Taking my first test in university was horrifying. I was a freshman. I thought I had a decent handle on my first biology class. On the first day of class, my professor handed out quizzes that would count towards our final grade.
All of a sudden, I started doubting myself. I looked around the classroom and everyone else seemed like they gained the confidence I lost. I felt unprepared and caught off guard. Needless to say, I failed that test with a 50% test score. Afterwards, my classmates compared their grades and talked about how awesome they did. I tried my best to hide my score.
According to American Psychological Association’s Stress in America study, Gen Z adults ages ranging from 18–23 reported more stress than any other generation, with 87% saying that their education was a source of their stress. It definitely became a source of mine.
Olivia Sanchez of The Hechinger Report’s recent article mentions how students are using unhealthy coping mechanisms due to their experiences with school related anxiety, depression, and burnout. She mentions the psychological and emotional toll the coronavirus pandemic has had on students as students must shift to online learning, social isolation, personal loss, and massive grief.
In my first year as a university student, I too felt my stress adding it’s own layers. I felt like I didn’t belong. Even more so, I was a Biology major. All of these thoughts of self-doubt flooded my mind.
My anxiety was at an all-time high. My heart was racing. I couldn’t help but wonder if college was for me. I didn’t think I could compete with my classmates. My immediate coping solution was to end my studies, so I contemplated dropping out. However, there was a part of me that just thought, stick it out and see what happens.
Related: I feel stupid
Then, I remembered in my high school literature class, my teacher would start off each class by having us write essays while she played classical music. I figured she may have been onto something; so I gave it a try.
My first few times listening to music, I was so distracted focusing on what the musician was saying, I could barely focus on my studies. Then I found it: lo-fi music.
Tips on how to study
According to Jody Amable, lo-fi hip hop is conducive to concentration; lo-fi music’s hip-hop based combination of jazz, piano, and virtually no vocals is one of the best study aids to facilitate learning. The best-kept concentration secret among young people.
Once I started listening to lo-fi music and studying, I noticed my high levels of anxiety with school and life in general just left me. I was so relaxed, yet I was SUPER focused and driven.
Burned out with studying?
This was easily one of the best finds I’ve stumbled upon. When I first heard it, I felt like I was able to just zone out and focus all of my attention on whatever task I had in front of me.
At one point I think that I actually stopped hearing the music and just felt in rhythm with my studies. If I was typing a paper, it seemed as if my fingers would move by themselves. One hour later, I would have an entire college level paper created.
This lo-fi music also appeared to give me much more peace and an interesting level of contentment with the expectations I put on myself. It’s as if the music purged all of my fears and negative thoughts from my mind.
In an article by Alex Flood, he mentions a study conducted by Dr David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International whereby patients’ stress and anxiety levels were reduced by 65% through utilisation of music.
When I really wanted to give my peace of mind a boost, I paired the lo-fi music with a nice cup of coffee. This was my perfect combination for an awesome study session.
One undergraduate degree and a doctoral degree later, I still use this musical secret to accelerate my learning and comprehension in my everyday tasks. If you’re looking for a way to help reduce your anxiety/stress and increase your learning, give lo-fi music a try the next time you study.
Being an educator is a true joy of mine. It pours into and rejuvenates me.
If you would like to support me going forward, please consider enrolling in one of my courses or purchase your copy of my book to help you beat school. And don’t forget to grab your free starter kit which includes free ebooks and handouts.
Chris Boykins, PhD has professional experience with university students who struggled with anxiety.