7 Tips to Help You to Stay Sharp Over the Holidays
We get it – you’ve been working hard all semester long, so you’re looking forward to spending your winter break watching holiday movie marathons, attending ugly sweater parties, and drinking Grandma’s special eggnog. School’s out for winter and you don’t have a care in the world – right?
Wrong. Because something is lurking just beyond the holidays: next semester. So what’s a student to do? Below are 7 tips on how to stay sharp over vacation that – we promise! – are easier than you may think.
We promised you easy, didn’t we? After slogging through a long semester and cramming for exams, you’re probably more than a little sleep deprived. So pull up those warm winter comforters and catch up!
Once you’re all caught up on sleep, winter break is the perfect time to develop a consistent sleep cycle, which is essential to maintaining your body’s internal clock. Try to match your sleep pattern to what your schedule will be next semester. Don’t sleep vacation away – go to bed and wake up at reasonable hours, because doing so will help you transition smoothly into next semester. Plus it’ll free up more time to tackle our other winter break tips!
Strong reading habits are essential to keeping your mind sharp. Whether it’s a novel, an article on the NFL playoffs, a travel blog, or classic literature, read something that interests you. The benefits of reading for pleasure are no secret, so find something interesting that doesn’t feel like homework – and dive in! (If you still have no idea what to read, you can always check out the New York Times’ Bestseller List.)
3. Find A New Hobby
Have you ever wished you could play the guitar? Maybe you’d like to try your hand at woodworking? Are you curious about ballroom dancing? Go for it! Some hobbies are easier to get into than others, so go at a pace you’re comfortable with. The important thing is not how ambitious or complex your new hobby is; it’s that you continue to stimulate your mind through learning. Hobbies may require patience, but they’re fun and fulfilling.
Whether it’s a city you’ve never been to, a hike you’ve always wanted to take, or an island you’ve always wanted to visit, don’t be afraid to go someplace new. Traveling keeps you on your toes, forcing you to learn while navigating new environments (and giving you lifelong memories and invaluable experiences in the process).
TripAdvisor is a great resource for reviews, and sites like Kayak and SkyScanner make it easy to find the best flight prices. But start planning as soon as possible – prices only go up during the holidays.
5. Stimulate Your Brain
Do you like games? Try Perudo (or “Liar’s Dice”), a dice game filled with strategy, bluffing, and luck. Do you like music? Go see a local holiday concert. Do you like sweets? Build a gingerbread house. You already did? Build a gingerbread mansion. Just do something that prevents your critical thinking skills from getting too rusty.
Activities that require creative, abstract thinking (or at the very least, your attention) will help you get back into the swing of things come January. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your brain has to be!
You knew this was coming. You’ve heard it a million times, and here it is again: exercise is essential to staying sharp and keeping healthy. You don’t have to become an elite athlete. You don’t even need to join a gym! There are plenty of resources for home workouts and easy ways to stay in shape.
Doctors recommend just 20 minutes of exercise per day. Since all that time you spent going to class and doing homework is now free, commit 20 minutes each day to staying fit and you’ll be doing better than most. Besides, it’s never too early to start working on that summer break beach body.
7. Part-time work
Ok, maybe this one isn’t so easy, but part-time work during winter break can benefit you in several important ways. In addition to the obvious perks of making some money for your spring break trip, taking on some part-time work over the winter break can build your resume, grow your professional network, and demonstrate initiative to potential employers as you approach graduation. (Nontraditional students in college are likely familiar with this tip since they often work part-time jobs already.) Working part-time over winter break is an invaluable investment, both monetarily and professionally, so it’s in your best interest to start looking for employment opportunities ASAP.
Ultimately, how you decide to keep yourself sharp over winter break is up to you. But the more you take care of yourself, both mentally and physically, the better prepared you’ll be to hit the books next semester.