The winter holidays provide a time for relaxation, socialising with friends and watching too much TV. However, there’s also the prospect of impending January exams and several assignments to complete. Unless you’re very lucky, stress is something you’re likely to face at some point in your education. University can be demanding; it’s vital to know how to recognise and manage stress. So, how can you enjoy the festive holidays and get the most out of your revision time? Here is what you should do to ensure you have a fun and productive winter break:
Get organised and ask for advice
Work smarter, not harder. Those who have the most relaxed holidays are those who begin their preparation before the holidays start. Finalise your lecture notes early to save time, ensure that you ask any outstanding queries you may have with your course leaders and collect any useful readings or resources you may need over the Christmas period. If you are really struggling with your workload, make sure you speak to the people around you and course leaders before you leave university. It’s easy to feel detached from your lecturers when you’re in a class of 200 other students, but they are there to help with any concerns or questions you may have. They will be able to help you prioritise what needs to be done, help you find more productive ways of working, or redirect your revision timetable. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Enjoy yourself over the holidays
Establish a schedule that provides a balance between coursework completion, revision and binge-watching Christmas movies with a mince pie in hand. It can be hard to switch off for some, especially if you have been sent home with several assignments. The holidays are there to be enjoyed, so in the run up to January exams, take a few days to recover from the rapid pace of your first term. As your revision intensifies be sure to take regular breaks, eat healthily and sleep well. Whatever your revision routine is, decide on it and stick to it, to ensure you have time to unplug and unwind from university work. Taking time for yourself can counteract the effects of stress, leaving you feeling much better and focused for the next revision session.
As the holidays progress your levels of motivation may drop off, while the temptation to procrastinate and avoid work grows, ensure you remain motivated and keep a work/play balance by setting yourself a realistic end goal or treat at the end of a hard day’s work. Wanting to put off the workload will threaten your progress at numerous points, ensure you don’t fall into the cycle of ‘leaving your essay until tomorrow’ especially if you don’t have the time to. If you begin to feel a sense of panic or concern, keep calm, take a short break and come back with a fresh plan and perspective. Your ability to cope with revision pressure will go a long way to helping your performance in the exams when you return to university.
Make healthy choices
Evidence shows that being physically active helps mental wellbeing. If spending hours in the gym isn’t your thing, a brisk walk can help blow off the cobwebs (and the mince pies), relieving some of the feelings of stress. As well as this, eating healthily and getting enough sleep can make a real difference to how you feel each day. Don’t underestimate how much more energy seven or eight hours of sleep a night can deliver – or the boost you can get from choosing healthy snacks instead of junk food.
We hope that these top tips help you structure your winter break well and set you up for success for the upcoming January exams! Don’t forget to also include searching for graduate jobs and internships as part of your Christmas holiday plan!