Finishing the Semester Strong after Break

By, Phoenix Robertson

Winter break is over and classes are back in session. I think it’s safe to say that no one, teachers and students alike, was ready to come back. The school year can feel draining and winter break is supposed to be a restorative period, but the stress holiday hub-bub and school on the horizon can deplete the calm mood. As a student who is also facing the frustration and stress that comes with returning to school after a long break, I’m going to share a few tips with you that I find to be helpful in overcoming these feelings and getting back on track with a solid schedule. 

Tip 1: Start slow.

It is extremely difficult to wake up at 6 am when just days ago that might have been the time you were going to sleep. Without the proper amount of sleep, getting up early in the morning and going to a full day of school can be hard. You are also not the best and most productive version of yourself if you aren’t on a proper schedule and haven’t had a full night of sleep. The effects of this can be seen in the quality of your school work, the way you interact with others, and the way you interact and deal with yourself.   

Slowly begin adjusting your work and sleep schedule to avoid shock and exhaustion. It can be hard to balance a hefty school load and demanding extracurriculars, but always remember that your health is more important. Get an adequate amount of sleep every night and try your best to complete all of your assignments done about 2 hours before you are planning to go to sleep. This way you can have the night off to rest and relax. Ultimately, you know yourself best, so work to create a schedule that works best for you. 

Tip 2: Find new study methods.

Studying can often feel repetitive; by finding new study methods that integrate breaks, you can beat the drilling feeling of doing the same thing repeatedly. Methods such as the Pomodoro method, the Retrieval method, and the Spaced Practice method all integrate breaks into the user’s study plan. Be sure to stay hydrated and eat nourishing snacks during your study periods to keep your energy levels up!

While on your study break, my main recommendation is to not do anything that you find stressful. Breaks give your brain the opportunity to rest, not giving yourself these opportunities can have negative effects on your concentration, quality of work, and mental health. It is also important to know when to give yourself a break. Your original goal may have been to study for 1 hour and then take a 15 minute break, but if you have studied for 45 minutes and feel completely exhausted, it is okay to take a break. No bragging rights or sense of pride should be attached to being able to study for the longest consecutive period or get the best grades. Every person is different and every persons’ goals should be different. Don’t compare yourself to others and remember that as long as you are trying your best who cares what else happens! 

Tip 3: It’s almost over!

It might not seem like it, but the school year is almost over. At Heritage High, we are currently closing in on semester 1 final exams and the end of the first semester of the school year. After the end of semester 1, only 1 semester is left and then summer break! Second semester will fly by and the year will be over before you know it. When you find yourself getting caught up in the stress of school and extracurricular activities, take a moment to appreciate the things around you. You can also take that time to think about the motivating factors in your life. What makes you want to achieve more? It could be friends, family, your future, or any number of things. Motivate yourself with these ideas in mind and you’ll be able to find the strength to power through your work. Keep going, and you got this!

Bonus Tip: Get a planner!

I have  been using either a school issued or personal planner since middle school and have found them very helpful in being able to block out my time and keep track of my tasks. All planners are different, so you should search for one that fits you and your needs best. The way they are used can also vary depending on their style. For example, a fitness planner may not be the best choice for measuring your academic performance and goals, so if you are trying to find a planner or notebook that would be useful for that purpose, I suggest looking elsewhere. Finding the right planner for you can be a bit of a trial and error process. When you are thinking about purchasing a new planner, take note of its format, the reviews it has received from other buyers, and its intended audience. All of these factors can help you find the best planner fit for you. 

I hope that you enjoyed reading my tips for adjusting going back to school after winter break and finishing the first semester strong. One important thing to keep in mind while studying and reading this article is that different things work for different people. I am not an expert in the field of information retention or how the brain responds to different methods of studying and different kinds of schedules. This article is a compilation of tips and tricks that I have found and that work for me. Feel free to adjust these ideas to fit you and your needs. Thank you for reading and comment down below if you have any other suggestions or tips that work for you!

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