Jamie is a Higher Education and Student Affairs M.Ed. student at the University of South Carolina. She works in academic support and has a special interest in academic recovery and retention initiatives. Her twitter handle is @jacorcoran.

For most of us, the days of long and leisurely summer vacations are likely over. But after a long spring semester, how are we supposed to rest up for our work during the summer and fall? The summer months offer a great opportunity to reflect on the past academic year and reenergize for the year ahead.  Here are a few things you can do to recharge your mind, body, and spirit, whether you have a day, a week, or the entire summer.

1. Move
. For me, part of being a graduate student means spending long hours in front of a computer, pouring over spreadsheets or my latest reading assignments. That doesn’t stop just because the weather has gotten warmer and the days longer. One of the best ways I have found to combat the drain that comes along with sitting and staring at a computer screen for hours is to move my body. It turns out that sitting is really bad for you so any way that you can add movement into your day will make you more alert and will improve your health in the long run.  Walk to the water fountain every hour, have a 2 minute dance party in your office, or schedule a recess after lunch. It would be even better to get your heart pumping for a little bit. Enjoy the warmer weather and go outside for a walk or a run. Early studies suggest that working your muscles may increase your brain power– a little extra brain power never hurt anyone!

2. Read for pleasure.  Reading something for pleasure that is outside of your field of study can help you clear your mind so that you can approach your work with a fresh perspective. Plus, knowing what is going on in the world outside of graduate school will make you a more well-rounded, relatable professional.  So take a break, go to the campus bookstore and pick up The Hunger Games!

3. Do something new. Generally speaking, new experiences make us happier than buying new things. The memory of an exciting new experience hangs around for far longer than a new purchase. Shaking up your routine (even just a little) can help pull you out of a rut or make you appreciate your circumstances even more. Go somewhere new for lunch or drive a different way to the office. Myra Houser recently suggested learning Capoiera as a way enjoy the benefits of being a beginner. If you’re feeling spontaneous, go on a day trip. I think you’ll be surprised about what you find!

4. Be grateful.
Taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for is one of the quickest and easiest ways to jump start your attitude.  Practicing gratefulness reminds us of what and who are important to us.  Want to take it a step further? Tell the people you are grateful for why you appreciate them. You’ll leave feeling better and so will they. Even the Harvard Business Review says so.

5. Set a goal or clean up previously set goals
. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a superstar goal setter. I have goals for everything-how many miles I want to run this week, how many books I want to read this year, when I want to start (and finish) my Ph.D. But sometimes having too many goals can be overwhelming. If you’re looking for an extra boost, take a minute to look at your goals again. Are they still relevant? Are they still motivating and exciting? If not, toss ‘em. Whittle down your goal list so that only the goals that truly inspire you are left.

If you’re not a goal setter (or even if you are), take a moment to write only one goal. Make it something small that you can achieve relatively soon, like drinking 8 glasses of water a day for a week. When you achieve your new goal, set a new one and let the momentum of achieving your goals carry you to bigger things.  Need a little help? Here are my favorite goal setting guidelines.

What do you like to do when you need an extra burst of energy? Do you do anything special during the summer to recharge?

[Image courtesy of Flickr user UKgyms under Creative Commons License]



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