9 Good Study Habits to Be Mentally and Physically Healthy

Carbon Health Editorial Team
September 9, 2022
10 Min

Most students are already well aware that good study habits lead to better academic performance. Yet these habits aren’t just important for your academics. By committing to an effective routine, you’ll find yourself feeling mentally and physically better. 

Indeed, poor study habits can lead to stress, exhaustion, depression, and many other disruptive conditions. This can also cause significant stress on your body, with conditions like ulcers and high blood pressure common amongst individuals under serious stress.

If you follow the tips outlined below for effective study habits, you will have the capacity to study in a way that’s conscious of your health. We’ll discuss how you can find strategies to develop new study habits, improve existing ones, and the benefits this can have on both your academics and your personal life. 

4 Tips for A Health-Conscious Lifestyle

Before you even begin developing a study routine, ask yourself: am I taking good care of my body and spirit? 

You can spend all night cramming for an exam, but without a good night’s rest and nutritious breakfast, you’ll likely do poorly the next day. You can spend hours proofreading an essay for mistakes, but without taking time for breaks and hydration, your mind will struggle to catch them.

Whether you’re a high-school or college student, taking care of yourself is foundational to supporting any good study habits. Neglecting to do so will come at the expense of not just your grades, but also your mental and physical health.

Some important tips for a healthy lifestyle are:

1. Get your Nutrients 

The stress of exam season makes it tempting to comfort eat. Whether your guilty pleasure is sugary iced coffee from your favorite chain or a chocolate candy from the store, it’s okay to indulge yourself now and then.

But that key word is moderation. Your body needs fuel to run. Not getting important nutrients can affect your mood, your energy levels, and your cognitive abilities. This can even impact your ability to learn and retain new information, which could be catastrophic come exam season!

Be vigilant about what you eat. If you’re gonna have a burger for dinner, limit yourself to a moderate portion, and order a salad instead of fries on the side. Try your best to eat a balanced range of dishes throughout the day: vegetables, proteins, oils, dairy carbs, and fruits are all important for the body!

And it’s not just about what you eat, but when and how much too. Breakfast is very important for school, yet many students neglect it. Even a boiled egg or banana can do wonders for your health. Meanwhile, eating too much, even something healthy like salad can leave you feeling bloated. Remember: all in moderation!

If you’re not sure what you should be eating, Carbon Health has a few recommendations for a better breakfast. We also endorse the Mediterranean diet as an effective foundation for healthy eating: you can read more about that here! But remember: before making any big changes to your diet, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional. Everybody is different!

2. Exercise

Sitting in a chair all day is gonna leave you feeling lethargic and sore! Daily exercise rejuvenates the body and spirit. By staying in good shape, you'll have more energy and will in general just feel better. This will affect your energy levels, your focus, and your ability to retain information.

Carbon Health specialist Laura Sharp points out that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore:  “The best exercise is the one you enjoy: gardening, running with your dog, push-ups. It doesn’t have to be at a gym — it could be walking around the block.”

3. Sleep Well  

Research has repeatedly proven the benefits of a good night’s rest. A study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis discovered that, on average, students with healthy sleep patterns achieved 12% higher grades than those with irregular sleep patterns. 

What is a healthy sleep pattern? It’s more than just having enough sleep time -getting the standard eight hours of rest a night. You should establish a regular schedule for your body to rely on. Have a set bedtime, and a set time to wake up. This allows your body’s Circadian rhythm to run without interruption. Waking up prematurely can disrupt your internal clock. Not only does this leave you tired, but it can even leave you more susceptible to disease and depression. 

We also have some friendly tips for getting a better rest each night, like keeping water nearby so you don’t have to walk to the kitchen, or avoiding screen time for at least an hour before bed. Check out the linked article for more information!

4. Don’t Forget Your Mental Health

When we think of our health, we often think of our physical bodies. Things like blood pressure, our weight, our eyesight.

Certainly, all those things are very important factors to your health. But you can’t neglect your mental health either! It’s normal for people’s mental health to suffer in times of stress, like when you’re studying for a big exam.

If you don’t take care of your mental health, you run the risk of developing burnout [TK link to burnout article]. Burnout can be a major drag on your grades, so be vigilant when it comes to taking care of yourself. 

Carbon Health care specialists have advice for prioritizing yourself for those who have been putting their wellness on the back burner. If you think you may be in need of professional help, check out this piece for different kinds of therapy that may be of benefit to you.

Good Study Habits

Once you’re rested, fed, and hydrated, you’re ready to dive into studying! Check out some of the study tips below for how you can develop and maintain effective study habits. 

1. Establish A Good Spot For Your Study Sessions

First and foremost, you want to find a good place to hunker down and study. It should be comfortable for you. If it’s hot and sweltering, or the desk is cramped and leaves you sore, then you’re gonna struggle to focus. 

You want an area with good lighting so that your eyes aren’t strained. Windows can provide natural lighting and help you feel less claustrophobic, but you should avoid facing them while studying. It’s easy to get distracted by what’s going on outside!

Most importantly, your spot should be quiet with minimal interruptions. Noise or people passing through will break your focus, interrupt your study session, and prevent you from properly absorbing information. Lots of people have busy or crowded homes, so it might be best to travel to a library, park, or a friend’s house if you can’t find peace and quiet at home. Besides, forming a study group or working from a coffee shop may help you set up the right tone.

However, while you want to find the best workspace possible, at the end of the day you might have to settle for less than the ideal. An imperfect spot is preferable to not studying at all!

2. Develop A Study Schedule

Once you’ve got some good spots in mind, the next step is to develop a regular schedule for your study time: when and how often to study. Try to build a routine here. Maybe you’ll start with Math, take a fifteen-minute break, then move on to English.

What’s important is that you develop a habit that becomes second nature. This helps ensure that you study the right materials for the right amount of time every day. Life can be dynamic, so at times you might need to switch up your schedule or dedicate more time to a particular project. Having a set schedule will make handling these sorts of fluctuations easier.

3. Avoid Distractions

A quiet spot will do wonders to help you avoid distractions during your study sessions, but noise and other people aren’t the only things to watch out for! Having a TV playing while you study might be fun, but it’s going to constantly break your focus. Your phone might tell the time, but the constant dings of texts and notifications will draw you away from studying. It may be tempting to check your social media profiles. Keep these sorts of distractions out of sight and away from your study space.

If you find yourself using your phone too often, consider an app like the Forest application. This locks your phone for a set duration of time, and while you study, a little tree grows on your phone! Not only does this keep you from using your phone, but you’ll grow a full forest over time from regular studying. You’ll grow a sense of accomplishment from seeing a visual representation of the time you’ve spent studying.

4. Keep Track 

Trying to juggle deadlines and commitments in your head is a recipe for disaster. You don’t want to overschedule or only remember an exam the day before the exam; in this sense, having to write an essay at the last minute can be quite stressful.

Use a calendar or journal to keep track of your schoolwork and daily routine: what you need to do and when you need to do it. Also, schedule study times accordingly; time management is the recipe for a successful student. You can even use a calendar on your laptop or phone if you prefer.

5. Establish S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S.M.A.R.T. Goals are a mental checklist that experts recommend when developing your goals and expectations. Unachievable or over-zealous goals can leave you feeling demotivated, burnt out, and unfulfilled. 

  • Specific: Have a clearly outlined goal, with an obvious endgame. This is not a complete plan of action, but more like a summation of what you want to achieve. You may want to use the W questions (Who, What, Where, When, Why, Which) to help:

                             - Who needs to be involved to complete this goal? What are you                         trying to accomplish? Where can you best complete this                         goal? When does it need to be done? Why does it need to be                         done? And which ways will get it done, and which things will                         stand in the way of getting it done?

  • Measurable: When creating goals, you want something tangible, something measurable, that you’re aspiring to reach. It could be a particular word count or a set number of pages. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a number, but if your progress is something that can be measured, you’ll have an easier time keeping track and meeting your goals.
  • Achievable: Factor in how realistic it is that you’ll meet your goal. Are there any changes you might need to make to accomplish your goal? If you normally only read 1 page a week, you won’t finish a 500-page book by the end of the school year. Adjusting your habits may be necessary.
  • Relevant: Your goal should be relevant to what you’re trying to achieve. Reviewing your notes for a biology exam is a good way to study, watching Discovery Channel is not. Build your goals around your responsibilities and duties, and you’ll have relevant goals.
  • Time-bound: Your goals should have a set deadline to avoid procrastination and complacency. By holding yourself to a schedule, you’ll have more motivation to complete what needs to be done before it’s too late.

As important as your grades are, your health is essential. Good grades don’t matter if you crash and burn from the stress! Using the study tips and tricks listed above can help you develop healthy study plans so that you can be a successful and happy student.

Remember: all of us struggle now and then. It’s very common for people to get burnt out, depressed or anxious in times of stress. If you find yourself in crisis, resources are available. 

Carbon Health is here to help you connect to medical professionals who can help you work through your problems. 

Check out our repository on mental health for more information.

Carbon Health Editorial Team

The Carbon Health Editorial Team is a group of writers, content creators, and thought leaders who are here to empower you to take charge of your health.

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