Queen's University Logo
IMPORTANT NOTICE Up-to-date COVID-19 information Click Here

Steps to shake off the winter blues toward healthier habits

By Melody Kang, 2nd-year Life Sciences student

It’s still cold outside, you miss your family, you just had a fight with your friend, and academics are piling up just like the pile of laundry you haven’t done in three weeks. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, the winter blues are a real phase for many, especially students who have numerous things on their plate, all of which could increase stress levels. This can have a negative impact on your school work by reducing concentration, motivation, and energy. However, fortunately, this blog post will be the first step to lifting your spirits, getting back on track, towards a successful semester.

Source: http://www.memes.com/searchresults/study/815139

Step One. Look Back.

Why are you feeling stressed? Perhaps you’ve been sleeping later than usual. Maybe you haven’t been eating as healthy as you used to. Have you been procrastinating projects and essays that are now all due on the same day? Recognize these bad habits as they are, and admit to yourself that this is where things can change.

Source: yahooentertainment.tumblr.com

Step Two. Make a Change.

If procrastination is your devil, here is a detailed weekly schedule with specific steps you can start to improve your time management.

If you’ve been sleeping later than usual, try cutting electronics right before bed. The blue light radiating from your phone or computer screen will lengthen the time your brain needs to produce melatonin, which is what tells our body it is time to sleep. In other words, it takes longer to switch from alertness to relaxation. If you regularly drink that large americano with an extra shot in the late afternoon, consider switching to decaf or tea.

If you’ve been feeling more down than usual, rethink your diet. When you’re in line at the cafeteria, consider leafy greens high in folic acid, such as spinach or broccoli, over that grilled cheese sandwich. Neglecting important nutrients and vitamins such as vitamin B has been linked to depression, tiredness, and insomnia.

If you’ve had enough motivation to go to the library but catch yourself being constantly distracted – follow the 50-10 rule. Study, do your readings, review course material for 50 minutes, but then take a well-deserved 10 minute break. Your brain isn’t meant to be in high focus for hours – no matter how much you want it to be. The 50-10 rule will help you combat the lack of concentration. Another way to increase focus is to get unplugged while you study! Constant messages on your phone or Facebook notifications disrupt your concentration even if you do not reply to them.

Source: julia-phi.tumblr.com

Step Three. Reward yourself.

After that change is made, it’s important to recognize the changes you’ve made, and to give yourself credit. Habit is a hard thing to shake off, and the fact that you have is an incredible thing.

Now go and conquer!

Photo courtesy of Carlos Andres Reyes under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.