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MSU students discuss ways to stay motivated during the 'holiday slump'

December 7, 2022
<p>Photo Illustration.</p>

Photo Illustration.

As the seasons change and the holidays approach, it becomes increasingly hard for many students to stay engaged.

For students like human biology junior Ellen Kim, the shorter days of colder months come with less motivation.

“I definitely feel like I’m more tired earlier in the day and I don’t want to do my work,” Kim said.

Kim said it is especially hard to keep her spirits up with her upcoming final exams. Even after having a break over Thanksgiving, she has noted a constant feeling of stress.  

“I feel like it’s weird in a sense, because you’re supposed to be on break,” Kim said. “I did have a good break, but I was also subconsciously thinking about finals week, and all the work I have to do after that.”

International relations sophomore Rory McMahon said the university’s approaching holiday break, which begins on Dec. 17, can exacerbate anxiety and depression.

“You’re getting ready for winter break, you get excited, you’re ready to take the season off, but then you have the stress of having to stay focused,” McMahon said. “So I feel like the hardest part for me is balancing those emotions. Realizing I can’t get excited yet, I need to finish strong.”

McMahon said that this time of year is always the most stressful, and she finds herself scrambling to finish work.

“I actually have a really hard time staying motivated, especially towards the end of the year when it gets cold,” social relations and policy sophomore Mackenzie McElroy said. “When students are most missing their families, wanting to go home most and …  you can't even go out and enjoy the fun parts of college.”

McElroy, an out-of-state student, said being away from her loved ones can be isolating. She tries to study more in groups and regularize her sleep schedule to combat this feeling.

Computer science sophomore Jennifer Lee said she also increases her social interaction to cope with the mental slump.

“I also try to do more hobbies, like singing,” Lee said. “Any kind of self-care. Maybe watching a Christmas movie, baking or hanging out with some people at our dorms.”

Kim said she holds herself to a higher standard of time management as the end of the year is close by.

“I feel like my motivation comes from knowing that if I procrastinate, or spend my time on other things, I will obviously (be) much more stressed out later,” Kim said. “And also, I’d just get caught up in the workload and forget about it.”

McElroy often turns to exercise to take her mind off external pressures.

“Exercise has just shown to like, help your body process stress,” McElroy said. “Also, just making yourself do nothing …  if you're always doing something, then you're eventually going to crash.”

McMahon also advises other students to explore different corners of campus and try to enjoy various environments every day.

“We hang out in dining halls, I go to the gym,” McMahon said. “I know that they have a lot of events on campus, so they do some self-care during finals. They have like, sometimes (therapy) dogs in the library … They have crafts, they have things to de-stress.”

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