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March 26, 2018 | by  | in Mauri Ora Opinion |
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Mauri Ora

The six week dip : is it real and what to do about it

Every year, I hear students saying that this year things will be different, that they are feeling hopeful and positive, that they will keep up with their workload, and  attend every class. I see them a month later, looking stressed and pessimistic, needing support for extensions, and already not enjoying their studies.

While there is nothing magic about the six week mark, it does seem to fit as the time it takes for students to start feeling bad. Assignments are due, and the weather is starting to turn cold and gray. Psychologically, six weeks is also the time that evidence says it takes us to adjust to a new and challenging situation. It’s also about the time it takes to bed in a new pattern of behaviour or habit so that it becomes unconscious.

This means that you can (with a bit of intentional effort!) take this six week “dip” and turn it in to a six week “challenge” whereby you take charge of what is an inevitable time of adjustment and  avoid it being debilitating. Here’s my advice:

    1. Expect that the early honeymoon period of the year will quickly fade.
    2. Put a plan in place from day one for how you will keep your day and yourself healthy and satisfying: exercise, socialise, eat well, take breaks, turn up to everything, and think positive — every single day. Remember that new positive habits take six weeks to become habitual.
    3. Avoid isolating yourself, procrastinating, and feeling hopeless.
    4. Remember that everyone experiences tough times.
    5. Don’t be afraid to re-negotiate your work life balance – drop a paper, say no to an obligation or commitment, pick up a life enhancing activity or pastime.
    6. Take action to change something you are unhappy about: talk to your friend, RA, tutor, family member, or student support service.
    7. Attend a free wellbeing workshop to build self confidence, manage stress and anxiety, to learn to stop procrastinating, and to sleep better.
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