This section has been designed so that the library can be a learning device for both staff and students. We aimed to capture some of the different techniques that the interviewed students use and that they believe help with wellbeing within the learning environment. As a disclaimer, these techniques are not the sole solution to improving student wellbeing, more serious cases will need to be addressed with a more structured help. For these cases, speaking to a personal tutor or the making an appointment with Wellbeing Services would be our prime recommendation. However, if a number of these 'pedagogies' are utilised, a more wellbeing-positive learning experience can be fostered.
Personal Study Tips
Reward upon completion of task
- This pedagogy or study technique is based around the positive reinforcement for your efforts, successful work or the completion of certain tasks. This can be something small such as a bit of food, a conversation with a friend, some television or just some time out. The reward is subjective to the individual, but the idea is to be satisfied with work you have completed and provide a deserved and appropriate system that reinforces a positive work ethic.
- According to a recent study people who received immediate, frequent rewards for completing small tasks reported more interest and more enjoyment in their work, compared with people who received delayed rewards only given out at the end of a long project.
- What’s more, they also found that those same people, particularly when they started receiving frequent rewards early on in their workload, remained interested and engaged in their tasks even after the rewards were removed, suggesting a lasting positive effect between rewards or positive reinforcement and performance or job satisfaction.
'Forest: Stay focused' App
- This app is designed to stop procrastination during study time by training people to manage their time and become less dependent on their phones in a fun, purposeful way. From spending time away from their phone and avoiding social media or other apps, users grow virtual trees which die if you leave the app. The Forest team partners with a real-tree-planting organization, Trees for the Future, to plant real trees on Earth in five countries in Africa — Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, and Tanzania.
- The more you stay on the app, the more trees are planted and the less distracted you are. Click here to learn more about the app and download from either Google Play or the App Store.
Breaks from work
- Managing workload can be a really difficult part of being a student which can have detrimental impacts on wellbeing. One solution to this is to manage your breaks in a positive and constructive manner that is condusive to your workload, health and social life. There are a few techniques that can help you be conscious of these different aspects of your life. Such as arranging to have a coffee break or lunch with friends around your work. This can give you something to look forward to and encourage a more productive time at your desk rather than constantly distracting yourself with nearby friends. This also helps promote a real-life element to your working day. For example, this could help you treat your studying like a nine-to-five job!
- This second tactic can be done with peers or by yourself, which is the idea of taking walks around campus as a way to break up your time studying. There are some beautiful spots around campus such as heronbank and tocil lake/forest. These are ideal locations to get some space from the classroom or library and recharge the batteries before going again.
- This last one is a method to be more efficient with the time you spend at your desk. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method, developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks, commonly 5 minutes. Each interval is known as a pomodoro, from the Italian word for 'tomato', after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student. Simply search 'Pomodoro Technique' into either an app store or on your internet browser, then do your best to stay focused for the intervals you select, then enjoy the breaks when they come!
Summarise each topic from each week
- This method is very simple and is especially relevant for students that have end of year exams. The idea is to make sure your notes are up to date by each week. Often a week at university constitutes a topic within a module. That means if you make notes on each week as they pass, you will have compartmentalised all the different topics and have an organised and methodical set of notes which will alleviate the stress and workload at the end of year. This period is highly stressful for students and often causes a higher frequency of wellbeing related issues, in preparing properly, it can go a very long way.
Study Happy Programme
- The Study Happy Team supports students wanting to make the most of their time at the University of Warwick. We organise social, cultural and wellbeing-focused events in study spaces, and help you get in touch with expert services on campus.
- The services range from pop-up sport sessions such as Yoga classes, to dog-therapy sessions. To keep up to date to the study happy calender, please click on this link which can give you more of an oversight about the opportunities and services that they provide.
Maintaining a routine
- Research has consistently shown that routines can play an important role in mental health. One study, for example, found that routines could help people better manage stress and anxiety. Having a regular routine can help you: (i) Lower stress levels. (ii) Form good daily habits. (iii) Take better care of your health. (iv) Help you feel more productive. (v) Help you feel more focused.
- Getting necessary tasks out of the way can also help you find more time for healthy behaviors like exercise and leave you more time to enjoy fun activities and hobbies.
- Other important tips are maintaining a lot of exercise, which produce endorphins in the brain that can have a positive effect on mood. Also, drinking enough water while your working is extremely necessary.
- "Stop feeling sorry for yourself", we are often told. And while it can be hard to avoid self-pity entirely, mentally strong people choose to exchange self-pity for gratitude. This can be mediated through the use of a gratitude journal. The idea being that you take around 5 minutes every day to write down various different things in your life you are grateful for. This can be friends, family, sport, music, food, literally anything you want it to be.
- Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy , found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder.
- A very simple strategy, keeping a to-do list is one of many ways to stay ontop of your work, but also a very good way of ensuring that no important jobs slip through the net. Another method is to set constant reminders, this can be using your phone or leaving little post-it notes around that list all of your tasks and responsibilities.
A4 Week Planner
- On a similar note, an A4 week planner was mentioned by multiple interviewed students as a method that they have employed to stay organised and to map out their responsibilities.
- It might seem very simple, but this is a very good habit to get into. It can help you organise your workload for studying, your appointments and meetings, while ensuring that everything is kept in one place to lead a generally more organised life at university.
Smart clothes for motivation
- Inevitably, students will encounter dips in motivation. One student has a technique to combat this; by getting dressed in smart clothes in the morning, it can be a way of combatting this dip in motivation. Sometimes looking and acting professional can help an individual feel professional. Although this is not directly associated with an individual's wellbeing, it is a valuable method that can help with motivation and contribute towards a more organised lifestyle.
- Self-reflection is a key thing to explore with content from lessons or modules that don't obviously associate with real-life settings. This way you can contextualise your education and help draw important lessons for yourself and to discuss with your peers. The interviewee cited that they muse over theories and principles or arguments in seminars that they can draw comparisons to and self-reflect in a way that is relevant for life.
- Volunteering is a great way to embed yourself in the university culture and contribute towards a positive mindset. This can be done either around campus as a student ambassador, introducing the campus to interested or incoming students and their families. Or, in between years at university to gain real life skills and engage in other areas of life.
Create reading groups
- Organising to meet up with colleagues and other members of a class or seminars to discuss seminar content or assessments is a great way to improve social intgration within the learning environment. This tactic can help you gain a perspective of what’s required for a given assignment, as things can easily be misinterpreted or lost in translation, which can mean a grade disproportionately representing a student’s efforts or knowledge. Also, it can help you understand that you’re working at the same pace as other people or to use them as a reference for the pace of the classroom.
Organise regular tutor meetings
- Organising tutor meetings for direction or signposting to services can be highly beneficial for a student's wellbeing. Even just to keep them up to date with your experiences and progress, it's good to stay connected to the department. However, if there is a teacher you have grown a rapport with then seeking advice from them is also highly useful.
Remind yourself you’re at Warwick
This is a quote from one of the interview students which is a really nice comment about the stress that some students have a propencity to put on themselves. Thinking about things with this perspective can help you realise that how proud you should be to be attending a university such as Warwick.
"There’s the whole thing that comparison can be the thief of joy. Whereas we are part of a ‘clever’ bubble, and the pressures in this bubble aren’t real. Not that it doesn’t matter, but there’s a perfect sweet spot which can help alleviate the pressure."