try to avoid this because you may end up burning out. Remember you took a break for a valid reason, and you can only do what you can do. Take your time and you will eventually catch up naturally.
5. Be kind to yourself
Try not to be too hard on yourself, which may be more challenging than it sounds. Take some time for you and do things that make you happy, as your mental health is just as important (if not more important) than any grade. Set out some time to take a long walk, a bubble bath or hang out with friends. You may feel that taking any time for yourself after a break would be a waste of time, but if you burn yourself out, this may eventually lead to more time off.
A break in your studies may seem detrimental at first, but if you reach out to peers and staff members, I think you will be surprised at the level of support you will receive. Remember, we are all human, and sometimes life just happens! This ‘set-back’ is not a reflection on your ability to be a student, so be kind to yourself. You are studying through a stressful and unprecedented time, so be proud of yourself, take a deep breath, and you can do this!