Cummings: Don’t fall into the winter slump


Students climb aboard CyRide so they don’t have to walk to their classes in the snowstorm.

Kelsey Cummings

As the warm summer weather slowly hides itself behind the clouds and the tease of fall grips us in its chill, college students all across America seek refuge in their cozy, sheltered beds.

Unmotivated and uninspired, college kids in the colder months can barely work up enough energy to go outside, let alone wake up inspired and ready to begin the day. How are we to maintain the same level of drive and creativity that most of us feel at the beginning of the school year all the way to the end?

The first step is to try. If you’re OK with sluggishly rolling about campus and completing (or not completing) your homework with only half the effort you probably should have put into it, then disregard the entirety of this post. For the rest of you, read on.

Good, you’ve made it this far. See? You’ve already got a head start on getting back into that beginning-of-the-year groove. You’re motivated. Now here’s why you need to stay that way.

College is the place you go to learn about your work before you actually go to work. So it makes sense that you would want to take advantage of the time that you’re here to learn as much as you possibly can about your field so that when real-life obligations come, you don’t fall flat on your face.

Getting good grades is one way to gauge how much you’re learning. If your grades are up, then you can assume you have at least a decent grasp of the information. But don’t rely solely on your grades. There’s a big difference between understanding and retaining information and just being a good test-taker.

Not only is it important to remember to do your homework, but it’s also important to leave time for other activities. Overworking yourself into a tired mess will do as much damage as skipping classes. It’s hard to feel motivated when you haven’t had the chance to relax and recharge in a few weeks.

If you’re starting to find yourself spending less time functioning as an actual human being and spending more time lying in bed watching Netflix all day, here are a few tips for shedding that winter slump.

1) Don’t give up on working out. I understand how difficult it can be. Most of us already work out daily (or at least on some sort of regular basis), and yet the chill of the colder months can be seriously demotivating. Set yourself an alarm every day and force yourself to get dressed. Once you’re in your workout clothes, it’s harder to make an excuse not to go. Shedding a little winter weight can make you feel healthier and happier, and less like a hibernating bear.

2) Try not to gorge yourself on food. To go along with number one, eating too much and not working out can start a vicious habit of gaining weight and losing motivation. For a lot of us, feeling too full makes us tired and lethargic, which aren’t the best feelings to have when there are projects to be done. Save the post-Thanksgiving coma for after Thanksgiving.

3) Take pictures. Almost everyone’s phone has a built-in camera these days, and most college students walk to class with their faces directed at their phones anyway. Stop and look around. Take some photos of appealing things around campus. Whether you’re a good photographer or not, feeling inspired can spark creativity, and creativity means the urge to get things done.

4) Get a job. Though this might seem counterintuitive to studying, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics found that students who work get better grades than students who don’t. As long as you don’t work too much, having a job can actually help motivate you to schedule your time more effectively and therefore study more effectively. Too much free time can lead to slacking off, so get a job to fill those hours.

5) Socialize. It can be easy to lose interest in going out or hanging out with friends when there’s snow on the ground, but making time for friends is a necessary way to relax and let the burdens of school go for a while. You can hit the books once you’ve recharged a little.

The point of all this is to find the right balance. Make time to study and make time to socialize. If you were doing well at the beginning of the semester, consider what you were doing that helped make you so successful. Then keep doing it.

Don’t let a little cold get to you.