Beat the Back-to-School Blahs
So. You had a long, luxurious break spent gorging yourself on food, friends and free time. You wasted away the days sleeping in, watching movies and making sandwiches, leaving the mess for someone else to clean up. You had a wonderful, lazy, ridiculous few weeks off.
..Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and school has presented itself as an inevitability that you are suddenly dreading with every fiber of your being. You have begun your goodbyes: “Goodbye, social life! Sayonara free time! Adios fun!” and begun your hellos: “Hello boring academic reading! Bonjour exhaustion! Ola junk food!”. Suffice to say you’re probably not feeling great about the coming semester. Visions of
sugarplums summer vacation are dancing in your head.
Never fear! Your guide to beating the blahs is here!
1. Make it easier for yourself
Get organized! Pick up some colourful binders, label them and keep your notes filed away where you can easily find them. If possible, take an interesting, easy course. Re-arrange your schedule so that it fits your life: for example, eliminate early classes. Stock your freezer with quick, easy meals like perogies, lasagna, edamame, pizza, burgers, bagels, frozen dinners, etc. Make it easy for you to eat whole, balanced meals instead of skipping them or ordering food (expensive!). Stock up on essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, toothpaste, etc, so that you don’t have to always be running to the store for more.
Anything that you can do now, up front, to make it easier for yourself in the long run, I encourage you to do! That way, later on, when you’re running out of energy, time, and any essentials, you’ll be grateful to yourself for having cleared away some of the muck and creating a slightly easier existence.
2. Inject fun into your routine
Brighten your note-taking with colourful pens and/or paper. Schedule a study/textbook reading/cooking gourmet food date with a friend once a week. Make time for your personal special activities: turn the computer off one hour earlier and spend the time reading, writing, drawing, dreaming. Take the scenic route to class. Create elaborate meals whenever you have time. Dress up for school. Take a bubble bath instead of a shower. Watch part of a movie every time you finish a reading/assignment. Reward yourself for doing annoying tasks (laundry, dishes, toilet-cleaning?) with candy, a magazine, a new eye shadow, etc. Resolve to wind down with a glass of wine once or twice a week. Listen to music while you’re getting ready in the morning.
I know people who say they just don’t have any time for fun. That’s nonsense! As long as you make a small effort in your day to stop and smell the roses & appreciate the little things, you’ll be happy at the end of every day, rather than burnt out and depressed.
3. Fix what’s broken
Replace that old towel that never dries you off properly. Buy a shoe rack so that it’s easier to find and organize your shoes. Write yourself a reminder to water the plants, take out the garbage, etc, etc. Pick your clothes up off the floor. Move that table that you keep running into. Re-organize your kitchen cabinets so it’s easier to reach the things you use most often. Hang up that picture that’s been leaning against the wall since March. Buy a timer for the oven so that you stop burning things. Re-arrange the furniture so that you feel more zen. Get to class earlier so you don’t get a bad seat.
By ‘broken’ I mean not working. Take a good look at your life, your home, your daily routine, and hone in on the things that annoy you every day. There are most likely several things that bug you on a daily, weekly or occasional basis that only require a few minutes of effort to change. In order to have a successful semester, try tweaking a few things in your life to keep you running smoothly and happily throughout the school year.
4. Make your space beautiful
Buy new linens for your bed and make it a cozy, nest-y haven. Keep photos of friends and family around all the time. Clear the clutter off your desk or workspace. Cover the walls with magazine cutouts, photos, murals, collages, artwork. Keep all your favourite things in plain sight. Colour-code your bookshelves. Paint the walls your favourite colours. Hang up a blackboard and write inspirational quotes on it in colourful chalk. Buy scented candles. Have living things: pets, plants, flowers. Always have soft music playing.
Make your house a home, a place where you love to be. Make your bed just for sleeping so that when you cozy down into your fluffy duvet, it feels luxurious and comfy. Light candles, play music, keep beautiful things all around you. When exams roll around, it will be nice to have a special, comfortable place that relaxes and calms you.
5. Cut back on time-wasters
One of the things I’ve never understood are people who complain and complain about how exhausted, burnt out and stressed they are, who complain about having absolutely no free time, and who spend several hours a day on facebook. Huh? I don’t get it. Unless your desired use of what little free time you have is to creep people on the internet, than this whole statement doesn’t make sense. The sad part is, I know people who say that no, they have no free time and no, time spent on facebook doesn’t count as free time. Wait, what? So they’d rather be doing activities that they actually enjoy, like reading a novel, riding their bike, hanging out with friends? And they can’t do those things because they don’t have time? But they have time to log into facebook for hours at a time? Confusing.
I’m not exactly a saint on the social media front, and I have logged a good chunk of time on facebook, but I would never claim that I had no time for activities I enjoy. I simply chose to spent that free time online instead of engaged in interesting activities. One of my resolutions for the new year is to cut down on time wasters. Force yourself off of facebook, off of twitter, off your blog reader, stop watching tv shows you don’t even enjoy, quit checking your email 340 times a day, and focus. Force yourself to find other ways to spend that time. Force yourself to do a more mindful activity. It won’t be easy, since your brain would initially prefer to be on autopilot skimming through pictures of that weird kid from high school’s family reunion, but your soul will thank you in the end. Pump up the creativity!
And Breathe Deep!
Find joy in the little things. Always plan so that you have something to look forward to. Put in the work every day so you don’t have to cram at the very end. Spend some time every day re-centering yourself, relaxing, and breathing deep. Work hard, play hard, focus in class (my very best advice to myself, it’s the single best way to spend less time reviewing at the end of the course), don’t procrastinate. Make time for the special things. Get enough sleep and good food. Don’t burn yourself out. Smile.
And banish those blahs!