Tips for studying with a chronic illness or disability.

Back in high school, I would spend hours at a time with my head in textbooks. Since developing chronic illnesses, productivity has looked a bit different for me. I’ve had to adapt and learn how to work within and around my symptoms. It took me a while to figure out what works for me, so I thought I would share some things that have helped me!


  1. Alternating between sitting and lying down.

Orthostatic intolerance makes it hard to be at a desk for long periods of time so when I have work, I’ll alternate between work that I need to do at a table and work that I can do on my laptop while lying down.


2. Having a good ergonomic workplace set up

I use this laptop stand and a Bluetooth keyboard to maintain good posture, which reduces the pain I experience from sitting at a desk.

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 8.20.31 PM
This setup looks similar to mine. Image source:

3. F.lux

This is a computer app, which you can use to change the tint of your screen. I deal with a lot of migraine-related light sensitivity, and this has been a huge help!


4. Apps

I use an app called “hatch” to stay focused. You choose a length of time to stay focused for and once that’s over a little monster hatches. As simple as it sounds, I find it very motivating!

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 8.18.44 PM
Image source:


5. Listening to readings

When I have documents to read, I highlight the text and do alt- s (I have a mac, so it might differ by computer) and listen to them while I read. There’s an app called Natural Reader, that allows you to upload a pdf and then listen to it. This helps my comprehension so much! Additionally, if my eyes are bothering me, I’ll just listen to the text without having to look at the screen.

6. Changing my expectations

If I’m really not feeling well and am having a hard time focusing, I try to prioritize resting and doing what I need to do to feel better. I find that trying to push through and study on a bad day is really frustrating and that time is usually better spent resting. Obviously, there are times when I have to work, and in those times I try and focus on just getting it done to the best of my abilities ( which is very hard as a perfectionist!). I heard the following quote recently: “anything worth doing is worth doing badly,” and that mindset has helped me a lot.


If you have a chronic illness or disability and have found hacks to make studying easier, I would love to hear them!



2 thoughts on “Tips for studying with a chronic illness or disability.

  1. as a college student with chronic illness, this helps a lot! it’s really nice to hear tips from people who struggle just like me 🙂


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