The temperatures are dropping and the days are getting shorter. It’s the season where all you want to do is wrap up warm, stay indoors and relax – but with coursework and assignments to complete, how do you stay productive and maintain your focus?
Start by reading these 10 study tips for surviving winter – they’re brrr-illiant.
1. Winter study breaks
It might seem like a smart idea to cram all of your day’s learning into one intense session so that it’s over and done with as quickly as possible – however, you’ll be less productive in the long run if you take this approach.
Taking regular short study breaks (at least one per hour) actually enables you to divide your study session into less daunting and more manageable chunks. And according to Psychology Today, study breaks increase productivity and creativity, and help you to consolidate memories.
2. Exercise to enhance winter study
It might be cold enough to make Good King Wenceslas look out briefly before closing his curtains and retreating to his royal boudoir, but that doesn’t mean you should stay huddled up inside with your course materials. Prolonged study periods can really take their toll on your body, so in addition to taking small regular breaks, brave the cold to grab a bit of outdoor exercise.
So slip on your puffer jacket and beanie and head outside for brisk walk – stroll during daylight hours so that you can soak up some much-need Vitamin D to keep your bones and muscles healthy.
If you fancy a particular lengthy walk, you could even record yourself reading your study materials or find a relevant podcast in order to listen and learn while you explore the winter wonderland outside your home.
3. Healthy winter study food
Junk foods such as chocolate and crisps might temporarily spike your energy levels, but once the sugar and salt rushes subside, you’ll soon crash. Healthy and nutritious foods are far more effective for study because they help boost your brainpower.
For example, for winter warmth you can’t beat a big bowl of hot homemade soup containing loads of fresh veg and perhaps some lean meat too – prepare yourself a huge pot the day before you study to save time and you’ll have an ample supply to last you a good few study sessions. For inspiration, check out these winter soup recipes on BBC Good Food.
4. Stay hydrated for peak winter study performance
Few things are as satisfying as an ice-cold glass of water on a blazing summer’s day. However, in the winter when the weather outside is arctic and you’ve got a mountain of material to work through, a cold drink is probably the last thing you’re craving. However, it’s just as essential to stay hydrated during the winter months by drinking plenty of water.
There are many benefits of drinking water, for starters, it helps regulate your internal body temperature so you can withstand those cold winter temperatures. There’s no universally agreed quantity of water you should drink, although a common recommendation is to apply the 8×8 rule – drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day.
5. Have a cuppa to chill out during winter study breaks
Hot drinks such as tea and coffee are especially popular during the winter months. And although these drinks often suffer from a bad reputation because they contain caffeine, research has found that a small amount of caffeine can help improve your cognitive function.
So whilst you’re studying this winter, head to the kitchen and make yourself a brew – it’ll warm your cockles and allow you a small break from study as you prep the perfect cuppa.
6. Reward yourself for winter study successes
With darkness kicking in a lot earlier during the winter months, you might find it more challenging to stay motivated and energised into the evening hours.
So starting a study rewards system is an excellent way to remain focused and energised. Your rewards should be either time-based (for example, watching some YouTube videos after one hour of working) or checkpoint-based (perhaps treating yourself to a hot chocolate after reading through three chapters of material). Either way, you’ll feel more motivated to knuckle down when a comforting treat is always on the cards.
7. Create a smash hit winter study playlist
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to make those dark winter study days a bit brighter, it’s music. The right selection of tunes can help boost your mood, lower your stress levels and enhance your concentration by blocking out distracting background noise.
Everyone’s tuneful taste is different though, so find out what genres work best for you and put together a playlist. With Christmas around the corner, it’s the perfect excuse to compile a cracking Crimbo playlist that will leave you feeling festive yet focused while you study.
8. Get some winter study shuteye
Getting plenty of sleep is crucial to your studies all year-round, but particularly in the winter, because the decrease in daylight hours disrupts the circadian rhythm which regulates your body clock and makes you feel unnaturally tired.
It’s therefore important that you get plenty of sleep at this time of year so that when you sit down to study you feel refreshed and raring to go. Check out the National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time guidelines to ensure you’re getting enough shuteye for your age and stage.
9. Change Your winter study environment
When Mother Nature delivers her cold and dismal weather, don’t fall into the trap of staying holed up in your house like a hermit – you might start to feel isolated, which could negatively impact your studies.
Changing your study environment from time to time is a better approach. For example, you could head to a local café and sample the winter menu whilst working through some of your course material. You’d be surprised how fun and relaxing studying can be when you’re in fresh surroundings.
10. Start a winter study group
With the shorter days and miserable weather, it’s tempting to hole yourself up at home and focus firmly on your studies whilst your social life dwindles. But using a Learning Management System like Canvas to set up a virtual study group allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds – you’ll benefit from human contact while keeping your brain in brilliant shape.
You can take turns testing each other on course content and swap essays to review – plus, if you schedule in some small catch-up breaks into your study sessions, you’ll be able to maintain the right balance between study and socialising.
Studying during the winter months is never easy, but by following these 10 terrific tips you’ll stay on track until spring has sprung.
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