The most common reason for experiencing the holiday hangover is simply because of the change in lifestyle. The beginning of the second semester means having to accept certain responsibilities that the holiday period did not have.

The idea of watching the entire Game of Thrones series in three days does not seem any less appealing during the semester than it did during the holiday, but if you have a test in a few days, a rational person would make the better decision to study for the test.

Although holiday hangover is not a formally registered condition, it has been recognised by various studies, such as those performed by the British Human Resources Development organisation, Investors in People, which reports that about 58% of individuals suffer from the holiday hangover when returning to work or studying after time off. The effects of the hangover often decrease productivity and motivation.

Despite these findings, students are not doomed to face the consequences of the holiday hangover as there are various actions that can be taken to reduce the negative effects of it.

Plan your semester

Lifehacker.com suggests that organising your life soon after returning to studying may allow you to return to the mindset associated with being at university quicker. University life in general can sometimes be unorganised and it is beneficial to plan in advance. Knowing when exactly assignments and tests are due may not only help to prepare students to deal with these tasks, but may also allow them to feel less apprehensive about having to perform them.

Planning may also relieve feeling hesitant about returning due to poor performance in the first semester, as peace of mind will be gained in knowing that a plan has been made for tests and assignments.

Create a routine

Classes may not always start or end at the same time everyday, resulting in students to creating inconsistent routines. The problem with inconsistent routines is that they are very similar to what is experienced during the holidays.

Having late classes on some days may allow students to sleep in, but it will also make it harder to get up on the days that students have early classes. According to multiple studies performed by the Sleep Health Foundation in Australia, creating a routine in which a person receives a healthy amount of sleep and wakes up at a set time every morning will lead to increased levels of motivation. Therefore it is essential to create a routine with consistent sleeping patterns.

Start with small easy goals

It is easy to become discouraged before the beginning of the semester if your primary focus is on the amount of tests and assignments you will need to complete before the end of the year. To think of the workload on such a scale only succeeds in creating a negative mindset towards returning and so prolongs the holiday hangover.

Lifehacker.com suggests starting with small, easy to complete tasks first, and slowly working towards bigger tasks. Instead of focusing on the 15 assignments one needs to complete before the end of the semester, focus on a more immediate task such as going to class, and then move on to working on the first assignment which is due. This makes the workload seem a lot more manageable and in turn reduces the effects of the holiday hangover.

It is important to note that sometimes negative feelings towards returning may be caused by problems greater than just leisureliness. In studies conducted at the University of Derby and the University of Leicester in Britain, it was shown that returning for the second semester can often be more daunting than beginning the first semester for reasons other than a lifestyle shock or laziness. Other factors indicated as possible causes for being apprehensive about returning to university included having to leave the comforts of home for the second time, anxiety about the workload and poor performance in the first semester which could also influence productivity and motivation.

In such cases UP offers Student Support services to help students deal with these or similar issues.

If all else fails, just begin counting down the days until the next holiday. The decreasing number should give some reassurance that it is nearly here again.

Photo: Johann van Tonder

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