Bridgton Academy Alumni rank study hall very highly when they are asked about the most beneficial aspects of their BA experience. In the thick of it, current students may feel that study hall is both a curse and a blessing. It is helpful because it provides focused time to get the work done, and to keep up the GPA. However, those two hours may sometimes feel long and tedious, and students may notice energy and motivation drifting off. Students may get in a rut and feel that they are procrastinating, and just can’t focus. They get frustrated with themselves for caving to distractions and self-sabotaging their grades.
There is insight from neuroscience that explains whey study hall can be such a grind. At night, our body naturally produces GABA, a relaxing neurochemical that makes us feel peaceful and sleepy. GABA is produced at even higher concentration in our brains after exercise. When one combines these neurochemical realities with the sluggish aftermath of a heavy carb-loaded supper, students may feel that they have to fight sleep through their entire study hall.
The best antidote to the lethargic energy that can creep up during study hall is a decent wellness plan and self care routine. Hydration (a gallon per day), regular protein consumption (every 3 hours), and a healthy sleep cycle of at least 7 hours per night will inevitably boost energy levels during study hall.
In addition, a pre-study hall warm-up routine can be clutch:
Setting your intention to be productive and focused in study hall, getting your mental game face on, making an agenda/study hall plan, and visualizing yourself getting it all done will have immediate noticeable effects in your productivity. In addition, listening to motivating music before study hall can have similar energizing effects to a pre-game pep talk by an athletic coach. You have the power to get yourself pumped and amped up for getting the mental work done!
Music is naturally mood-altering and an excellent mindfulness tool because it can increase focus and mental clarity. It can have grounding, centering, relaxing, or energizing effects. Depending on the type of music and the volume, it can improve your mood and possibly increase your concentration ability.
If you find music pleasant and not distracting, it is more likely to be of benefit for study hall. However, one study suggests that working in silence brings the best results when concentration is required.
In a large study hall environment with many distracting noises from other students, noise-blocking earphones with low-mid intensity music may still be the best bet.
Mid-intensity funk and pop music boost energy and focus with out becoming too distracting. The best music during study hall may be different than pump-up/hype music for pre-game or a workout. If the music is too loud, super intense, or chaotic, it can be a detriment to concentration and can prevent sustained academic (mental) focus.
When selecting music as a strategy for energizing and increasing motivation, think about what music makes you want to dance, not mosh. The ideal study hall set-list if you are tired and unmotivated would be comprised of songs that increase the neurochemical dopamine, which is required for executive functioning within the brain. This would be custom selected music that makes you feel motivated and happy.
The best study hall music strategy for a student who is anxious about a test or a large project would be to increase alpha brain waves, which are calming. Alpha brain waves are responsible for a focused yet relaxed state of mind. Check out the link below for a youtube set-list that is the perfect background music for calm, sustained mental focus.
Study Hall Music to Decrease Stress and Maintain Mental Focus: