6 Tips to get through (and own) the winter term! – by Greg Overholt, Students Offering Support
With a long break, and the shadow of exams still looming over your shoulders, the winter term seems unbearable. At this moment, you have probably realized you will need to get your ass in gear for the upcoming term – and that sounds miserable right? Right.
I’ve gotta tell you though – after having seen so many students have a great fall term to then waste away their winter term, I know that you need to do your best to resist the temptation to reach for the remote, computer, or gaming console. How? The overarching theme I want you to think about is: Focus on what you CAN change, not what you can’t. So your 30 hours of class & labs next term are intimidating but mandatory and manageable despite seeming overwhelming at first. So what CAN you change?:
- Unique ways to be stimulated…mentally!
Lectures can definitely be mentally stimulating and engaging, but often the subject matter is not exactly what you’re passionate about (and it’s never as good when it’s something you ‘have’ to do). Do something purposeful to keep you excited regularly. Join a French conversation group, join a book club, have a “Sudoku Challenge Hour” with friends, something to keep your mind engaged on something you are interested in!
- Feel like you are contributing to society and VOLUNTEER:
Students are essentially a big ball of potential value to the world, waiting to be used. For 20+ years, we are being trained to finally use our knowledge and skills to add value to society. Often the grind of school and more school can give you a feeling of ‘What am I actually doing in this world other than filling my brain with more stuff?’. So to beat this: volunteering is THE thing to do; all the cool kids are doing it. It allows you to have that feeling of value PLUS help out a great cause in need of your skills/knowledge PLUS can help your future career (segue!).
- Add to YOUR Career Development:
Taking a full five classes in quantum mathematics this term when working towards being a business financial analyst can often leave you with the feeling that you are wasting time when you could be developing yourself for your future career. Don’t waste this time! Accomplish number two and this one by finding a volunteering opportunity that will not just give you the feeling that you are adding value to the world but also to yourself. Or find a part-time job working for little to no pay at a local organization to get the experience you are craving (and will be necessary as you work towards graduation). All clubs need people to manage the books – that’s much closer to your career than 4th order derivatives.
- Get ENERGY:
In order to stay motivated and get out of bed at 7a.m. to make it to your 8:30 class, or to put in the energy to engage a passion in your down-time: eat well, exercise often, sleep lots. But not just a combination of ‘light’ popcorn, walking to the TV to turn it on, and cat naps in class. Instead, make sure you keep fruits/veggies in your diet (idea: cook-off with friends), get your heart-rate up twice a week (join an intramural team like dodgeball or innertube water-polo… everyone can play and have fun!), and get 7 hours per night. It’s possible.
- Friends make people happier – invest in them.
Fact: Having more (and better quality!) friends make people happier – About.com wrote about it, so it must be true. But in all seriousness, I agree with their article. Burying yourself in work / business while ignoring your friends (or not seeking new ones) will NOT help you beat the winter blues. It can even make your productivity lower overall as you aren’t efficient when you work. Happy people work better.
- How to find them?
- Be a free agent on an Intramural sports team (this can satisfy numbers 4, 5, and potentially 1 on this list at the same time)
- Volunteer (can satisfy numbers 2, 3 and 5)
- Join a campus club or social club (enjoy chess? Sci-fiction? Rock-climbing?)
- Take a recreational class (painting? Yoga or dance class at your campus fitness center? Great for energy, fitness, friends!)
- Slot in dedicated ‘me’ time… Define it, then LOVE IT!
‘Me’ time is glorious. It’s the time of day/week where what you do is 100% driven by what will make you happy, less stressed, rejuvenated, refreshed, inspired, rested, or any other state of being that you want to be! First step is to know yourself – what state do you want? (ie: refreshed). Then figure out what gives you that the most (ie: a bath, reading trashy magazines, etc). Is it dedicating a night once every other weekend to go out and dance dance dance like it’s the last night of your life? (credit: Usher) Or maybe playing video games with friends at other schools to stay in touch (a win for #5), or watch the latest season of HIMYM. Figure it out and book it in!
Hopefully when you look towards the next four months of lectures, labs, reports, exams, projects, and presentations, you can also see change in the stuff you CAN change:
- A weekly after-school reading program (working towards your teaching degree!)
- New Pilates class
- Registered as the newest SKIFFY member (look it up.. it’s legit)
- Your Thursday night knitting ‘me’ time.
Take back your life, get excited for the next term, stay healthy (mentally, physically, and emotionally) and HAVE FUN!