A very Merry Christmas to you and yours from all your PAL Leaders! We understand and appreciate the huge obstacles you have had to overcome in what would ordinarily be a difficult transition, let alone in the world we’re currently living in.
It is going to be a great feeling to relax and wind down over Christmas, and hopefully spending time with your close ones.
This first term can’t have been anything like what you expected, but we’re proud that you’ve managed to come through the other side, and we hope that the advice and support we have given you has helped you along that journey.
You should see it as an achievement, the progression you have made in twelve weeks. So, enjoy yourself, be kind to yourself and give yourself a well-earned break!
Make sure you come back in January refreshed and replenished, and as a festive treat, below are some top tips from your PAL leaders, for ensuring you keep a healthy work/life balance over Christmas.
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Make a list of any work you want to do over Christmas break, whether it' s assignments, revision or practical tasks, put it on the list. Next think about what you need to complete it. Bookmark some useful books on the library website, find out what equipment you need and ask your lecturers if you're not sure.
Once you have your list put it in order of what is most important. Prioritise your workload in terms of deadlines so you’re not submitting at the last minute. Then think about when you might have some quieter days over the break and schedule in time to do each task, Let the people around you know they are your study days, so you don 't have distractions and break it down into smaller chunks so you’re not overworking yourself. Set a finish time each day too and stick to it, it is Christmas after all!
Whilst we can 't actually party much this year, whether you've gone home for Christmas or stayed at university there will be no shortage of ways to treat yourself. Once you've achieved a task remember to take a break and grab a mince pie or stick on a festive film to break up your time. This will help you feel more motivated during the time you are studying.
Don’t struggle alone. Keep in contact with your course mates, form a WhatsApp or Facebook group, use the PAL teams’ site or ones for your courses to reach out and ask each other questions. Learning together and from each other will boost everyone's understanding. If you’re doing the same assignment's as others it' s worth having a chat or even forming a study group where you can check in with each other. This is a great way to keep motivation high during the quiet time between Christmas and New Year. Don 't worry if you are struggling with something, we all do from time to time and just talking it over with someone else can help.
We can’t do everything. Whilst we might set out with the best of intentions to finish all of our work before Christmas day arrives or to leave it all until January and know that we 'll get it done. This is very likely to lead to stress, anxiety and probably some questioning of why you are bothering at all. Whether you're a last-minute worker or an in advance planner we all have to adjust during the Christmas break. There might be family time, work and just time for enjoying yourself that you want to fit in around your studies. So don 't overload yourself, set smaller goals and be proud when you reach them. If you only manage a couple of hours of study on a few days, you're doing more than if you hadn't started at all.
It's been a difficult term and not the way any of us expected to be learning, while you might have work you need to complete over Christmas break remember that looking after yourself and letting yourself enjoy the season is important. Don 't feel guilty if you ignore those books you got out of the library for a week or so, we all do it and as long as you've planned in time to complete your tasks at some point you can relax knowing it's under control.
What you eat can really have an impact on energy levels and focus, so try to keep away from too much junk food (but a few mince pies here and there won’t hurt)! Keep your body and brain well-fuelled by choosing nutritious foods that have been proven to aid concentration, memory, and motivation, such as fish, seeds, yogurt and blueberries. The same applies on exam day - eat a good meal before the test, based on foods that will provide a slow release of energy throughout. Chicken and eggs are great because they contain choline - a neurotransmitter essential for the formation of new memories. If you are a vegan there are alternatives such as lentils, seeds, nuts, cabbage and broccoli!
Studying for long periods can be counter productive. Taking regular breaks really helps your concentration and ability to learn! Everyone is different, so develop a study routine that works for you. If you study better in the morning, start early before taking a break at lunchtime. Or, if you are more productive at night, take a larger break earlier on so you're ready to settle to work in the evening. Do not forget that sunlight and being outdoors also helps – the brain requires Vitamin D! Taking short walks can be beneficial for motivation and mental health – just make sure to wrap up warm!
After 20 minutes of using an electronic device, look away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a rest. This will aid your concentration so you can bang out those assignments.