Now that the holiday break is over and the jolly cheer has subsided, winter quarter is a looming force for the new year. Most of us kick off winter quarter with great expectations and resolutions, but these goals seem to quickly fade away as cold weather, parking issues and deadlines become all too real.
Have you ever noticed that typically during the months of winter quarter, attendance seems to drop as more and more people skip class? You might also notice people are less involved on campus and seem to be impatient during this time of year.
Some of these behaviors have simple explanations, such as the time you hit snooze, slept in instead of attending your 8 a.m. lecture because you stayed up late watching Netflix. However, a more serious concern could be Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a spout of depression or moodiness that occurs in tandem with specific times of year.
SAD is most common in late fall through winter. Symptoms include feelings of depression, difficulty concentrating, low energy, changes in activities and appetite and tiredness or oversleeping. These symptoms are common during the winter quarter slump that many of us students experience.
Although this seasonal spout of lacking motivation and struggling to tolerate colder weather is inevitable for many college students, there is a fine line between missing a class or two and letting your grades suffer.
Below are a few tips in order to beat the winter quarter slump, and stay successful and on top of your deadlines. While these tips are much easier said than done, it doesn’t hurt to change your behaviors and attitudes about the winter quarter and season to be more positive and motivated. There are bound to be days of tiredness, procrastination and even sadness, but adapting your lifestyle and reactions to these seasonal slumps can make a world of difference during the new year.
EXCHANGE CONTACT INFORMATION WITH TWO CLASSMATES
The first few days of class can be incredibly telling for how your quarter is going to go and it is always beneficial to make friends with some classmates within the first week of class. By exchanging numbers and emails with your peers, you have created some insurance for yourself for that extra chilly morning when you let yourself sleep in and miss a class. With this, you are able to reach out to your colleagues and ask what the class agenda was or for a picture of their lecture notes. The benefit of having more than one classmate’s information is that you have a backup to reach out and get your questions resolved if the other classmate also missed class or didn’t take notes. You may also end up making a friend or two that extends beyond the class along the way!
KEEP A DETAILED CALENDAR
If you aren’t already in the habit of using a planner or journal to track deadlines, meetings, work and events, then winter quarter 2019 is the perfect opportunity to start. This has been a habit that I recently started back in fall quarter, and I can see how it has changed my academic career! I went out and purchased a planner that inspired me, and because I thoroughly enjoy my planner’s appearance, I believe I have been more prone to use it continuously. On Sundays, I write out what I need to do each day of the upcoming week, including classes, homework, readings, emails I need to send, phone calls that must be made and any upcoming meetings or events I have. I also write down my gym time and social time because by doing so you are able to visualize what you have planned and then prioritize based on the most important things and decide what can be pushed off. This habit will help keep you on track with your school and work responsibilities — and the more you do it, the more motivating it can be!
GET ON A BETTER SLEEP SCHEDULE AND EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST
This is often a hard one for college students because we are so busy and our schedules are often on the go. Homework and studying can make it hard to get to bed at a decent hour and staying up late causes a cycle of running late and exhaustion in the morning. This cyclical pattern can be tiring and may lead to a lack of energy needed to get your responsibilities completed. In order to break this endless cycle, you must force yourself to go to bed earlier. That means you may have to sacrifice an hour of leisure time to get more homework done and get into bed earlier, but the benefits far outweigh the missed TV or social media time. When you get the proper amount of sleep, your mood will improve, you can more readily concentrate at work and school and you will feel less over-exerted and more rested. Waking up early enough to make a healthy breakfast can also increase productivity and your mood throughout the day. You don’t need to cook up an entire breakfast buffet to accomplish this goal — a simple bowl of oats, fruit smoothie or whole grain toast will do you wonders for the day!
SPEND MORE TIME WITH NATURE
When the weather is cold, spending time outdoors in the winter may seem like an awful idea — but it is just the opposite! Having a little bit of time to spend in nature can greatly increase ones motivation and mood through the inspiration and fresh air that nature provides. A short walk around your neighborhood or a visit to some of Tacoma’s most popular outdoor spots — such as Point Defiance Park, Ruston Way Waterfront or Titlow Beach — will help you feel connected to the beautiful landscape of the South Sound and will surely inspire and help one to embrace the beauty of the winter season.