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While the holidays are a time for fun and relaxing with family and friends it can also be stressful for students. It can be hard to manage social obligations with friends and family as well as find time to study. Even when there is a good plan in place there can be distractions or activities that will conflict with their study schedule, causing anxiety.  It is important to cherish and enjoy the special time with family and friends, but it’s important to manage to balance a schedule between fun and studying.

Tips to help students stay focused and stress-free over the break

Plan ahead. – One of the best things you can do is let family and friends know that you’re going to be busy studying and might not be available. Additionally, before you create your study plan, anticipate the distractions that may occur or the obligations you might have. Then, choose what you can realistically do and not do. If you are going out of town be sure and bring all your school stuff with you such as textbooks, laptop, etc. You never know when you will find time to do something.

It’s ok to say NO. – It’s ok to decline an invitation to a party, or outing, and focus on academics. This may mean you may miss out on some fun activities, but the ones you do take part in will be enjoyed guilt-free, knowing that your studies are on the right track.

Manage your time. – Fill out a calendar, starting with the days you know you will be spending with family and friends. Then, decide what days and times will be suitable for studying. Next, fill in what subject you will study on which day. Also, next to the subject write the amount of time you will spend studying that subject.  It might be a good idea to study early in the morning before family wakes up.  It is the quietist time of the day and you may be able to get a lot accomplished and then have the rest of your day to hang out with friends and family.

Study space – With all that is going on it might be hard to find the right study environment. Decide on a good place to study. Make it somewhere where you won’t be distracted and can get your work done.

Accountability and rewards – Share your schedule with a friend or family member or tell them what you need to accomplish by the end of the day. Get them to ask you about it so you can demonstrate that you did what you said you’d do.  Don’t forget to reward yourself! Tell your accountability person about your reward.

Don’t go at it alone! – If you are staying in town and so are some of your classmates then, invite them to study with you. Two heads are better than one! Form a study group to make things les stressful. If you are going out of town then use your family and friends as a resource. Ask them questions! They may be able to help you a lot with your studies.

Breath and remember your goals – It will be hard to focus at times and you may start to feel your blood pressure rise, but remember your why. Remember your goals. Remember your values. Remember why it is important to you to succeed. Take a few deep breaths and move forward.

What if it doesn’t work out? – It’s important to be optimistic, but don’t be surprised if you are not able to follow your schedule. Just do the best you can and enjoy spending time with family and friends. Sometimes it’s best to just join in the fun. Genuine breaks are necessary after all and if you think you need one, take it. It is better to have a refreshed mind.

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a certified academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at or (904) 487-8269.