It’s that time of year. School, chores, studying for the National Bible Bee, and that family trip out of state are all thrown into one week. Stress sets in, and so does the familiar feeling of “I’m never going to have time to study”. You try to multitask, and you try to set aside undistracted time, but it feels like your mind is fighting against you in the pursuit to stay focused. We’ve all been there.
But maybe you’re on the opposite side of the spectrum. You have an open schedule which allows you to devote more time to studying… but that is all you are doing, and your mind feels like it is going to explode. You can’t quite remember the difference between Deesis and Proseuche and the words in your memory passages are starting to jumble together in your mind.
Burnout happens to everyone, whether we like it or not.
I’ve been there, and looking back, it was quite hilarious to see what an exhausted version of myself looked like after hours upon hours of intense study. But the lessons God can teach you in those moments are invaluable. Thankfully, burnouts never last forever, and stress isn’t beyond the helping hand of the Lord. We serve a God who desires to help us in our pursuit of His Word. When we feel void of strength, He lacks none.
So when the stress level rises, where do you turn? When burnouts come, how do you deal with them? Here are six helpful tips for overcoming these obstacles this NBBC season.
Pray – This can’t be done enough. Oftentimes we can forget the importance of prayer when our minds are so focused on studying for the competition. When we set aside time to talk to our Creator, we can witness His strength in action in our lives. Choosing to pray before we study can also prepare our hearts and minds for what God has to show us. Sometimes the Lord will use the trying times in our studying to remind us to depend on Him, as we can’t do this journey alone. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us that as we make our requests known to God that His peace will guard our hearts and minds. We don’t have to be anxious about anything! You can read Ruth Derby’s blog post on the importance of prayer by clicking here!
Break up your study time – Too much review with not enough breaks is the number one way to experience burnout, while finding creative ways to break up your study time can prolong your ability to focus. For example, choose to study cross-references for thirty minutes, then move onto Greek words for thirty minutes, and then end with working on the study passage, memorizing, etc. If you study the same thing for too long, you’ll lose interest and wear yourself out faster. But in pacing yourself, you can push through the things that don’t come as easily by creating smaller and more attainable goals. Reciting verses you know well can be a nice break from the harder passages, too.
Another fun way to break up your study time is by using the Pomodoro method. Start by focusing strictly on your task (whether it’s memorizing a memory passage, or reviewing Greek words), for twenty-five minutes. Try your best to eliminate all distractions in this time. After twenty-five minutes are up (timers are helpful), you can take a five minute break. Make sure that you spend your break somewhere else besides where you were studying, doing something other than studying. This is a great time to step outside and get that fresh air. Repeat this process until you’ve completed four twenty-five minute sections, then reward yourself with a fifteen minute break! Plus, completing over an hour of focused study time feels amazing.
Take breaks – When your mind is overwhelmed with studying or memorizing, taking breaks makes all the difference. Get out into nature and take a walk, play with your siblings or a pet, read, or bake something you like, or even take a nap. When you choose to return to your studying after some time away, you feel refreshed and ready to go. As my mom always says, getting a change of scenery is sometimes all you need. Remember to also take breaks without any study materials on hand. This allows your mind to calm down to prevent mental exhaustion and reduce stress.
Just read the Word – Try to look past the Greek words that pop out on the page and spend some time simply reading God’s Word (preferably not the study passage). Maybe go back to a specific Psalm that encourages you, and rest in the truths of who God is. Enjoy the quiet times in God’s presence and be still and know that He is (Ps. 46:10).
Remember why you’re doing this – Paul often refocused on his purpose in the Christian race – the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14). When stress threatens to steal your peace, refocus on the reason that you’re memorizing, studying, and competing – for the glory of God. The Lord is the One who allowed you to make it this far, and it’s by Him that you’ll be able to continue. If God’s children ask Him for strength and wisdom, He promises to give it (James 1:5). In the end, the results are all in His hands. As Psalm 121:1-2 says, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth”.
Reach out to community – We all know that one of the reasons the Lord has given us each other in the body of Christ for our edification. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”. The National Bible Bee community is especially encouraging for this! You’re not alone in the journey, and whether you need help with study materials, someone to pray for you, or just a friend to connect with, feel free to reach out. We’re here to help you run this race to the end!
Keep going, contestants! May all things be done for His glory!
Written by NBB Alumna: Hannah Kohner