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I’m Stressed; I Can’t Focus on Anything at School

27 November, 2023
Q Assalamu Aleikom. I have a hard time focusing on my school work.

I’ve tried everything. I made timetables but am unable to stick to them. I tried forcing myself to work which only makes me more stressed. I pray five times a day.

I’ve been trying to eat healthier foods. I’ve been giving myself free time beforehand. Nothing works! I don’t understand why I can’t focus at all. My mind just goes blank.

For example: I can stare at the laptop screen for two hours straight without being able to write a single word, even if I know what to write. I end up getting distracted. I feel so stressed and pressured, especially with my upcoming exams and lots of overdue school work.

My parents have been supportive and tried helping me to no avail. All this makes me feel so down. I feel like I am disappointing them. I don’t know what to do. Please give me some advice!


In this counseling answer:

I kindly suggest insha’Allah that you do create a timetable for getting your work done.

However, try to encourage inspiration and creativity by also doing other things in that time frame.

Are you really interested in what you are studying?

You may want to take a stress test or a stress inventory. Please find it below.

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Please see for further information on stress management techniques.

Make a list of the motivations that help you to complete your studies.

As Salamu Alaykum Sister,

May Allah guide us in providing a response. You are 17 years old and have difficulties focusing on your schoolwork. You have many overdue assignments and you have major exams coming up.

Getting Behind with School Work

The problem seems to be that you have gotten behind and it now feels overwhelming to catch up.

You did state that you make yourself a timetable to finish the work but you are never able to stick to it.

You tried forcing yourself to work, but it just makes you more stressed.

You may want to take a different approach. When we are really stressed out about getting something done and set our best intentions, it often backfires.

For instance: when we set our intentions to finish an assignment in x amount of time, we may sit there and get more stressed out because of the time frame.

Another thought you may wish to explore is interest. Are you interested in what you are studying or is it boring to you?

I kindly suggest insha’Allah that you do create a timetable for getting your work done.

However, try to encourage inspiration and creativity by also doing other things in that time frame.

For instance: if you have history homework, you may want to randomly search the internet for some historical facts that are of interest to you.

I'm Stressed; I Can't Focus on Anything at School - About Islam

This might inspire you to get your work done. It will also hold your interest because you’re doing something that you are interested in.

Insha’Allah this may help you with attention and focus on the work that needs to be done.

Other Causes of Stress

I wonder if you are under any other kind of stress. This may include stress or anxiety from other sources such as your social life, family, health, and so forth.

There may be things you are feeling anxious or stressed about but not aware of.

Please do take an inventory of any other sources of stress you may have in your life.

Specific sources may include a recent move, arguing with siblings, losing friends, changing dietary and sleep habits, and so forth.

Reducing Stress to Increase Attention

Often when we are very stressed out, we have a hard time concentrating.

You may want to take a stress test or a stress inventory. Please see for an online assessment. This will give you an idea where your stress levels lie.

If you can reduce your stress it might make it more conducive for you to study. There are many different stress reduction techniques.

Some include mindfulness meditation, deep breathing techniques, and progressive body muscle relaxation. Please see for further information on stress management techniques.

Journaling for Healthier Study Habits

You may want to start a journal. Write down a few things about your inability to focus and getting things done.

You may want to document when this first started. Did something significant happen in your life to cause this change?

Insha’Allah, examine if you experience a trauma, a disappointment, or life change such as moving, starting in a new college, a change in friends, a change in sleep patterns, etc.  Whatever is stressful to you, please do write down.

Knowing when your inability to focus and do your homework began will also be helpful to know how you feel when you are trying to complete your work.

Do you feel more frustrated? Do you feel tired or a sense of fear when you attempt to do your work?

Again, these questions may open up some surprising information regarding your reasons for procrastination.

Insha’Allah, please do begin a journal on what, how, and why you are feeling the way you do.

By answering these questions through introspection, you will be one step closer toward resolving it.

Deciding to Just Do It

If you really want to get something finished, you can do it. For instance, you were given the task of writing 1000 words about the life cycle of a butterfly.

Check out this counseling video:

For doing so, you would get $5,000. I bet you could write 1000 words about the life cycle of a butterfly for that!

My point is, find something that motivates you. Make a list of the motivations that help you to complete your studies.

When the time comes to study, think about the rewards rather than the negatives.

You may even want to make a list of the rewards and tape them up somewhere in the room where you study so you can see them.

Yes, you do have a choice: either you do it, or you don’t. What are the motivators, and what are the consequences? Ask yourself which are more appealing to go for.


Insha’Allah, be aware of the outcomes. These, as you know, are either failure or success.

You may wish to break it down even further by imagining the future.

See what success would look like if you finished your work, and also what the value would look like if you did not.

Thinking about these outcomes can be awakening sometimes. It can help encourage us to do what we need to do to get things done.

Creating Habits

Research says it takes about a month to develop a habit if you stick to doing something everyday, no matter what.

Sister, if you picked a time to study and persisted for one month, insha’Allah this would create a habit.

I kindly suggest insha’Allah that you pick a time frame that is wide open.

For instance, saying you’re going to study from 6 to 10 p.m. might be too much of an open window and you might panic.

On the other hand, if you said that you were going to study during the evening along with maybe going to the gym, or having dinner with a friend, it would combine a positive activity with a perceived negative one.

You may feel less stressed after an enjoyable event and be more prone to study.

This is often a good method to use; however, you must be diligent to stick to the study part!

This strategy takes some of the pressure off because it infuses joyful things with responsible tasks in the same time frame. Yet again, you must be committed to do both.

Time Factors

Sister, please do look at what is taking up your time when you’re supposed to be studying. Are you watching TV, talking to friends, or busy on your phone?

This also includes your emotional time. What is going through your mind when you’re supposed to be studying?

Are there negative messages going through your mind? If so, it is no wonder you cannot study.

Insha’Allah tries turning the negatives into positives. If you say „I can’t do this, I can’t study”, then you won’t! If you say „I’ve got this, no problem” instead and immediately begin, chances are you will complete it.

Find out the environmental and emotional red lights that are causing you to not study.

Write them down in your journal as barriers to studying. Make a conscious effort to overcome them.


Sister, insha’Allah please try the above tips and suggestions to develop better study habits, reduce stress and incorporate journaling.

Insha’Allah if you commit to just one month of doing this, it will become a habit. One you may enjoy and feel accomplished about!

We wish you the best.


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.