Staying focused on your academic goals is difficult. But giving yourself a reward can be a strong motivator to stay on target. Forget the idea of a spending spree or binge-watching TV. Instead, reward yourself in ways that enhance your learning!

  1. Pursue a form of exercise you enjoy

While some students take pleasure in weightlifting, exercise also takes countless, less conventional forms, such as dance, yoga and rock-climbing. Plus exercise releases endorphins – chemicals that trigger a sense of well-being and reduce the brain’s perception of pain.

  1. Nibble on a healthy snack

Though it may be tempting to seek solace in chocolate after completing the first draft of an essay, sugary foods that are high in saturated fat can slow down your body’s capacity to absorb information. Opt for healthier options, such as a fruit smoothie or a handful of nuts. You’ll nourish your mind and maintain motivation to study.

  1. Go on an outdoor excursion

Research shows that exposure to fresh air and various outdoor scents helps reduce anxiety. For example, the scent of freshly cut grass releases a chemical that can improve one’s mood and promote a sense of calmness.

  1. Spend time with friends

Online learning can make you feel isolated. Socializing with friends or classmates can help you feel connected with a community, and, in turn, reduce stress.

  1. Listen to music that elevates your mood

There are countless science-backed health benefits to music. In particular, classical and meditative music can help ease stress and relieve symptoms of depression. 

  1. Play with an animal

Few feelings are purer and more unconditional than the love of a pet. If you don’t have an animal of your own, visit a local animal shelter to spend time with a four-legged friend. Many cities also feature animal-themed coffee shops. For instance, at Ottawa’s Feline Café, visitors can relax in the company of adoptable cats.

  1. Create something

Creating a piece of artwork can be a therapeutic outlet for reducing anxiety and distracting yourself from schoolwork. Try colouring in adult colouring books or drawing in sketchbooks.   

  1. Make a list of your successes

Writing down your accomplishments can help you gain perspective in moments of uncertainty or low self-esteem. It can instil a sense of pride that will help motivate you.

  1. Light a candle and bask in its aroma

Burning candles – particularly when paired with a relaxing activity, such as bathing or mediating – can create the perfect atmosphere to induce calmness. Check out some online tutorials to create your own aromatherapy candles.   

  1. Set aside time to do nothing whatsoever

While excessive self-indulgence defeats the purpose of rewarding yourself, it’s equally counterproductive to work until you’re burnt out. A few minutes of inactivity can serve as a much-needed pause amid hours of intense studying.

By Maha Ansari

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