While studying habits do have a lot to do with who we are internally and how we approach certain tasks, there has been research that has shown that our external environment can actually affect the way we study and adapt certain behaviors. Before school starts again, it's probably a good idea to take a look at some of these factors so you can better evaluate your own way of maintaining grades.
1. Music/Background Noise
This has been highly debated when considering study habits — does music help or harm? Turns out that it mostly depends on the individual. However, it has been proven that music could actually be beneficial, especially in a very distracting environment. For example, listening to familiar background noise/music can actually help block out other voices that you would otherwise be hearing at a café, thus ensuring that you get the most out of your study.
Lighting has actually proven to affect how long we are able to stay focused and alert. A study has shown that those who study under artificial light tend to get significantly more tired and sleepy by night, while those who study with natural lighting still stay relatively alert in the evening. Next time, you should maybe try to study where there's a window and plenty of sunlight.
Turns out the actual physical space of your environment can also significantly impact how you study. Ceilings have actually proven to affect the way we approach studying. High ceilings in general promote activating "a network of structures in the brain that underlie visuospatial exploration or attention," whereas more closed-off spaces induce cortisol, the stress hormone.
You should never study in an area that is either too hot or too cold. If possible, find an area where you can frequently adjust the thermostat (it should be "cool") to keep your body from being too focused on either cooling itself down or heating itself up. If you're working at a library or any other space where you can't adjust the temperature, be sure to have a jacket or cold beverage to keep your body a steady temperature.
No, this doesn't mean that you should lay down on a couch and have your notebook held above your face. Rather, you should feel comfortable and at ease in the space that you're working in. Have a comfortable chair and a table that is raised at the perfect height to avoid any physical struggles when you're cramming for hours on end. Adjust your space depending on how you're feeling as well. If you start to feel sleepy, opt out for a slightly more stiff chair to keep yourself awake.
Next time you're studying and you can't seem to stay focused, try evaluating your surroundings. Sometimes, it's not you. It's them. Good luck!
Lead Image Credit: Jazmi Quaynor via Unsplash