Study and relax in the same room without going stir-crazy

Photo by Lacie Slezak via Unsplash

Study and relax in the same room without going stir-crazy

Because of the coronavirus, students are forced to spend a lot more study time in their rooms instead of at the UB. So how do you separate work and leisure time? We asked psychology researchers at the UG for tips.
5 November om 11:30 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.
November 5 at 11:30 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.


Door Sofia Strodt

5 November om 11:30 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.

By Sofia Strodt

November 5 at 11:30 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.

Sofia Strodt

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Working from home does have some perks, but at a certain point being locked up in a tiny room all the time can make it feel as if the walls are starting to close in on you. ‘One of the huge challenges when working from home is to manage boundaries between work and leisure time’, says Susanne Scheibe, who specializes in occupational health and well-being. ‘The cues your brain associates with work and those it associates with relaxation are suddenly attached to the same environment.’ 

The result is a blurring of these boundaries, which in the long term affects both your mental and physical health. Luckily there are ways to trick your mind into thinking you’re at your place of work. 

Create the right set-up

It all starts with a suitable workspace. Make sure you have one spot that is dedicated solely to work. Bertus Jeronimus, who specializes in well-being, recommends moving your table to a different corner of the room and then moving it back once the work session is over. This way you create physical boundaries and sort of simulate that office or library environment.

Small changes in your surroundings can help to separate work from leisure time. Jessica de Bloom, whose research focuses on the vanishing boundaries between work and non-work life, suggests using a bright light that you switch on during work and exchange for softer lighting at the end of the day. This helps to signal your brain that it’s time for relaxation.

Discuss your boundaries

When you and your housemates agree on certain norms, that creates an environment where everyone knows what to expect of each other, but also how to support each other. To manage social boundaries effectively, you can put a sign on the door when you’re doing work that requires maximum concentration, to ensure no one disturbs your workflow. Alternatively, Scheibe suggests using a die that is red on one side and green on the other to signal to housemates whether they can approach you. 

Do things in blocks

Next to setting physical and social boundaries, you should also mentally separate work and non-work by doing things in blocks. Experts Scheibe and Jeronimus agree that the importance of sticking to a routine when you’re in charge of managing your own schedule can’t be overstated. 

‘You should create a start time, a point at which your daily routine begins. Make sure to get out of your pajamas and into your work outfit’, says Jeronimus. ‘You should schedule a fixed end time too, even if the task you have been working on is unfinished.’

In between the start and end time, it’s essential to schedule breaks. Otherwise, it’s likely you’ll skip them. Set a timer to remind you to take a breather. During those breaks, let your mind wander and avoid things that are cognitively demanding. Instead, go for simple activities such as watering your plants. 

Change it up

Throughout the day, switch between tasks. Scheduling your day in a way that allows you to work on different things will make it easier to stay motivated. On days you don’t feel particularly energetic, it helps to start the morning with assignments or projects you are excited about. That way, your energy levels will peak and you’ll be encouraged to continue working.

‘Tailor your daily schedule according to how you feel that day,’ says PhD student Elissa El Khawli, who focuses on well-being at work. ‘This makes it easier to subsequently focus on other things that may be more mundane.’

Log your mood and productivity

El Khawli recommends a diary for this. ‘Get a notebook to log how effective you were each day and add details. Did you sleep well? Did you drink a particularly good coffee? After a while you may recognize a pattern’, she says. Jeronimus agrees: ‘Writing down everything that’s on your mind, including your emotions, will give you more peace of mind at the end of the day when it’s time to relax.’ 

Experiment!

Lastly, keep in mind that different things work for different people. You might be one of those who are perfectly fine with working from bed and get everything done nonetheless. Maybe you’re more of a morning person, or prefer studying together at a friend’s place or via Zoom. Experiment with different strategies to find out what works best for you to maximize both your productivity and feeling of well-being when working from home. 

Student raises over 12,000 euros for Beirut explosion victims

Art prints sold for food

Student raises over 12,000 euros for Beirut victims

Psychology student Lucia Najjar launched a fundraiser to donate food to the people in her explosion-stricken hometown Beirut, hoping to collect 3,500 euros. But after one month, the sale of prints by Lebanese artists has already raised 12,384 euros.
21 September om 15:32 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.
September 21 at 15:32 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.


Door Sofia Strodt

21 September om 15:32 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.

By Sofia Strodt

September 21 at 15:32 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.

Sofia Strodt

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The massive explosion in Beirut’s port last month left 190 people dead and thousands more homeless. ‘When I saw the images of my hometown I felt like I was watching a bad movie’, says Lucia. Her cousin’s house is also completely gone. ‘I know all the streets, but it seems so unreal. Everything is destroyed.’

The psychology student couldn’t just sit still and do nothing. Together with her sister and their two cousins, she started the Foto for Food fundraiser in collaboration with Lebanese artists and a Beirut-based hunger relief initiative, Foodblessed. Proceeds from the sale of each donated artwork, 35 euros a copy, will feed a family of five people in need for one month.

Hyperinflation

However, the explosion is not even the worst thing that has happened to the people in her country, Lucia says. Lebanon is suffering from an economic crisis and the people have been protesting against the corrupt government since October. ‘At the moment, people are just trying to survive’, says Lucia. Many people have less than one euro a day to live on, but as a result of the hyperinflation, a stick of butter now sells for 20 euros. 

‘At first I was just sad, but now I mostly feel angry. The government, instead of helping, has worsened the situation by blocking help from other countries and stealing the donations that were meant to help victims’, says Lucia.

Deeper meaning

The sale of ‘mixed media’ artworks by eighteen Lebanese graphic designers, photographers and painters is more than a means of material support. Lucia wants more people to know about what’s going on in Lebanon. ‘The art has a deeper underlying meaning. One of the pieces shows birds sitting on a clothing line. Its title, Hanging by a thread, reflects the lives of many peoples in my home country’, says the student.

The Najjar sisters managed to spread the word and reached out to 247 supporters. ‘After four days we had already received 3,000 euros and from there it kept going until 12,384 euros, which is crazy.’ Even though the fundraiser has ended and the sisters have printed and dispatched the copies, Lucia is motivated to start more projects along similar lines. ‘People still keep asking if it’s possible to buy a print.’

Peacock on the loose in student accommodation

Peacock on the loose in student accommodation

When they were woken up by a screeching peacock at 9 a.m. on Saturday, the residents of student accommodation The Village thought they were still suffering the after-effects of a party. But there really was a giant bird trying to peck a girl near the bicycle racks.
7 September om 15:27 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.
September 7 at 15:27 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.


Door Sofia Strodt

7 September om 15:27 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.

By Sofia Strodt

September 7 at 15:27 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.

Sofia Strodt

Student-redacteur
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‘My housemate got too close to it when she was unlocking her bike,’ says communication and information student Maria Pavlova, who saw it happen. ‘She was scared, but she managed to pull her bike from the rack and she wasted no time riding away.’

It’s unclear how the peacock ended up near the student complex. The Village’s residents think it may have escaped from a nearby park, but, so far, no one has asked after the feathered rebel. They haven’t tried to get rid of it themselves, either. ‘We don’t want to disturb it too much’, says Maria. 

No other incidents have been reported so far, so the students haven’t called in help. ‘The bird is just walking around the grounds. It seems peaceable, so it’s fine’, says Maria. ‘I even took some crackers and started feeding it. It was just an unpleasant surprise to be woken up by a shrieking bird when you’re sleeping off your drink.’ 

Where do I buy a bike?

How to survive in Groningen

Where do I buy a bike?

Did you know that Groningen is the number one bike city in the world? Riding your bicycle is not just the easiest and most environmentally friendly way to get around, but also the best way to keep fit for free. So how do you get your hands on a bike of your own?
17 August om 8:00 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.
August 17 at 8:00 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.


Door Sofia Strodt

17 August om 8:00 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.

By Sofia Strodt

August 17 at 8:00 AM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.

Sofia Strodt

Student-redacteur
Volledig bio
Student editor
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Facebook groups

There are several Facebook groups that facilitate the buying and selling of bikes by private persons. Try Bicycles for sale in Groningen, for example. You will find a wide variety of models there: from new, fancy racing bikes to cheap standard ones that have seen better days but still get you from A to B. Be sure to check a bike in real life before agreeing to a sale.

Bicycle stores

You will find an abundance of bicycle stores in and around the city centre that sell second-hand fietsen and also offer repair services. The advantage of these stores is that you can compare different models and get help from the staff to pick a bicycle that’s right for you. Try Bikes in Groningen (Sint Jansstraat 25) or De Ganze Fietsen (Oude Kijk in ’t Jatstraat 69). Another perk: if you’re a member of a study association, you’ll get a discount in some of these shops. However, getting a decent bike at a store is slightly pricier than buying one from a private person. 

Swapfiets and OV-fiets 

Swapfiets delivers a bike right to your doorstep. For 16.50 euros a month you lease a bike from them. If it breaks down, you just give them a call and they’ll come and swap it for a functioning one without any additional costs. No more paying for expensive repairs! 

An OV-fiets is a good option for short-term rentals, like when your friends or family visit and you want to give them an authentic Dutch experience. Make sure you get an OV-chipcard, which you need for public transport, before going to the OV-fiets office, since you can only rent one if you have the right product on your card. A day’s rent is 3.85 euros.

Bike dealers 

For some broke students it’s common practice to meet up with so-called bike dealers, who’ll sell you a bike for about 30 euros. Those bikes are almost always stolen though, and if you get caught with a fenced bicycle you’ll be fined and end up with a criminal record. Not something we can recommend! 

One last thing: ALWAYS lock your bike. If you don’t, it will be gone in the blink of an eye – probably stolen by one of those bike dealers.