How can we get out of the New Years Slump?
To break free from the post-New Years slump, we must first realise what causes it in the first place.
The festive period can be a wonderful time, however it leaves us vulnerable to becoming deeply embedded in our comfort zones. First comes Advent- we indulge in streets illuminated by fairy lights; christmas markets made of woodhuts; winter wonderland themed window displays; concerts; christmas soundtracks (even the trashier tunes have an aesthetic tone to them) and films which work up a feeling of nostalgia within us, that traces back through many an encounter with the month of December – we already feel we’ve escaped reality.
This is followed by Christmas Day – we seem to spend most of the day sitting in the lounge with our families; opening gifts and consuming over 4000 calories of Christmas Dinner and Alcohol – the slump continues to sink in. Finally there is Hogmanay -here there’s more alcohol topped off with lots of cheering, banter, soon-to-be-broken resolutions and very heavy hangovers to follow the next morning. By the beginning of January, we are so overwhelmed by that buzzing atmosphere that we can barely move, and it doesn’t make matters any better that a new term is about to start.
Although getting out our comfort zones is torture, there have always been useful ways to get back into navigating through our academic careers.
Among them is getting into the habit of reading. Whether it is fiction or non fiction, exposure to text has always evoked a sense of mental stimulation, which is relevant in a sense that it is an activity that trains your mind into getting back into a condition where you are well prepared for researching and writing essays, presentations or dissertations which all lie ahead in the upcoming semester. Through reading books, we are also opening ourselves up to building ideas and playing about with them – I find this enhances a sense of enlightenment, and it has great potential to also enhance our concentration and imagination – all which are the “must haves” for getting through all that academic warfare.
Another way to escape the slump which we all fall into is (and I know this is something many people prefer to avoid) physical exercise. I often find that a session in the gym is a reasonably great mood enhancer; it releases a lot of endorphins and also brings on a feeling of pro – activeness which is always good for getting us prepared for the second semester. Although cardio can do wonders, if sprinting on the treadmill for half an hour is not something you fancy then even just taking a long walk around Kelvingrove Park, or any other part of the city can evoke that sense of pro -activeness. You have the advantage of exposing yourself to fresh air, even if it is a cold crisp period that branches out over the course of January and February.
Furthermore, I often find that meeting up with university friends can be great motivation for bouncing back. Whether its flatmates or friends from our course or a club or society that we belong to – a chat, a catch up or any other form of communication with familiar faces after a period that feels like a long time can evoke the social stimulation we once had with them before the holidays and that – more often than not – gets us up and buzzing. It’s even more of an advantage when reuniting with our friends that we are reminded of the environment which we know them from and that social contact can help us re – capture the familiarity of the life we led at University and get us back into the active mindset which switched off the month before.
Overall, I often find that getting out of the festive slump and back into academic life can be achieved through activities that stimulate and energise us in the intellectual, social and physical sense. Although I also find that what makes it difficult to many is our need to do it all at once and in the space of a short amount of time. But there isn’t any need for us to do that; It’s more effective to perform it all at a steady pace, for not only is there that chance of burning out, there is also that possibility of working up a lot of stress and anxiety in the process. Through taking things slowly, and only putting a moderate amount of pressure on ourselves, we can break free from our New Year’s Slumps that developed over the holidays in an efficient way and go so far as not even noticing.
Article by Greg Marlborough