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What to do when you hit a wall

by Amanda Collins

It can turn your mind into mush, have you staring at the same paragraph of information for hours without absorbing any of it, and suck the life out of you at the mere thought of a looming assignment: it’s the Study Wall.

Any person who has ever studied anything ever, will at some point, hit the Study Wall. So the question becomes, how do you drive through it and get back on track?

Well, the good news is there are a number of ways to dismantle the wall, and below we’ve laid them out for you to use whenever you feel yourself running out of steam.

studying tips

Find the fun

If you have been run off your feet balancing study, work and life, and are now finding it hard to focus or concentrate, it is likely that you have hit the wall due to burnout.

Your brain needs a break, it’s been working in overdrive.

Take a day or two off study. Do something fun: go to the movies or plan a dinner with friends. You need to unwind. Perhaps you could even book a massage or have a hot bath.

Once you have had a break you will find that the symptoms of the wall diminish and that you are back to full study capacity.

Where is your attention?

The things we focus our attention on can heavily influence our thoughts, actions and ultimately the direction of our lives.

Making the choice to focus on what you are learning, rather than your stress levels, the dirty dishes, what to eat for lunch, or whatever pops up to distract you, will make a huge difference to your study journey.

Focus is not something that happens overnight, it takes time and practice.

Whenever you find your attention wandering, bring it back to the here and the now: to the task in front of you. Eventually, you will find that you are more focused, and can remain so for longer. It’s a lifelong skill.

Do what you can

There’s a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”, and that is especially true for study.

If you can’t manage a whole hour, do 15 minutes. If reading a chapter is too much, then why not create your own dot-point summary, or start an assignment.

You don’t have to do it all at once, you just have to do something.

study now

Know where you’re headed

It’s easy to lose track of the big picture when you’re neck deep in study, life and stress.

To avoid hitting the wall, take time to remember why you are doing the course.

Focus on the outcome. You will get there.

Switch it up

Changing up what you are doing every hour or so will help to keep you stimulated and engaged in your study.

If you have been reading for an hour, why not create a little self-test for yourself, ask yourself questions about what you’ve just learned, walk around and say a summary of the chapter out loud, or you could start on an assignment. Whatever works for you.

Mix it up, it will really help your energy levels.

Short breaks

Your mind and your body need short breaks every hour or so to stay in top condition. So when you are studying, set an alarm to go off every 50 minutes. When the alarm goes off, get up, have a ten minute wander and a stretch, then get back to work.

Take small bites

You don’t have to do everything all at once. In fact, science suggests that people who break their study up into smaller chunks (say, one hour a day) may actually retain more information in the long run because they have time to process and digest information in between study sessions.


Deep breathing helps your muscles to relax, delivers a big shot of energy-giving oxygen into your blood, lowers blood pressure, assists blood flow, helps to relieve stress and also boosts mental clarity. What’s not to love?!

So when it’s all getting a bit much, lie down on the floor, or get into a comfortable chair and breathe deep for a few minutes.

If you’re in need of a good deep breathing exercise, have a read of this Time article.

Don’t listen to the lies

Your mind will try to convince you of many things during your lifetime, and one of the most common lies it will tell you is that “I can’t”.

And simply put, you absolutely can.

When your mind starts whispering the negatives, “It’s too hard”, “I can’t”, “I’ll never be able to do this”, recognise what’s happening. Know that none of those things are true.

You are more capable than you know, and you have strength that you can’t even begin to imagine.

When the lies begin, counter them with truths. “I can”, “I will”, “I will find a way to make this work”, “This is difficult but I will make it through”, “I’ve done hard things before, and I can do this”.

Get out in nature

A recent study has found a connection between walking in nature and a boost in brain power.

The study started off by giving two groups of people a tricky mental test. After the test, one group was sent off for a walk in the city, and the other group went for a walk on a nature trail.

When the groups returned, they were tested again, with the nature trail group performing an amazing 200% better than the group that went for a city walk.

So, if you’re struggling, head out to a local park, find a bush-walk, or just get out into the natural environment for an hour or so, then get back to work.

go for a walk

Don’t aim for perfect

You may have hit the wall because you are stressed about perfection. Stop it. Perfect does not exist and the more you reach for it, the harder things become.

What you should be aiming for is the very best that you can do. If you know that you have put the time in, done the work to the best of your ability, then that is enough. That is perfect!

Get a health check

Sometimes the wall comes up because of a physical health problem that you are not aware of. You may be low on iron, or you may have a virus.

If you are at the wall and are struggling to break through, make an appointment with your local GP for a full check-up. It could make the world of difference.

break through

And there you have it, 11 sure-fire ways to break through the wall and get back on track. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and do it!

Ready to get back to work?

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4 Responses

  1. Alice Ngigi says:

    Keep on keeping on.

  2. Beauty Ngwenya says:

    Dont listen to lies. …Amen to that,its easy i can do it .i feel motivated thanks to open colleges.

  3. Bob says:

    when i hit a wall , i always think about the reason that what cause this, and listens to others’ response,because we are always stressed about perfection.

  4. mclana says:

    Perfect does not exist and the more you reach for it, the harder things become, we should learn to be satisfied.

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