Students often put so much pressure on themselves. Some people can work really well under pressure, and a certain amount of pressure is needed in order for you to push yourself and succeed. However, in order to keep your mental and physical health in order, you should remember to reward yourself.
Yes, eat that doughnut, take that break, watch that TV episode.
The Academic Support Officer on JMC's Sydney campus explains that it all comes down to psychology. Used correctly, rewards can be a great incentive to keep you working towards your goals.
“The theory of operant conditioning is a psychological concept that suggests that we learn through reward and punishment. Specifically, this theory states that when behaviour is followed by a pleasant outcome, we are more likely to repeat that behaviour (because we want to repeat this pleasant outcome!). This is called positive reinforcement. Students can use positive reinforcement to their advantage, by rewarding themselves whenever they feel they have met a goal, completed a project well, or simply when they feel that they have tried their hardest on a task. Connecting a reward to a period of effective study not only gives you a mental break, but will motivate you to want to study effectively the next time.”
So what rewards work best?
“Common rewards often include: a break to watch a favourite show at the end of a study session, a day off at the end of a week of hard work, or a short trip away at the end of a successful trimester. To be effective, rewards should be something enjoyable for you – a session at the gym could be an excellent reward for a fitness freak, but might be punishment for somebody else!”
One thing to keep in mind is the distinction between internal and external rewards. External rewards are things or experiences that you might treat yourself to – such as a day off, a nice meal, or a holiday. On the other hand, internal rewards refer to something within you – your emotions and states of mind. Internal rewards for study might include feelings of pride at finishing a difficult project, satisfaction at being a step closer to your goals, or simply the enjoyment of being absorbed in a task.
Interestingly, studies have shown that in the long run nternal rewards are more effective at motivating students; you are more likely to study hard if you feel good about it. Therefore, take the time to let yourself experience the positive feelings associated with learning.
However, it’s important to not confuse rewarding yourself with procrastination. Rewarding yourself is when you have completed a goal, rather than hindering you from completing something. If you are finding it tricky, here are some of our tips to stop procrastination.
So don’t feel guilty for taking a moment for yourself after an accomplishment – it’s healthy!
If you have any concerns during your time at JMC Academy, Academic Support is available on each campus throughout your studies.