surviving winter term frosted autumn leaves

Staying positive in the winter term – four tips to boost your morale

With the first (half of) term already over in many Scottish schools, the nights shortening rapidly and Strictly back on our screens (or so I’m reliably informed, not being a TV watcher myself!), autumn is definitely here.

If you’re finding that the initial excitement at a different timetable, new stationery and seeing friends again after the summer is starting to wear off, you’re not alone. An exhilarating fresh routine doesn’t feel that way for long, and the looming winter and impending exams or deadlines are no doubt starting to feel quite real.

surviving winter term at school

So if your spirits are sinking at the prospect of a queue of relentless assignments stretching as far as the eye can see, it’s worth thinking about how you can stay positive through the long days of slog as autumn eventually becomes winter.

After all, a study in the US last month found that optimists are likelier to outlive those who favour a less positive approach, so it could be a good time to ponder whether you’re a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person. Of course, regular breaks, plenty of sleep, at least the recommended amount of exercise plus a healthy diet will all enhance your well-being, as we’ve mentioned before. It’s also important to make time for some of the pastimes you enjoy in life – be that cooking, music, drama or just relaxing with family and friends.

There are many ways to stay positive and beat those autumn blues, including these four ideas:

  • See the funny side

Whether you’re simply giggling with your mates or watching something humorous on stage or screen, a good laugh can ease tension and make you feel better. Numerous studies have shown that laughter really is the best medicine, so make time for friends – especially the ones who make you laugh…

  • Praise yourself

Try to give yourself credit for all your achievements, however small they may seem. Completed an assignment? Nailed that tricky topic? Finally cracked that maths problem? It’s not arrogance to recognise a job well done, or to enjoy a reward of a small (see healthy diet reference above!) bar of chocolate or half an hour of TV or gaming afterwards. Just ticking something off your ‘to do’ list can feel really satisfying.

  • Tackle problems as they arise

Difficulties are bound to crop up at certain times, either with your studies or elsewhere in your life. Focus on how good you will feel once any issue is sorted out, and be sure to talk to someone about the thing that’s worrying you, whether it’s a formula you can’t understand in physics or a coursework deadline you’re struggling with in English. Don’t dwell on things. Think of practical solutions and take positive actions. At night, if something’s keeping you awake, picture throwing the problem(s) into a chest inside a set of drawers, then closing it firmly.

  • Turn negatives around

It may seem a cliché, but every negative can be turned around. Rather than saying to yourself that something’s too hard or that you give up, admit that it is difficult, but tell yourself you’ll persevere. You believe in yourself, so you’ll keep trying.


Finally, notice the positive things happening in your day. In a way, it’s like seeing green rather than red lights, or removing negative glasses to see with positive – albeit slightly rose-tinted – specs. If you’ve made some helpful notes, received good feedback for an assignment or grasped a new concept immediately, don’t dismiss it. Allow yourself time to feel happy about the things that go well. Practise gratitude.

Inevitably, some days will always go better than others, and the  weeks that follow the Scottish “tattie holidays” can seem particularly long and dreary. However, rather than dwelling on the shortening of the daylight hours and the spectre of endless essays, just get the homework done each day and focus on the aspects of your life that make you feel good – that way it’ll be easier to sustain your momentum until Christmas. And by that time, the shortest day will have come and gone!

PS: If you have any tips for boosting morale at this time of year, we’d love to hear them!

PPS: Many thanks to Sebastian in Romania for allowing me to use the gorgeous photo of his cat, Vivaldi, lounging on his homework!


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