How to Handle the College Winter Blues

Consider how to adjust your routine, whether it's to add things to your college life or take some away.

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While starting the spring semester can be exciting in theory, it can also be a little challenging in reality. That comfy bed becomes harder to get out of each morning when you know it's freezing outside; going to class becomes more difficult when you know just how boring the lecture might be that day. Additionally, what seemed like an exciting routine a few months ago or even last year has now become, well, a little dreary.

How can you deal with the college winter blues?

[See photos of 10 great colleges that avoid winter.]

Fortunately, most college winter blues are temporary. College may be fun and have its highlights, but it's also really hard. Don't sell yourself short by forgetting all of the difficult things you do on a regular basis. Try focusing on what you're doing well instead of dwelling on what you don't like about college or what you think you should be doing. Are you making it to your classes on a regular basis? Turning in your work on time? Getting OK grades? Balancing your time? Treating yourself kindly (e.g., getting enough sleep, taking care of your health, and eating well)? Having some fun in the process?

Recognize, too, that you just might be burned out—and that is normal. Your focus should be on what new and exciting things you can try to help rekindle the fire you had when you first stepped foot on campus. Is there a cool club you can join, or some type of leadership position for which you can apply? Can you get an on-campus job somewhere, such as the campus coffee shop, that will lead to new interactions, meeting new people, and a new schedule? Or can you volunteer somewhere to help get some perspective on all that you have to be grateful for (while giving back to your community, of course)?

[Get tips for how to choose your extracurricular activities.]

If you are feeling burned out, the solution to your malaise might not just be what to add to your college life but what to take away. Is there something you really dread doing each week? If so, can it be dropped or changed? Is there something you wish you could be doing instead, and if so, is there a way to make that happen?

Imagine that you absolutely had to cut one or two things from your schedule. What would you remove? How would you feel once they disappeared? While some things, such as classes for your major or prerequisites, can't be removed without serious consequences, you might be surprised to learn just how much better you'd feel if some of the less-than-thrilling items on your to-do list were to go away. What would you do with your newly found free time that you couldn't do before?

Lastly, one of the best ways to recharge and reenergize yourself—for a semester or a day—is to keep your eye on the prize: graduation. Why did you decide to go to college? What has helped you stay and succeed so far? What keeps you motivated? What kind of life do you want after you graduate?

Even if things seem too vague and overwhelming, close your eyes for a few minutes and try to visualize graduation day. Who will you invite? What will you look like in a cap and gown? Who will be there to support you? Who will be in your pictures with you? Who will you want to introduce to your friends and family? How will you feel tossing your cap? How will you feel the day after you graduate, when you wake up as an official college graduate? And how can that feeling help you get out of bed and self-motivate on the coldest days with the most boring classes that you have to deal with this semester?

[Read about new guarantees that help students graduate in four years.]

Are you facing the college winter blues? Do you need motivation? What has helped keep you going so far? Share what helps you stay focused with other readers in the comments section below.