Congratulations on finishing this past term! As students ourselves, we can just imagine the countless naps, coffee runs, study sessions, and peer support it took to tackle all the assignment deadlines and assessments. We also understand how hard of an adjustment it can be to go from having a packed daily schedule to a suddenly clear one (or so it seems). You may be facing a week off (for spring or winter break) or a couple of months off in between semesters. What do you do with all this time on your hands? Luckily, we will be covering some activities to consider in conjunction with “downtime” in this post.
We know, the last thing you want to do is relive the trauma of exam and assignment season. But with every semester comes substantial room for individual and academic growth. Sometimes, this can be seen in your final course assignment grade, compared to your very first assignment’s grade. But what changes did you make between these assignments to make the outcomes different?
When reflecting on your past term, ask yourself these questions:
Depending on how you feel, you can use these “work in progress” areas as jumping-off points for next semester. Speaking of which…
If you are on a break between semesters (aka longer than a week or two), you can work ahead to make your next term less overwhelming by:
In a way, these steps can be viewed as long-term planning ones. In our time-management post, we talked about how beneficial this range of organizing can be for excelling in your courses: https://rrclibrary.libguides.com/ASC_Student_Blog/Time_Management
Similarly, if you are only on a shorter break (e.g. reading week or winter holidays), you can try out the following:
This can be considered short-term planning. In the same blog mentioned above, we outlined how beneficial this can be as well. Check it out!
Set Goals, such as SMART ones for yourself:
Specific: Which skill will you improve?
Measurable: How will you see improvement?
Achievable: Can you do it?
Realistic: Does it fit your current lifestyle?
Time-oriented: Set a time-line. “I will practice ______ for ___ days a week.
You now have time to practice self-care and push aside the stress of exams and assignments. Focusing on your well-being is a key skill to being a student when navigating the assignments, deadlines and tests. One skill we wrote on earlier we feel is valuable to maintaining composure during times of stress is mindfulness: https://rrclibrary.libguides.com/ASC_Student_Blog/Mindfulness
Being able to take a moment to breath and let go of our worries is a valuable life-skill to have. We call it a skill because it is something that can be practiced and improved. It’s easier said than done to sit down and not worry about all of the school work that’s on your plate. Taking time during the holidays to practice being mindful will help you prepare to take on the next semester!
Excerpt on the meditation cycle from our earlier blog!
If you find yourself struggling to focus or stay on task with meditation, remember this cycle!
Like anything, meditation takes time, effort and practice. You will get distracted and notice your mind wandering. THAT’S OKAY!
After coming off of a stressful season of final papers and exams it’s time to get some of your personal life back! Jumping into hobbies you enjoy is a great way to unwind, relax and rejuvenate. Read a book, play an instrument or binge that Netflix series you’ve been meaning to get to. Get together with friends and family for a game night or a family dinner. Getting back to what you enjoy will foster more positive emotions that will help you feel refreshed for next semester.
In our emotions blog https://rrclibrary.libguides.com/ASC_Student_Blog/Emotions, we mentioned the importance of excitement, curiosity and optimism has in learning. The holidays can be a great time to engage in the things you enjoy in life. Lending yourself to a positive mindset can not only make you more receptive to the learning environment, but also improve your overall mental health and ways of coping with academic stress.
Remember that the holidays are a time of rest and rejuvenation! Hopefully these tips that have helped us along the way as students will help you to get a handle on the next semester of your program, whether your headed into your second semester or your fourth!
We hope you’ve found these posts collectively insightful in more ways than one and that you are able to use them to succeed in your academic lives.
Have a safe and happy holidays,
From Chelsey and Cody!
Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 359(1449), 1367–1378. http://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2004.1512
Nasrullah, S., & Khan, M. S. (2015). The Impact of Time Management on Students' Academic Achievements. Journal of Literature, Language and Linguistics, 11, 60-71. Retrieved February 20, 2019