Christmas – a season for celebration, relaxation and spending time with family and friends – can often seem incompatible with the demands of being a university student. With coursework deadlines looming and January exams to prepare for, finding solace during the Christmas period can be incredibly challenging. However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible. Finding a balance between your academic commitments and Christmas fun will only strengthen your ability to excel in the former and enjoy the latter guilt-free.
As someone who used to believe that spending my whole day working was the only way to excel academically; I cannot stress enough how misguided this can be. Research has shown that the secret to increased productivity is taking time off. This is because continuous time spent on-task can actually set off strain reactions, such as stress, fatigue and a negative mood. So whilst you should give yourself enough time to complete your assignments, Christmas provides the perfect excuse to prioritise some occasional down-time away from academia.
So, what to do when you’re not working? Arranging a Christmas dinner with some of your closest friends can be a great place to start. It doesn’t matter if you’re not celebrating the religious elements of the season, or don’t particularly fancy roast turkey, simply choose your own menu and location and take the opportunity to relax with your friends before term is out. You could take the afternoon off and head down to Exeter’s Christmas market, grab a coffee on campus with a coursemate, or make a weekend plan to venture out of Exeter and soak up the countryside.
There is of course a tension: whilst you can spend time with university friends during the first couple of weeks of the festive season, this can often be at the expense of keeping in touch with family and friends back home. It can sometimes seem strange that during Christmas, a traditionally family-orientated time, you’re spending half of the season hundreds of miles away from them. So why not pick up the phone and reach out to a family member or a friend from school? Ask them about their Christmas plans, share your academic anxieties, and remind them that you’re looking forward to catching up with them soon. Sometimes, a little reassurance is all it takes.
Please don’t let my suggestions swamp you. All I’m saying is that you need to balance your academic workload with some fun over the Christmas season. You’ve worked hard all term so reward yourself with some down time and you’ll feel much more refreshed when January comes.