How students can stay sharp over the summer
If you're a student who is currently letting out a really long breath after finishing exams - you may start to feel a combination of two odd things - relief, and anxiety. The relief is completely justified. Regardless of how you think you did during exams - they are stressful, and you should feel relieved to put them in the rearview.
Now... about that anxiety. After a stressful year, students can start to feel anxious just sitting around during the summertime months. After getting used to focusing on getting ahead during the year, we can have trouble when it comes to dealing with that itch in the calmer months.
Our team is constantly in contact with all kinds of students. All of us have also been there at some point. We thought it would be a helpful for a lot of people if we shared the best strategies for dealing with this anxiety. These tips are coming from both our team, and the students they work with who have decided to share their own strategies.
1.) Pick productive hobbies
Everybody has to make decisions on how to fill their free time. For some people who make this decision; its important to pick something that is enjoyable and valuable. Be this type of person. Avoid spending your free time on whatever it is you find yourself in front of (Netflix). Instead spend some energy thinking about what experiences can actually enrich your life. Universities and employers want to see depth to you - the best way to supplement good grades is by demonstrating that you actively pursue your interests. It doesn't matter if want to make a short film, start knitting, or finally start learning french - spend real energy on it and you'll see the benefits in so many ways.
2.) Learn recreationally about something you hate
There is no better way to push your academic and mental limits than exposing yourself to a subject that you dislike or don't understand. If you're an academic it might be an artistic subject, a student really into maths might consider looking into something historical. The possibilities are endless - and everybody has got a subject that they generally avoid. The truth is that the summer break is really the only time to address this weaknesses. During the year we find ourselves so busy - that the luxury of pursuing a subject outside of our area of interest (creating an actually enjoyable course-load would be the subject of another post entirely) is pretty much out of the question.
3.) Try a new music genre
Similar to the above point - trying a new music genre (or anything new) is another great way to expand your horizons. It might sound wishy-washy but the truth is that we really are a product of what we surround ourselves with. It's easy to fall into our habits and stop growing, but actively seeking out new perspectives will help keep you grounded. This is important for anyone experiencing anxiety as it calmly reminds us that the world will always keeps spinning.
4.) Create a recreational learning schedule
So the word "schedule" doesn't sound to great in the context of "summer". That's why its important to mold a "summer schedule". Nobody knows you like you do - so use that knowledge to figure out a reasonable goal and a structure you will actually stick to. Even if it is just one day per week; decide on the frequency you want, and stick to it! If you are able to stick to a very easy schedule not only will you feel more productive and less anxious; you'll also be able to enjoy the rest of your summer completely guilt-free.
5.) Find people smarter than yourself and do not leave them alone
It's the fastest way to learn. So fast in fact that it's almost cheating! If you're going to spend time with others anyway; go ahead and make sure that they are the sharp kind. This is a great way of not just picking up the secret-habits of these people (making yourself more like them in the process) - but also seeing how they deal (dealt) with "summertime anxiety". If you don't have a lot of these people in your life readily accessible; fear not! Simply follow the other points on this list and you are bound to meet many new and interesting people.
6.) Hit the gym
Exercise, swim, bike, pick up soccer again! There are endless options and being active will make you feel more productive with your time. There is also the added benefit of better health and an improved learning ability. Believe it or not your body releases a ton of helpful substances when you exercise. You'll feel better because you actually will be improving each time you exercise.
7.) Get a job, volunteer, or travel
The point is - find a way to get some experience. Imagine you were a job interviewer. Which experiences about a candidate would make you want to find out more? A interesting job at a young age? A challenging volunteer position? Travel experience to a culturally foreign land? All of these things will help to paint the picture of a person with a wealth of experiences behind and in-front of them. You don't need to travel far, and you don't need the highest paying job in the world. Instead focus on picking something you genuinely want to do - and in the process of making it happen accrue as much experience as possible.
By no means should you stick to just one of these suggestions. Ask yourself if you are really making the most of your time, and if not; be honest and determine if that is the source of your anxiety. Chances are... yes. The first few weeks of summer are great! But once we get tired of lazing about - its easy for the anxiety to settle in as we start to feel that our precious time is being wasted. Follow the suggestions on this list and you'll be sure to feel more productive.
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