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Staying Motivated in the Winter Months: Tips for Students

Student at desk frustrated with laptop work Winter is tough. We get it. When the cold weather sets in and the days get shorter and shorter, it gets harder and harder to crawl out of bed for another day of learning in school, whether you’re doing it in-person, remotely, or in a hybrid model that includes both. Staying motivated in the winter months is a challenge, to be sure, but we’ve got some tips to help you make it happen.

Why Students Lose Motivation During Winter

We already mentioned how hard it can be to just get out of bed when cold winter weather sets in. Layer in shorter days where it’s dark when you get up and dark again hours before going to bed and it’s easy to see why academic productivity can plummet. Then there are millions of people who also deal with some level of seasonal affective disorder that makes them more likely to feel depressed and unmotivated during winter. When the “winter blues” get you down and the school projects are piling up, what can you do to stay productive and not lose motivation? 

Winter is Coming

The ominous warning popularized by the Game of Thrones books and television series feels eerily relevant right now. Besides all the usual challenges of winter in terms of cold weather and lack of sunlight during shorter days, we’re still in the grips of a global pandemic that continues to get worse instead of getting better. As case counts started rising in the fall, officials began warning of a “dark winter” coming if people didn’t take the public health guidance seriously about social distancing, wearing face masks, washing hands, limiting social gatherings, and so on. But people are understandably experiencing high levels of “pandemic fatigue.” The prospects of how it will affect holiday gatherings also weighs heavily on everyone’s minds. This is all to say there’s a lot more than just cold weather to deal with this winter when it comes to motivation and doing what you can to not lose it.

Tip #1: Get Your Body Moving with Exercise!

Winter can be a tough time to exercise if you prefer to do physical activities outdoors instead of indoors. But it’s totally worth it to bundle up in plenty of warm clothes to get outside and let some physical movement and crisp fresh air invigorate you. There have been studies that show your mind is sharper after exercise, and this is especially true if you do it in the morning or just before you need to do schoolwork. 

If you just can’t face the cold weather outside, come up with some fitness activities you can do indoors. Whether your physical jam is hiking outside, yoga indoors, jumping on a trampoline, or playing with the family dog, just get moving! Your brain, and your grades (and your teachers and your parents) will thank you! 

As a side benefit, you’ll be less likely to gain weight from lying around watching TV and eating all the holiday goodies and home cooked food that come as the winter season gets underway. Out of all the tips we have for you, this one is far and away the most important. Forming a fitness habit is harder during the winter months, but it pays big dividends. 

Tip #2: Do Your Schoolwork When You’re Most Productive

If you attend a traditional school, you have to be in class during the regular school day. If you’re enrolled in an online high school such as Achieve Virtual Education Academy, you have greater flexibility to do your schoolwork and learning when it best suits your schedule. Whether you’re a morning person, a night owl, or a daytime sunlight kind of person, plan your day around when you know you’ll be more mentally alert and productive.

Tip #3: Set the Mood with the Décor You Need

This one might sound silly, but you’d be surprised how well it can work. Wherever it is you do most of your homework, studying, or online class, give it a makeover to fight those winter blues. If you’re missing summer fun, put up posters or photos of your favorite places to spend time in the summer. Add whatever vibrantly colored accents you can with decorations and summer swag to make your learning space feel brighter and sunnier, even when the sun’s not out. Working on a school project or studying for that next test is always easier when you’re doing it in a place you like.

Tip #4: Look the Part

This is another way that might make you roll your eyes but give it a try and see for yourself. We know how hard it is to get out of bed during the pandemic, and even more so as colder temperatures arrive. It can also be just as hard to get out of your pajamas or sweatpants you’ve grown used to living in 14/7. When you look good, you’re more likely to feel good. It’s a simple concept, but surprisingly effective, so ditch the sweats and dress for success! This will brighten your mood considerably when you need it most.

Tip #5: Become an Indistractable Student

The spellchecker of a word processing program as of right now probably won’t recognize “indistractable” as a word. Give it a couple years and it probably will. What does it mean to become indistractable? The most obvious things you can do when you’re sitting down to study or do other schoolwork, is to minimize distractions. Yes, we’re talking about turning off your phone (and putting it away somewhere if you have to) and any other electronic devices that demand your attention. If you’re the type who needs music to study, that’s fine as long as you can still resist looking at your phone when you need to be focused on your studies. If you’re working on a laptop or desktop computers, close out any and all social media sites, email, or other notifications. 

Those are obvious things to do. But becoming truly indistractable goes much deeper than that. What you really need to do is look inside yourself and identify what’s going on within you. Maybe it’s anxiety around the pandemic and how it’s messing up the holidays. Maybe you fear you’re not going to make good grades and the fear ends up making it come true. Maybe you’re worried about being ready for college. There is usually some stuff happening subconsciously (or not so subconsciously) that is holding you back and weighing you down. It can help a lot to recognize it, name it, talk about it with someone, and then let it go. When it’s allowed to just keep simmering below the surface, it can be a major negative drag on your motivation. 

Achieve Virtual Education Academy: Online High School to Fit Your Life

If you need greater flexibility in the how, when, and where of your high school education, we invite you to explore how Achieve Virtual can offer that to you. We are accredited by the Indiana Department of Education, and all our courses are taught by highly qualified real Indiana teachers. Students from anywhere in Indiana can enroll with a full-time status completely free of charge. You can find out more about Achieve Virtual by exploring our website or calling us directly at (317) 739-4276. We’re always happy to talk with you about your options and how we can help!

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