relaxation

6 Quick Energy Boosts When Sleep Isn’t Practical

The words ‘student’ and ‘sleep’ don’t mix well.

Too much when you shouldn’t be getting sleep and too little when you should. A recipe for disaster that’s easy to fall into.

Regular bedtime is difficult to commit to with so much going on. Even when you sleep like a baby every single night, that doesn’t always stop the tiredness setting in halfway through the day.

Fear not. There are a number of things you can do to spruce up your mental and physical energy before you pack in a full night of buh-byes.

Sleeping (photo by RelaxingMusic) CC BY-SA 2.0

Sleeping (photo by RelaxingMusic) CC BY-SA 2.0

Here are 6 ways to get yourself a power up:

1. Powernap

I love powernaps. It’s like sleep, only quicker. Somewhere between 12 and 30 minutes having a short kip, leaving you refreshed and rejuvenated. Win!

The most effective powernaps take a bit of practice. For some, it’s best to get back up after no more than 12 minutes. For others, you may need half an hour. If one thing doesn’t work, keep testing times until you find what works for you. The mistake is only trying one length of time and giving up when it doesn’t work. My optimum powernap is 18 minutes. What’s yours?

2. Meditate

Relaxation has never been so energising…

Meditation is often mistaken for requiring a total lack of thoughts. In reality, your brain doesn’t switch off. Any thoughts you have should be allowed to move on.

With that in mind, you’re not getting meditation wrong. Just sit in a calm and comfortable place, feel your breathing gently in and out, and gently focus on different areas of your body from head to toe, relaxing each area as you breathe. Don’t worry about what happens as you sit there. When you notice your mind wander, give yourself permission to let go of those thoughts. Accept their existence and do not dwell on them. Stay focused on the peace and quiet for however long you wish. From a few moments to a few hours to a few days. You don’t need to keep pushing for longer rituals. One of my most refreshing meditations this month came in at two minutes.

3. Walk / Jog

Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous and it doesn’t always require a gym. Walking for a mile or two is enough to clear your mind of a lot of stress and it can also help energise you for the rest of the day. My favourite time to walk is in the morning, but any time is good.

4. Change of Scene

Have you ever had that feeling when you’re tired in one place, but you suddenly feel wide awake when you go somewhere else? Find a new seat, a different location, or a different environment and watch your mood lift with no further effort required. I’m still surprised at how effective this can be.

5. Take a deliberate break

No matter how much you tell yourself to keep sitting there until you complete that task, it’s not going to finish any quicker. Leave it alone and do something else. If you have enough time, stop working on it all day. If you’ve got a deadline coming right up, take a ten-minute time-out. If you don’t want to try a powernap, meditation or a walk, you could just make a drink as an excuse to get up and stop what you’re doing.

A brief pause is a good way to break up the day and stop you from feeling bogged down. Tiredness doesn’t only happen because you need sleep. Your focus may simply be drained and it’s another way you tell yourself to take off for a while. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel after a bit of time away from a task.

6. A ritual for energy (and calm)

I love loose leaf tea. Watching the leaves brew and relaxing to a cup of green tea at once relaxes and energises my mood. You should try the same. And if green tea isn’t your thing, find your own ritual that gives you a boost in a way that you can get used to without having to break into a sweat.

There are many ways to pep yourself up naturally. You don’t have to rely on energy drinks and other hardcore stimulants.

How do you restore your energy? Go on, share some of your own tips!

10 Ways to Spend a Night In

A big part of uni life is spent going out. Away from the dorm is the norm.

But that’s not strictly true. When you’re not studying, doing a part-time job, partying, or doing one of a billion different activities, there are bound to be times when you’re chilling out on the inside.

Then there’s the summer break and other holidays when you’re either back at home or making do with a more limited range of activities on campus.

For all the fun, I’m sure you still spend a lot of time in your digs. And even if you don’t, there’s always the odd night when you’d just rather stay in your room and lay low. However, this doesn’t mean you need to have a dull time, or stop being productive. There are many ways to have a great night resting in your dorm if you’re not in the mood to go out. Here are 10 specific ideas to consider:

dorm (photo by ainlondon)

1. Have a Cheap Meal Night

Chances are you have a tight budget, so clubbing together with mates for some posh but cheap grub is a great treat. Perhaps none of you are ready to make an elaborate meal from scratch, but it’s still cheaper to buy some big meals from the supermarket. Whether it’s pizzas on BOGOF or several family-size ready meals, these quick meals will often prove cheaper than ringing for a takeaway.

2. Learn Something New

Okay, so you weren’t ready to make that meal with your own ingredients. All you need is an open mind and a bit of time exploring. Time to learn something new!

It’s nice to focus on something that’s educational, but not necessarily part of your degree. And it doesn’t have to be about food, of course. Whether you have interest in history, science, a particular language, or a specific software program or business, take some time out to teach yourself something new.

3. Listen To An Old Album

University means growing up, and that gets a lot of people feeling nostalgic. For that reason, one fun activity to practice on a solo night in the dorm is to break out some old music to listen to. Just tune everything else out and listen straight through an old favourite – you might notice something new, or enjoy it more than you have in years. I did this the other night with some old Gomez tracks and it was lush!

4. Watch A Film Or Two

You may not have packed a DVD collection for uni, but now you can usually find a fun film or two to enjoy on various online streaming sites. Log into Picturebox Films for some nice selections, and take some time to just watch, whether you’re alone or with friends.

5. Catch Up On Assignments

This isn’t the most entertaining option, but you might be glad to take the opportunity to catch up, or get ahead, on study. Read that next chapter in the textbook, get a jump on your next big paper, etc. Productivity in a university environment is never a bad thing.

6. Catch Up With People From Home

If you’re closing yourself off in a dorm room for the night, why not take the time to catch up with people from home? Email, write letters, call, or Skype your old friends from home, and family members who will be thrilled to hear from you. This is a surprisingly rewarding way to spend a few hours on a night in.

7. Organise Your Computer

There’s plenty to organise and “clean up” on the average computer – from deleting old documents, to clearing out an email inbox, and even doing work on your social and professional profiles. Gizmo’s Freeware is a good place to find the best free software that’s usually on par or better than commercial offerings. Often, once you get going with this kind of project, you’ll be at it for hours. So don’t use it as an excuse to procrastinate!

8. Meditate

Meditation isn’t for everybody, but for those who enjoy it or practice it regularly, a weekend night in is the perfect opportunity. You can meditate for all sorts of reasons: to help clear your mind; to alleviate stress; to increase productivity – all very positive things for a busy student.

9. Read For Pleasure

Many university students miss the freedom to read for pleasure! Often, curriculum reading and work occupies so much time that it’s just too tough to delve into a novel for entertainment purposes. A night in by yourself, however, gives you just the chance you need to read something you enjoy.

10. Organise Your Room

Finally, you can also take the time to set up your room. From hanging new posters, to cleaning up clutter, to simply rearranging things, this can be a great way to make yourself feel productive, and to get more comfortable in your surroundings.

What do you like to do when you have a night in?