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Studying in the heat: how to keep healthy and stay motivated

Woman studying at table

Summer is coming to an end, yet the British weather is so unpredictable that we can never say when it’s going to get colder outside! When the sun’s out, many people look forward to barbecues in the garden, lighter evenings and warmer weather. However, for those who are studying, the summer months - and even during the hotter weather in September - aren’t always ideal.

There are plenty of reasons why hot or humid weather can feel like the worst conditions when studying. You may feel like you’re missing out while your friends and family socialise outside, or you’re not taking advantage of the very few hot days that we have in Britain. Alternatively, the heat just might not be for you. The humidity, constant struggle to keep cool, increased fatigue, and much more can contribute to a negative study experience.

But if the heat is disrupting your studies, don’t worry - we have plenty of tips and advice to share.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during hot weather

Before we dive right in, you may be struggling with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is more common in the winter months, but some people struggle in the heat. The NHS provides a list of symptoms of SAD, which include a persistent low mood, irritability, lacking in energy, and more. Many of the symptoms can have a significant impact on your daily activities, which include studying.

In simpler terms, if you’re lacking in energy, feeling fatigued or just down altogether then you’re not going to want to study, or you may struggle to take in the information.

Tips on keeping motivated

Keep in mind that everyone is different, and our tips to keep you motivated vary from person to person. For example, if you love hot weather, then you may not necessarily benefit from a tip for someone with SAD.

Sunshine lovers

There can be many reasons why you’re losing motivation in your studies if you love the sunshine. A big one is the fear of missing out. Whether this be in the hotter weather or spending time with your friends and family, you may start noticing feelings of resentment towards your studies.

1. Remember why you’re studying
This is our biggest tip in any situation - remember why you’re doing it. You need to work hard to reach your career goals, and you’ll certainly thank yourself for it in the future.

2. Set goals and reward yourself
Set yourself a detailed schedule that will give you the structure you need to study. When you’ve reached a certain topic or goal, reward yourself with some time in the sun - see your friends, get an ice cream, go for a nice walk. But whatever you do, remember to get back to your schedule to ensure you’re progressing through your studies. Working towards your goals should help you redirect your attention and reduce the anxiety of missing out on social events.

3. Minimise distractions
Identify any distractions that can pull you away from your studies. Try to stay off your phone and turn off the notifications and create a quiet and conductive environment. This will reduce the fear of missing out and keep your mind focused on your studies.

4. Practice self-care
Take care of your physical and mental health by ensuring that you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy and exercising when you can. Exercise can be a good break between studying which could also give you time outside in the sun and help your mind concentrate on your studies when you return. Overall, taking care of yourself will improve your focus and productivity.

Remember that by planning ahead, staying disciplined, and finding a balance then you can manage that fear of missing out all while accomplishing your academic goals.

Struggling with fatigue and low moods

When the weather is hotter, particularly during the later months when you were hoping that it would cool down, you might be struggling with your motivation to study due to factors such as SAD, humidity and just the heat in general. When it’s too hot, you can become dehydrated and tired, which will significantly impact your concentration. You may not suffer from SAD specifically, but still struggle with the sun and hot weather, which may be causing you stress when trying to progress through your studies.

1. Stay hydrated
While heat can lead to frustration and fatigue, keeping yourself hydrated and drinking plenty of water is vital to help improve your overall health and well-being.

2. Find a suitable study space
Make sure that your area is comfortable, as cool as possible, and inviting. Ensure proper lighting, de-clutter the space, and personalise it with things that will motivate you such as plants or quotes.

If it’s too hot, try to use a fan or an open window to try and cool down. The more comfortable you are, the more productive you should be.

3. Practice self-care
To help with any low moods during the heat, try to practice self-care through activities such as meditation, yoga, or walking, for example. If possible, try to exercise in a cool place such as an air conditioned gym. This will help to boost your mood and encourage your productivity.

4. Stick to a routine
If you already have a study routine, it can be difficult to stick to it when you’re feeling uncomfortable. Try to ensure that you’re in a comfortable environment but sticking to the same schedule so that you can stay focused. This will also benefit you when the colder weather inevitably comes back.

5. Take advantage of natural light
Whether you choose to spend time outdoors or maximise the exposure in your study environment to natural light, this can help improve your mood and concentration.

6. Seek support
Reach out to your family, friends, or professionals who can support you through challenging times. Having someone to talk to about your struggles can provide valuable insight and support.

Final thoughts

It’s incredible to think that the heat and humidity can be an issue any time of the year - but British weather can be quite unpredictable! Whether it’s summer time or just hot outside, remember that it won’t last forever and you’ll thank yourself for persevering through your studies when you’ve reached your goals.

Need some support?

If you feel like you would benefit from reaching out to someone for support, the team at Kaplan can help. Our learner well-being page provides sources, points of contact, advice, and access to our Safeguarding Team for all of our learners.

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