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Beyond Burnout

4 Effective Alternatives To Toxic Motivation

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By Khrystelle Abo | 21st April, 2023

As the school year progresses, the pressure to keep up with coursework can become overwhelming, especially if it continues to pile up into one huge intimidating stack. As a result, several students become exhausted and seek extreme measures to push through the grind. Check out these strategies to pave your way to academic excellence!

Opening Thoughts: A Prelude To Toxic Motivation

📵 Toxic motivation is a current social media trend that encourages learners to enforce negative mindsets upon themselves in order to use these emotions to achieve academic success. This spite-fueled mindset, while guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush for days, does not work. Students should not only strive to push themselves to their limits, but they should also be mindful of their physical and mental well-being.

In this article, you will find 4 alternative methods to incorporate into your daily routine to replace your inner toxic dilemma.

1. Use The 45/15 Rule ⏳

Students in high school and college frequently use this strategy to assist their learning. You must study for 45 minutes using your preferred learning techniques or devices, take a 15-minute break, and then repeat.

This method entails a continuous flow of motivation throughout your study period and allows your brain to de-stress from massive info-dumping. It is highly recommended that you use this method at least once a week to help your mind familiarize with key definitions and vocabulary at the start of a semester to alleviate stress before finals.

If you are looking for a shorter method, try the 20/10 rule instead.

2. Take Advantage Of Your Happy Chemical 🧠

Dopamine is a chemical messenger in the brain that is released when we experience joy or satisfaction from an enjoyable activity. Everyone has guilty pleasures that they love more than anything else, and it is advisable to indulge in them during your study sessions.

Studying is not always easy for everyone. It is extremely common for students to become bored while poring over textbooks massacred with highlighter. When your alarm goes off after 45 minutes, it is time to take a break.

But what do you do during your break? 

  • 🧹 Re-organise and tidy up your space. Put away unnecessary stationary items, stack your flashcards, and toss stray gel pens back into your pencil case.
  • 💆🏾‍♀️ Designate some **Me-Time** strictly for yourself. Change scenery; take a walk. Bring a snack to eat. Sit in silence and allow your mind to wander wherever it may. Your brain requires a moment to recharge, and this is it. If music is more your thing, choose a song that is soft on the ears and played at a low volume.
  • 🎶 Do something that makes you happy but avoid using social media by all means. Watching video after video may overstimulate your brain rather than de-stress it. You may journal, dance, or—for trendy individuals who aim to boost their dopamine levels to the extreme—go online and add designer clothes to your shopping cart!

Of course, you will be discarding your shopping cart right after. But just thinking about it is enough to motivate you to succeed and live the life of your dreams, isn't it?

3. Build Consistent Habits That You Commit To 📚

Habits build up over time, even if you fail to notice them. They are what created the person you are now, and if you want to become a better version of yourself, you must write down and commit to the qualities you desire for yourself.

This means starting small. The following are some habits that a student should develop over time:

  • 😴 Sleep for at least 7 hours. This advice may seem intimidating if you are a persistent nocturnal owl, but it is told repeatedly for a reason. Sleep rejuvenates your mind and body; absorbing information without your brain operating at peak efficiency will only exhaust you further and put you in a state of anxiety during your exams.
  • ✍🏾 Listen more, write less. It is not necessary to write down every single word that leaves your professor’s mouth until your notebook is filled to the last page. To easily grasp the core basics of the lesson, look for keywords and shorten their definitions; the rest is entirely dependent on what your brain has been able to follow through during the lecture.

Does It Actually Help?

  • 📖 Read once a day. This could be an article, a book, or newspaper—even fictional stories will suffice. Keep your brain engaged, your mind active, and vocabulary broad.
  • 👣 Interact with your class as much as possible. You are in a learning environment with other students who are in the same boat as you are. Plan study sessions with them, assist those who are struggling in a specific lesson, and communicate with your teacher. More often than not, they are eager to answer any questions you may have.

4. Create A Healthy Schedule Tailored To You ⏰

Stick to a study method that works for you. Various study techniques exist online, and finding the right one for you could be the key to earning straight A’s in your classes.

This varies greatly for everyone, with some preferring weekly sessions over once a day; or waking up early to revise rather than pulling an all-nighter. Your daily routine should include time for eating, self-care, and a healthy balance between your academics and social life.

This also means establishing some ground rules, such as:

What Do I Do During The Break?

  • ❌ Avoid procrastination. Many students fall inside the never-ending rabbit hole of procrastination because they are overwhelmed or lack the confidence to complete a task. This is easily avoidable by breaking tasks down into smaller steps, setting realistic goals for yourself, and developing good time management skills. If you require assistance, do not be reluctant to approach your teachers or peers; they will always be there to lend a hand.
  • 🤳🏾 Keep your phone away from your study space. This will help to keep your mind focused on the task at hand and limit distractions.
  • 📝 Complete tasks as early as possible. You read that correctly—even those pending projects that are due months away. Free time is scarce in a student's academic life, and if you want to keep your workload manageable, always make the most of your free time.


Burnout is an unavoidable challenge that many students will face at some point in their lives. While it may be tempting to rely on toxic motivation and other harmful habits to stay on top of your workload, self-care and mindful daily routines can help you avoid burnout and achieve success in the long run.

✅ Success is defined not by a single achievement or award, but by the small consistent efforts we make every day. Practice self-compassion and kindness, as this is where true fulfillment and growth can be found.

Thumbnail Design by Mudit Jha

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