Asking for a Friend: Help! My schoolwork has tripled during the pandemic. What can I do?

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  • Each week, we respond to a question from our readers, and our team of clinical psychologists gives advice and resources you can turn to
  • This week, we help a student who finds it hard to stay motivated after quarantine
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What do you do when you have too much to do? Photo: Shutterstock

Need an answer to a personal question that you’ve never mustered the courage to ask? We’ve been there. Whether it is about school, family issues or social life, share your thoughts with us.

If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please fill out this Google form. Don’t worry, you will remain anonymous!

Dear Friend

Before the pandemic, I finished everything I needed to do before 6 or 7pm and had at least an hour to myself in the evening. Now the amount of homework I have to do has tripled. After that, I play the piano and sing, then study and do tuition work. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but I am working up until I go to sleep. I’ve grown so lazy over quarantine! Can’t I just go back to 2019 and have fun while getting better grades than I am now? Everything I do feels like it’s in vain. Is there something I can do to be as smart as my classmates?

Thanks, Stressed Over School

Help! Am I in love with my teacher?

Dear Stressed Over School

It doesn’t sound like you’re lazy - it sounds like you genuinely have more work to do now! Unfortunately, the workload for students in Hong Kong can be quite high, and it’s perfectly normal to feel stressed about everything you need to do.

Aside from the amount of homework you have, you’re also preparing for exams and trying to keep up with extracurricular activities - all without having lots of time to rest, relax and recharge. This can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health and can actually hurt your academic performance.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been an extraordinary disruption to students’ learning and daily lives. You’ve had to make substantial adjustments, such as homeschooling, online learning, being away from your classmates, and changing your habits and daily routines - all on top of having to cope with the turmoil of the coronavirus.

Here are a few tips that may help.

There’s no need to panic! Photo: Shutterstock

How to manage stress

When you have too much schoolwork, it’s only natural that your motivation to do it will decrease and your performance will go down. To destress, make sure to take breaks, exercise regularly, and keep up with your hobbies and interests.

Meditation can also be very helpful if you find yourself worrying or overthinking, and it can help you take a step back and analyse a situation. Share your worries with your teachers, family and trusted friends – they might have some advice to help you out, and even just knowing they are there for you can go a long way.

What to do if you don’t have classes with any of your friends

Build self-discipline

Self-discipline can help you stay focused on your studies. It also enhances your perseverance, endurance, and ability to carry out your decisions and plans. More importantly for your situation, it can also help you get back on track when it comes to your studies.

Eliminate any distractions that make it hard to focus. For most of us, this might be our mobile phone. Leave it in the other room, so you aren’t tempted to scroll on Instagram instead of doing your schoolwork.

However, make sure to reward yourself after studying for a while. You can treat yourself to something small, like maybe a snack, or some screen time. This will help you recharge and keep your motivation to learn high.

How can I convince my parents I can balance studies and screen time?

You can also organise your tasks by noting your deadlines and due dates in a timetable. This can help you prioritise what needs to be done first and help you avoid procrastination and feel more in control.

Finally, make sure you have a routine, because it can help you stay focused and consistent. The pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty in our lives, and having certain activities or tasks you know you can do every day can give you a sense of stability.

Best of luck, Friend of a Friend

The question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.

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