Beat the Post-Midterm Blues

Daylight savings has ended, the first set of midterms is over, and the icy winter air makes it that much more tempting to sleep in and skip an early morning class. Sometimes it feels as though the first few weeks of November will never pass, making Thanksgiving and Christmas seem a world away. However, as dreadful as these cold winter months may sometimes seem, scientific research shows that being stuck in a rut is all in our head. Here are some tips from the pros to successfully getting through the second half of the semester!

Try something new
Sign up for yoga, study in a different area on campus, join an intramural team, or read that book that has been sitting on the shelf since last spring. Dr. Alex Lickerman from Psychology Today says that trying new things keeps you from being bored. When your brain gets accustomed to the same mundane schedule, it starts to plateau, and that causes you to feel you’re stuck in a rut. Lickerman also says that trying something new stimulates personal growth and gives you the possibility to enjoy something different. Or you can try this 30-day challenge from Google engineer Matt Cutts, and the semester’s end will be here in no time.

Catch up on some shut-eye
Sleep is not for babies. Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute, says “college students are one of the most sleep-deprived demographics in our population.” Getting a sufficient amount of sleep will help you to improve your memory and focus in classes. The National Institute of Health even found that students who sleep less have lower GPAs. So as tempting as it may be to pull all-nighters, you will be doing yourself a favor by getting ahead on your next project earlier in the day so that you can give more of a priority to your REM cycle.

Set short-term goals
If you weren’t happy with a midterm score, go talk to your professor or reflect on what you can change. Neurologists say that the moment we set a goal, our brain immediately begins to treat that goal as though it’s already being accomplished. Your brain subconsciously sets you up for success. When you set a goal, you make yourself accountable for your progress. If you fear you will forget about your goals with all the stress of school, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Caroline Miller recommends changing your passwords to remind you daily (“gradwithhonors1” “AinChem105”) of what you want to achieve.

Whatever the reason for the rut you may be in, science shows that it’s all one big mind game. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.”

photo credit: miguelavg via photopin cc

-Madison Parks, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences


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