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Study mojo MIA?

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We are in the final weeks of the semester and some doubt may be starting to creep in. How will you get through all those last assignments, and then study for and perform well on those exams? Don’t worry we have you! Remember, Curtin is here to support you on your study journey, not just to assess it.

You know it’s essential to hit the books hard, to get the grades you need, to get the career you have been dreaming of. Yet you often get stuck. So why can’t you get yourself to study consistently? Humans don’t do anything that they’re not motivated to do. Motivation determines what we want to do, how long we want to do it for, and how hard we want to try to get to our desired outcome.

Studies have shown that where dopamine is circulating in our brain actually impacts our study behaviours. When we do things we find rewarding then there is likely to be more dopamine flowing in our system and the positive emotions help reinforce that behaviour.

When we do things that are anxiety-inducing or that we simply don’t enjoy – dopamine is released into areas of the brain that tries to protect us from that activity. However, in protecting us we end up with even more avoidant behaviours – so if you find your motivation suddenly missing when it is time to study, your brain may be protecting you from what it is perceiving as a negative activity. This is not exactly ideal for getting the results we want.

Here are some quick tips to make your study tasks more manageable and less of a threat.

Quick tips to get unstuck

  • Reframe the project at hand: What is the point of the task? Do I understand this task or do I need some help getting across it first?
  • Break down the task: Combat the feeling of being overwhelmed by breaking the task down into micro-steps and then plan out little rewards that create positive reinforcement for staying on track.
  • Adjust your expectations: Today might not be a day where you can tackle a complicated part of the project, but perhaps there are some light micro steps you can tick off to keep up your momentum.

Need support adjusting to uni? With topics covering procrastination, anxiety, sleep, adjustment to culture shock, exams and more, the Lunchtime Life Skills webinar series can help.

If you feel like you need more support you can always visit Curtin’s Counselling & Wellbeing webpage to learn more about Curtin’s free counselling services, other group programs, and bulk-billed GP services for all students.



The information in this article is just a glimpse of the information provided at Curtin’s Motivation group workshop as learned from Curtin’s Counselling Psychologist Ruth Swan.

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