Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Spring Semester: Staying Motivated

So, who else out there is a college student starting their spring semester right about now? If you are, and you live somewhere where for the first half of the term the word "spring" is a blatant lie (like New England) you know how hard it can be to stay motivated. I live in Massachusetts and although it's been winter technically since December 22, snow didn't start to fall until the week leading up to my return to school. Now there is snow on the ground, coupled with ice and slush, and it's been freeeezing out. And when it gets like that, the idea of getting out of bed and facing the day can seem like the worst possible idea ever, especially when your bed is so warm and comfy.

But it's college. And you pay for it. So you should probably move your butt and go to class. And do your homework. And take tests. As terrible as that all sounds now.

Except it really doesn't have to be that hard. I'm in my fourth year of higher education right now and I have suffered from college laziness with the best of them. I've stayed up late doing nothing, woken up late for class, skipped class, and procrastinated on my homework; in short, indulged in all the typical college bad habits. Because of this, I've also figured out how to keep myself on track, which I am now going to share with you!

1. Go to bed before/by midnight. 
I know how tempting it is to stay up late, especially if you're with your friends. But do you really need to stay up until 4am watching movies and goofing off when you have a class at 8 the next morning? No, you don't. Try to get to sleep before midnight that way you're well-rested for class the next day. Getting enough shut-eye can really improve your mood and motivation.

2. Get out of bed!
Just because you don't have class until noon doesn't mean you should stay in bed until 11:50. Get up and out of bed at a reasonable time, or at least a full hour before you have to go to class. This will give you time to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, or whatever else you need to do to wake your brain and body up. Going to class feeling like a zombie is going to get in the way of your focus and leave you feeling more drained at the end of class then you were at the beginning. And you probably won't learn much.

3. Try not to procrastinate.
Procrastination is the tempting demon for all college students, especially if you live in campus. With no parents to hound you and whatnot to do your homework, the fact that you can leave it all until the last minute and play video games in the time being, can be all too enticing. Don't do it! You will regret it, every single time. Try to do your homework (or at least get it started) the day it is assigned. Leaving it until an hour before its due is just going to stress you out more, leaving you in a less than pleasant mood. Trust me, getting it done at a reasonable time is going to save you a lot of grief and ensure that you're not pulling all-nighter every other day. Because as I said before, sleep is important!

4. Don't eat like crap.
Plenty of studies have been done on eating well vs. eating junk food and the all-over agreement is that is you eat crappy food, you're going to feel crappy. Too much sugar, fat and carbs is going to leave you feeling weighed down and lazy. You're not going to want to do as much and you'll probably suffer from a lot of stomach aches and the like. Don't let college be your excuse to eat too many pop tarts! It's not an excuse. If you have a meal plan, I would be severely surprised (and disappointed) if your dining hall doesn't offer healthy meal options. People at my school like to pretend that ours doesn't but it certainly does! Stay away from the fried food as much as possible and instead go for the salad bar, or the wheat pasta, or the fruit and yogurt. You're in college,  you know what' good for you and what' not, so use that knowledge and improve your diet. You'll feel a lot better and that will help you stay focused on your work and give you an extra boost in motivation.

5. Exercise is not the enemy.
Like many people, I used to hate the idea of exercise. As an English Literature major, I much preferred to stick my nose in a book for hours on end and not move until I had finished my newest novel. But last year, being mad at myself for gaining some weight, I took on the beast that is working out. And honestly, it' not so bad, and the more you do it, the more you like it. And the easier it gets! So try to work in things like stretching, weight lifting, running, and going for walks into your schedule. I know being a college student means that you're pretty busy, but even just 30 minutes of moving around can seriously lift your spirits and make you feel a hell of a lot better about yourself and all the work you have to get done.

6. Don't forget, you're paying for this.
When you're feeling really lazy and unmotivated (and we all have those days, no worries) try to remember that you're in college, and in the United States at least, that means you're paying for it. That's right, the fact that's you're in your dorm room or in class or writing a paper means that you, your family or whoever is pouring a whoooole lot of money into your education. And I mean thousands of dollars because college is not cheap. Try not to forget that when you're thinking about skipping class or jut passing on one of your homework assignments. Do you really want all that money to go to waste because you don't feel like getting out of bed for the fourth day in a row? No, I didn't think so.

Everyone has those lazy days, I know that, and every once in awhile we really do all need a break -a mental health day, if you will. But those days do not come two, three, four times a week. They should probably only come every three or four weeks. And if you can stay on track with your classes and your work, then those days you give yourself off or going to feel that much better.

So there you go, my tips to staying motivated in these cold, crappy months. Try to follow them and hopefully you'll be feeling better and finding it easier to get out of bed in the morning. 

Lady Unlaced

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