So, School is Back!
That long winter break. First semester is finished; no finals to worry about; no assignments to complete; just you, and almost a month off to veg and hang out. Life doesn’t get much better than winter break. As that last week of break hits, though, you are feeling that love/hate thing. On one hand, you really want to get back to hook up with friends and enjoy the independence of not living under your parents’ roof; on the other hand, you are dreading the semester ahead – classes, assignments, papers, exams – all of those things that mean that terrible word – work.
Yep – that’s what they are called. The winter doldrums. It’s hard to understand why anyone would call this the spring semester, when spring is a good three months away. Right now, it is winter, and, especially if you go to school anywhere north of Georgia, Texas, Arizona and Southern California, you are in for some cold weather and the temptation to just stay under those cozy covers in your bed. Even if you are in a warm climate with sun and warmth, the second semester can bring with it a lack of motivation related to coursework.
Battling those Doldrums
It’s so easy to get into a routine of just plain “blah” after that long break. But breaking those blahs so that you can stay motivated despite anything is something you must do, if your second semester is to be both productive and fun. Here are some tips that may help you make that second semester as good as the first.
- Go back to school a few days early. If you live in a dorm or a nearby apartment, get your gear back and get it all organized before the first day of classes. It’s a psychological thing. If you wait to return until the night before, that gear will just sit on the floor and still be there a week later. Psychologically, you have not really “returned,” because nothing is unpacked and put away. Going back early also lets you figure out where your classes are and set up a schedule. This helps to put you in the mindset of getting back into the “academic” mode.If you are a commuter, drive over to campus and find your classroom buildings. Take a fellow student along and do it together. It’s good to have someone to share the “misery” of the impending “doom” of second semester actually starting.
- Identify those classes that are going to be tough and those that will be easier. When you get those syllabi, you will be able to do this better. But get everything on a big calendar, so you know what is due when. It’s important to be able to visualize your targets, so getting an actual paper calendar on the wall may be better than one you have in your devices.
- Join a New Club or Organization: Something new always picks up the mood. It gets you around new people and gives you new activities in which to participate. Joining a group that performs needed community service is always a good idea. Participating in food and clothing rives, volunteering in a homeless shelter, and other activities, has the mental benefit of understanding how blessed you are to be a college student with the relatively minor problems and issues you have. Perspective is a wonderful thing.
- Get Physical Exercise: Nothing is worse than sitting around during the winter, gaining weight and getting unfit. You will feel bad about yourself; and you won’t activate those endorphins which help your mood. Most campuses have a fitness center, so it will cost you nothing. If not, join an intramural team.
- Eat Better: If you want long-term energy and mood elevation, then you need to put the right foods into your body. Proteins are really important during the winter – they provide that long-term energy, as opposed to sugars and starches. And remember that your mom wants you to eat your fruits and veggies – do it for her.
- Know When You are Struggling: If you are really having problems with a particular course, get research paper help or join a study group. It will not get any better just sitting and worrying about it. Take some action. And if you are showing signs of doldrums that are not going away (too much inactivity and sleep), then you may need to get professional support at the student health center. There is no stigma attached to this – you will have lots of company.
- Plan for Fun: Taking a good amount of time to just hang out with friends, going out to eat and have a beer, or getting to that party will all be important things to do. You have to nurture your social self and give yourself time away from coursework.
The second semester “slump” is real. But you don’t have to give in to it. Get going on some new things, meet some new people, get the support you need, and you’ll be able to “rock” the time until that wonder spring break comes along.