Decompression 101


I wrote this a few days before we headed back to school. Some students (myself included) find it difficult to switch to a different state of mind after being in an intense academic setting for over three months. Throughout my time as a student, I’ve found some ways to forget about the past term and focus on relaxing in order for my brain to prime itself for the new term.

1. Don’t touch your material from the completed term.

This one is a no-brainer. Some students are tempted to look at the material from their past term’s class in order to see which questions they answered correctly/incorrectly on exams. This brings unwanted anxiety and should be avoided. I can remember doing this after my first term of first year and I was worried sick about my MATH 100 exam.

2. Find a book.

You’d be amazed at the therapeutic potential that a book has. I’ve found that when using either a book or television/video games to decompress, books have always been more effective.

3. Read up on an academic topic that you find interesting.

This one is a little weird: why would I read up on an academic topic when I’m trying to escape an academic state of mind? The answer is simple: reading on an academic topic you find interesting doesn’t feel like something you have to do, but rather like something you want to do.

Once approaching it from this perspective, I found that I wasn’t falling back into an academic state of mind, but was actually decompressing! For example, during the Christmas break of 2013, my parents bought me a textbook on the basics of medicinal chemistry and a book called Molecules and Medicine. Although these cover academic topics, I was intrigued by them and excited to begin reading. In addition, I found myself getting more excited to return to school the more that I read.

4. Nostalgia. 

This one confuses many students when they ask me about what I use to decompress. Believe it or not, one of my main methods is re-visiting things I enjoyed as a kid. Things like Calvin and Hobbes, Spider Man cartoons from 1998, and music I enjoyed back in middle/high school, always brought feelings of happiness because of their nostalgic capabilities. The better I felt, the easier it was to relax.

5. Don’t dwell on the past. 

Beating yourself up over a poor grade is not going to make the problem go away. Instead, make a game plan to fix it in the future. Focusing on the past prevents you from paying attention to the present and future. What’s done is done, and unless you have a time machine, there’s nothing you can do about it, other than make a plan to fix it in the future.

6. You don’t have to be doing something at all times. 

Sometimes it can be beneficial to simply veg out and not focus on anything. This can help you catch up on sleep, among other things.

Photo credit: Las Vegas-2012-10-06-014 via photopin (license)

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