How to get over a Holiday Hangover and Kickstart your Year
While I've always thought of hangovers as those bad feelings that bodies have when their owners make irresponsible imbibing choices, apparently the term confers a similar phenomenon in education: the total and utter lack of any motivation (and sometimes, mild depression) that occurs on January 2nd, when you realize you must return back to the routines of normal, every day, life.
What can I say? Life just feels a bit bleaker when you're forced to leave your warm and comfy bed to face the cold and harsh realities of 8 AM in a classroom. While some students will take recent announcements about returning to distant learning models as an auspicious sign to continue reveling in the luxuries of unstructured time, just like President Trump, delaying the inevitable will only make things harder in the end. Eventually, you'll return to school, and find yourself needing to shake off the lethargy and sloth that holiday breaks make so easy to acquire.
And so, without further ado, here are some ways you can kick your butt back into school/work gear.
Tip 1: Know that this feeling of "doom and gloom" is temporary
Known as "The Contrast Effect" or "Post-Vacation Syndrome," scientists have acknowledged our utter lack of motivation as being the result of our brains having a tantrum. Apparently, a few weeks is enough for your brain to get acclimated to the freer way of living, and it essentially has a meltdown at the sudden change in pace. Practicing radical acceptance, and knowing that this is a normal reaction to rapid change, will help you get over the hump faster.
Tip 2: Get back into a routine early
We know that part of why people get post-holiday blues is because of the stark contrast between holiday and "real" life. In order to reduce the effect, you need narrow the gap between them. That means getting yourself back onto a normal school sleep schedule (gradually), planning out your days, and scheduling meal breaks (trust me - you'll thank me in the end). Sruti Bandlamuri from Union College suggests that you give yourself a full 7 days before school starts, however, I think you can get by with only 3.
Tip 3: Set some goals & make a plan
Part of the bleakness of the holiday hangover is the thought that you've had all the fun to be had for the foreseeable future, which isn't very exciting. Planning out what you have to look forward to (even if it's making a plan for what to do during your next break) will put a bit more pep in your step. Now, I'm not asking you to list all of the things that you NEED to do, but rather things that you will look forward to. One of the ways that I get back into the groove of school is by planning out my next little mini-vacation (where I typically go travel to semi-remote places and get out in nature). While you're at it, do a little reflection about which habits supported you, and which ones didn't. The more that you can finetune your habits and routines, the more you'll optimize your rates of success in sticking to new goals about learning.
Tip 4: Throw some money at the problem
Perhaps this hack works because I am
artificially inflating my serotonin levels through the anticipation (and receiving) of goods, but nothing helps get me more in the mood for school than a little round of school supply shopping. Do I really need a new pair of wireless headphones for school? No. But do I want some, and can I tell myself that I need them to hear my professors better? Yes! You get the idea. You don't have to splurge, though - something as simple as new pencils can help reinforce your willingness to hoof it back into the classroom.
Happy New Year Strivers, and good luck at school!