By Chloé Fox, Fourth Year English
Good news, spring is upon us and summer is within reach! However, this can be bittersweet for many of us with the exam season being synonymous with springtime. With this in mind, it is more important than ever to remember to look after and check in with yourself to stay feeling mentally and physically prepared for life's ebbs and flows.
Here a few hacks to keep you feeling fresh and focused for finishing the academic year living your best life, and feeling your best self!
Clean your space
An important way that your physical space may affect your head space is in terms of clutter and mess, so getting your Marie Kondo head on and thinking ‘out with the old and in with the new’ will help you to feel better about the space around you, therefore giving your mind room to breathe and develop.
Furthermore, this will help you to appreciate what you do have, and avoid wasting time looking for things and feeling stressed out in areas made for downtime. On top of this, when I tried Marie Kondo’s method for tidying my clothes I was amazed by how many items I loved but never wore, so this is a great way to encourage you to wear different things because they are no longer hidden at the back of your wardrobe!
'Lighting and air quality are considered of value for maintaining a healthy mind'
Realign your space
Following on from the above, staying focused and motivated is reliant on a good frame of mind, and variables such as sleep and emotions can interfere with this. Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese geomancy art which focuses on the impact of place and surroundings on an individual's mental wellbeing; a part of life which may be off-step and having a negative impact without you even realising it. Despite its not being a legitimate form of science and sometimes attracting skepticism, I agree with the basic principle that informs it’s ideas: that the mind is inextricably dependent on its physical surroundings. In Feng Shui the effect of place on a person is described in terms of energy; whether it be positive, or negative; to achieve positive Feng Shui, the composition of furniture and placing of rooms in a house is paid careful attention to.
When applying this to your own life it may be worth considering the following:
• If your room has a desk in it – it is considered poor Feng Shui to have the desk opposite or within clear view of the bed, as this could encourage you to associate bedtime with thoughts concerning work, having a negative impact on your quality of sleep.
• Lighting and air quality are also considered of value for maintaining a healthy mind and therefore, little things like opening the curtains as soon as you wake up to help start the day and bring natural light into the room, and keeping houseplants to brighten and clean up the air in your room may have a surprising impact on you. Research shows that nature can reduce feelings of anxiety and anger and therefore having plants around your house to nurture and maintain is highly advocated by those who practice Feng Shui.
• It is also considered good luck (perhaps because small changes can be a nice refresher for the mind) to move furniture around, so if you are feeling bored of how your room looks, or think that something could be done to turn the effect of your surroundings from negative to positive, you may find that the change alone is beneficial.
'It is all well and good to have life goals, but having fun-goals too is highly underrated'
When we are under pressure or anxious, meditation can be a godsend. While YouTube is labyrinthine when it comes to sorting the good meditation videos from the not so good, if you haven’t already heard of it I would strongly recommend giving the new app Headspace a go. There is a subscription fee if you want to get really into it, but for the majority of us who just want to take 10-30 minutes out a day there are plenty of free courses to explore. Whether you want to improve your focus in the morning, or wind down with a sleep exercise before bed, headspace has a plethora of guided meditations, breathing exercises and talks to help you relax and switch off.
I know I’m late, but Marie Kondo just changed my life— Caelynn Miller-Keyes (@caelynnmk) March 15, 2019
Feeling like you are in a rut is something we can all relate to in some way or another, and sometimes when the workload is really overwhelming we can be left not knowing where to begin. Therefore it is worth remembering the bigger picture in order to put things into perspective, staying focused on the end goal and what you want to achieve will help the workload to gradually decrease without you even noticing. In addition to this, it is worth having a list of things you want to do outside of uni to help keep the work-fun balance in check, since it is all well and good to have life goals, but having fun-goals too is highly underrated. Even ones that aren’t likely to be achieved anytime soon, as long as you don’t despair when it isn’t ticked off by the time you wanted, having aims and dreams can be inspiring and motivating.
Take time out
Something we often forget to do that does wonders to boost work performance and general wellbeing is to take proper time out. I don’t just mean to go out and then feel hungover on your day off, but maybe try doing something you wouldn’t ordinarily, like going to a spa and using a sauna and steam room to detox and rejuvenate (the Mercure hotel provide a £7.50 visitors pass before 3pm, you can use the sauna, steam room, hot tub, swimming pool and gym), or going for a walk outside of Bristol as there are plenty of places just a bus ride away, to get a change of scenery and soak up some nature.
Featured image: Unsplash / Katya Austin
What tips do you have for staying motivated in spring? Epigram wants to know - get in touch!