Getting back into the semester after any break can be difficult. After having so much time off to indulge in leisurely activities and spend quality time with family it can be hard to get back into the groove of things. Beyond that, just getting back to a normal sleeping schedule and demanding academic requirements can be daunting.
As the time to actually commit to those schedules we made months ago at the end of the fall semester approaches, you may find yourself stressed and altogether just not ready to get back to work. But, with the proper time management, mental health prioritization, and planning this can all be very manageable and even enjoyable.
One thing that has really helped me get back into the swing of things so far is planning ahead for the semester in general. The Tennessee Tech, College of Graduate Studies’s article also lends some insight into this. They recommend getting accustomed to your spring semester schedule by starting to follow that schedule during the end of your winter break.
Essentially, it is the equivalent of your mom making you follow your bedtime the week before school starts. This allows your body and mind to get accustomed to your new schedule without the added pressure of syllabus week, school related requirements and moving back in.
Some examples they give are waking up at the time you would normally wake up for classes, engaging your mind academically with studying or reading, and eating when you would probably be eating during the semester. This can be implemented the week before the semester starts or just the beginning of the semester before things get too chaotic.
By easing yourself back into these rhythms, it won’t feel so jarring to start all at once when the semester becomes more and more demanding. I also find a good tool for me that helps me get into a “back to school” mindset is shopping.
Obviously the beginning of any semester can be tough financially, but if you have the means, buying a pack of cheap multicolored pens, a new notebook or even just a new item of clothing can make the semester seem a little less bleak. By giving yourself reasons to look forward to this upcoming time it can seem less intimidating and even exciting.
The Tennessee Tech article also recommends making a schedule and creating new goals going into the semester. As far as a schedule goes, outside of the obvious class times it also urges students “to schedule in set study times, gym sessions, and extracurricular activities at set times each day”.
I find this tip very helpful because I tend to function better on a schedule, specifically a written one. One thing I have done in the past that makes this tip work better for me is keeping a planner or a calendar. This allows me to hold myself accountable for my schedule and commit it to memory.
Setting goals for the semester can get you more motivated for the classes to come. Instead of just getting through classes, which I am very guilty of doing, you can become motivated to excel in classes with the goals you set in mind.
The article stresses that you keep these goals realistic so that you do not become discouraged if you don’t achieve all your goals. I think this is very important and touches on something I find very important when beginning any semester: Being gentle with yourself.
The academic and social demands of school can be a lot for anyone, especially after coming back from spending your time how you want. While these demands are important, so is prioritizing your mental health.
I think the beginning of the semester, above all else, is a unique period of the semester that allows you to be gentle with yourself. This is a time where you can just do what you can, go easy on yourself when you can’t, and treat yourself when possible before things get too stressful.