Fall semester is great. Returning students are coming back after a (hopefully) refreshing summer, ready to take another step closer to graduation, and new students are embarking on a brand new, exciting adventure. Fall semester envelops the warmth of summer and the promise of Christmas. The beautiful fall scenery is a bonus, too. Again, fall semester is pretty great. Spring semester, on the other hand, is a real doozy. The weather is gray and cold, there are fewer breaks, and I have noticed that personal crises tend to run amok in the spring. With spring semester looming on the horizon, I thought it might be good to jot down my thoughts on how I have learned to survive it. Some of these tips can be taken outside of a university campus too, so feel free to try them out, no matter what walk of life you are in.
1) Go outside. This is the one I struggle with the most because, quite frankly, I have a raging disdain for cold weather. However, sunlight, no matter how warm, is good for our brains. Sunlight helps us to release endorphins, and thus, helps to keep our moods elevated. Take a couple of strolls throughout the week to help yourself maintain a positive outlook (walking from class to class doesn’t count). Sunlight also provides us with vitamins that boost our immune systems, and therefore, helps us to fight off the many ailments that accompany colder weather. If it’s dangerously cold or you just can’t stand the cold, keep your blinds and curtains open to let the sunlight into your house/dorm room.
2) No more all-nighters. Despite popular belief, all-nighters are actually counterproductive. Our minds can only focus on a subject for so long, and “all night” goes far beyond that boundary. At some point, no matter how many times we read over something, our brains stop absorbing and storing the information. You are literally wasting time. If you do feel the need to stay awake late studying for a test, take frequent 20-minute naps. Our memories and experiences are actually stored in our long-term memory when we sleep. If a pianist practices for an hour and then takes a 20-minute nap, their brain will literally recreate the same neurochemical maps that it did when they were practicing, so they are basically practicing twice. It works just the same for studying, so get some sleep!
3) Spread your beautiful, social-butterfly wings. When people are stressed or depressed, they isolate themselves. Actually, this leads to greater depths of stress and depression. We feel like we need to be away from people to improve our moods, when in reality, the exact opposite is true. We are hardwired for relationships, so when we deprive ourselves of social interaction, we are essentially starving ourselves out. Consider hosting a study/homework party in your dorm room, or take a trip to your favorite local coffee shop.
4) Dress for success. Hoodies and pajama bottoms become the norm in the spring. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it isn’t all that great either. Keeping yourself groomed and well-dressed actually boosts self-confidence and improves your mood. My favorite high school teacher once told his class that the days he looked his best (full suit, haircut, etc.) were actually the days that he felt the worst. I have tried this for myself. When I am sick or find myself to be in a less-than-excellent mood, I’ll don a nice dress or spend a few extra minutes on my hair. While this does not make my nose any less stuffy, it does give me a little bit of a positive boost for the day.
Hopefully these tips will help you make it through the winter. While some of our mammal friends are sleeping it away, we will be busy reading, cranking out papers, making presentations, going to work, drinking unhealthy amounts of coffee, and praying for the summer. Above all else, remember that you have people in your lives that believe in you and want you to do your very best. I may not know your name, but as I am writing this, I am also cheering you on in my heart. You can do it!
Photo (Flickr CC) by Brook Ward
Latest posts by Stacey Whitaker (see all)
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- Stop the Glorification of Busyness - January 22, 2015
- A Survival Guide for Spring Semester - January 11, 2015