The Exam Season #2 Stop Scrolling

If you have finished your exams, that’s fantastic. If not, then things are hotting up. You are looking for distractions. And what could be better than social media. It’s instant, its easy and its free.

Are you a social media addict?

Let’s be honest. If you are not a social media addict, you suspect you might be spending a bit too much time tweeting, posting or chatting online.

Many of you are on study leave and having to structure your own days. So how can you control your habit?

Take a guess at how much time you spend scrolling, liking, commenting, retweeting, sending photos and looking at cute memes of cats and dogs doing daft things. Now calculate the percentage that isn’t actually purposeful. Mindless scrolling, commenting on issues you don’t even care about, engaging in a discussion thread that’s going nowhere.

But its exam season. And time needs to be spent productively.

Studying can have its moments of enjoyment but it requires sustained attention and focus. It requires planning; some discipline; a lot of repetition. You are looking at the same content over and over again. If it’s a subject you love, that might not be too bad. If it’s a subject you hate, the temptation to do something else… anything else… is huge.

You think. I’ll just check my Instagram account? I’ll just tweet what I’m doing? And then like an addict, you are hooked. What can you do?

Delete all your social media accounts during the run up to exams? Seems drastic but its an option. If social media is embedded in your life, and the way you generally connect with friends or family, that may not be an option.

Recent studies show that younger people can spend up to 9 hours on their phones. That’s a big chunk out of the day. And a serious amount of lost study time.

Options you can consider but you’ll find your own solutions.

There’s no rocket science with these thoughts, but I hope it gives you a starting point.

  • It sounds so obvious, but switch of your phone for your planned study periods.

  • Second best is turn off all notifications and put your phone on Do Not Disturb when planning to study.

  • Add social media into your study schedule. Make specific times to check your phone, but only if you know you’ll have the discipine to turn it off again.

  • Study somewhere where you can structure your time better. That may be at home at the kitchen table, or in the local school library. It may be in your room, in a park, at a friend’s. But aim to choose somewhere you either can’t use your phone, or where you can leave your phone outside of your study space (if you are studying in the kitchen, leave it in your bedroom; if in your bedroom, leave it in the kitchen).

  • Notify friends by social media that you will turn your phone on at a given time in the morning, and let them know the time when you will turn it off.

  • Agree with your friends when you will be on social media, and when you will turn it off. If you agree when you will do this together, it will be so much easier for all of you. If your closest friends are not on social media, it’s frankly less interesting or engaging to be on it yourself.

  • You may have a lunchtime slot, and an evening slot. If you are the sort of person who once you start, can’t stop, only turn your phone on in the evening. You can set your phone to accept calls from close family and friends in case of an emergency.

  • Create a ritual around your social media time – a drink, a coffee, a snack. Make it relaxing and engaging.

  • Avoid controversial sites or people. Mute tweets, or block individuals, as soon as you see something you don’t like to avoid the temptation to give a piece of your mind to a particularly obnoxious individual.

  • Recognise that social media is addictive. It has no obvious ‘stop’ point so you have to create one. Set an alarm to tell you when its time to turn it off.

  • If you are at home with your parents or guardians while you are studying, then give them permission to take your phone away for periods.

I am a Solution Focused Hypnotherapy. I see many young people who suffer from anxiety, much of it caused by Social Media. Not just the content, cyberbullying, or distressing communications. They are stressed by the fact of it. Why hasn’t my friend replied? I must just check my social media? And the constant ping, ping, ping of information coming at them from all angles.

Your mind cannot mulit-task

This is the big neuroscience take away. Your mind cannot multi-task. No-one can multi-task. Not even your mum. It’s a myth. Your agile, quick mind may be able to skip from one thing to another quickly, but the brain can only process one thing at a time. By trying to study and follow your social media, you are decreasing the effectiveness of your study time. Do one thing at a time. And do it well.

So you have to make a decision that social media, and indeed your phone, are not going to dominate your life, determine your happiness or unhappiness or interfere with your plans and ambitions.

Remember, young minds are hugely plastic and developing connections all the time. So the habits you set down now, will be harder to break as time goes by.

If you are having serious issues with your phone and social media, and you feel they are contributing to your mental ill health, see professional advice, or a trained and accredited hypnotherapist or CBT specialist (both are effective but it’s a question of preference) and get help.

Your brains are wired, like a hunter gatherer, for anxiety and vigilance, Choose to be the master of your phonel don’t let your phone be your master.

You can choose to fritter away valuable study time gossiping about nothing, following the antics of the Kardashians or arguing about something that won’t matter in ten years time; or you can focus on your studies, know you have your exams your very best shot, and be proud of your achievements for the rest of your life.

You can choose whether to stop scrolling and start studying today.

* * *

A considerable percentage of my clients are teenagers and young adults and I know that easing anxiety is not always as easy as a walk in the park!

I have developed my six week one-on-one courses (6 for the price of 5) focusing on managing and reducing anxiety through the exam season. I can also offer one off relaxation sessions, Solution Focused Brief Therapy and Hypnotherapy, NLP and study skills sessions at The Wellbeing Clinic, Headington. Student rates are £45 an hour.

My first consulation is always free, so if you are suffering from anxiety, during the exam season or in general, I can help. The results with your young plastic minds can be dramatic!

I am now offering Skype sessions within normal UK hours on Mondays and Thursdays, or by arrangement, and I work out of the The Wellbeing Clinic in Headington on Wednesdays. I also have a Clinic, by arrangement, in Wheatley, Oxford.

Photo: (c) austin distel @ Unsplash