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After a long winter cooped up studying, it’s finally spring. Translation: It’s time to break out of your library rut and get some fresh air. It’s not just the thought of spring break that can get you pumped. Something about spring—warmer weather, more time outside, maybe some new classes—makes everything seem more exciting. The season is so fresh and new that even spring cleaning can feel good (seriously).

“I love cleaning up my space to just refresh the old and make everything feel nice and clean and new again,” says Sofie, a sophomore in Menlo Park, California.

When we talked to students, they told us they had a lot to be excited about in spring (beyond cleaning, we promise). Check out our favorite activities below.

1. Get outdoors

Hiking, biking, running, swimming—you name it, it’s all back on your list of weekend activities come spring. Aside from being fun, getting outside has some added benefits. Research shows the change of scenery can actually help make you sharper in class. A 2018 study found that when teachers took their classes outside, students were significantly more attentive and engaged, according to their results published in Frontiers in Psychology.

And those benefits go way beyond helping you learn. Getting out into some green space, whether that’s a hiking trail or city park, can help reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stress, and high blood pressure, according to a 2018 report by researchers in the UK. “I love being outside,” says Gabriella, a senior in Port Charlotte, Florida. “Being active just makes everything feel better.”

2. Volunteer

Many of you reported spring is the season for giving your time to others —a third of the students we surveyed said volunteering was one of their top three spring activities.

“Volunteering costs nothing, and you get more out of it then you put in. It looks amazing on a college [application], and helping other people is the most rewarding feeling ever,” says Karina, a freshman in Nampa, Idaho.

If you haven’t tried it yet, volunteer for a cause you believe in. It might help you connect with people who share your energy and values—and like Karina pointed out, it looks great on a college application. (It can also help you figure out which career path you might enjoy.) Check out your options at DoSomething.org.

3. Unplug

Despite all the intense headlines, social media isn’t all bad—as a 2017 review of studies confirmed, social media is often a powerful (positive) way for teens to connect and build relationships. “A consistent finding is that adolescents use social media to develop and maintain friendships,” the authors wrote.

But too much screen time can lead to lack of sleep and increased risk of depression, the same study found.

When the days start getting longer and the weather starts getting nicer, use it as an excuse to enjoy some screen-free downtime.

“Spending time outdoors doing something physical, like hiking, is a great way to be away from your phone, computer, and TV,” says Erin, a student in Clemson, South Carolina.

4. Spring clean

OK, maybe it’s not the best thing about spring (though 5 percent of the students we surveyed thought it was), but spring cleaning can be a great way to set yourself up for the new semester and finish the year strong.

Organizing our closets and bedrooms can help us create an environment more conducive to relaxation and productivity. Really—a 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that looking at clutter can create chaos in your brain. In other words, if your room is a mess, it can hamper your ability to study. Spring cleaning also has an added bonus: Having a decluttered room will save time in the mornings (maybe even earning you an extra five minutes of sleep).

“Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder,” says Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and unofficial spokesperson of spring cleaning.

Per Kondo’s advice, ask yourself the following when cleaning out your closet and dresser:

  • Do I need this? If the answer is a resounding yes, keep it.
  • Does it fit? If not, donate it.
  • Does it have sentimental value? If yes, keep it. But if you haven’t worn it in over a year, consider donating it.
  • When was the last time I wore it? Again, if it’s been more than a year, chances are you won’t wear it again. Donate.

5. Spend time with close friends and family

Whether you’re with family, hanging out with a few friends, or chilling one-on-one, research shows that spending time with friends and loved ones makes us happier and healthier, and helps us live longer lives. Friendships are so vital to our well-being, they can actually help ward off serious health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer, according to the findings of a review of studies published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in 2010.

“Spending time with my friends is essential for my health. They remind me that I am loved and my voice is being heard,” says Violet, a senior in Bangor, Maine.

6. Get active

One of the best things about spring, according to the students we surveyed, is the chance to be more active after a season of hibernating. “Winter is a slower time of the year where you might tend to slip off on your physical activity,” says Jillian, a sophomore in Washington. Whether it’s playing sports or simply moving more, spring is bursting with chances to get back into action.

Not convinced? George, a student in Normal, Illinois, paints a perfect picture of playing Ultimate Frisbee. “There is nothing quite like playing in the spring,” he says. “The season is in mid-flux: Will the day be 60 degrees or below freezing? Will there be sun? Rain? Snow? What about mud and snow?! Then you spend the whole weekend at the whim of Mother Nature, and you are surrounded by your teammates and all of the new friends suffering through the same climate exchanges just for a weekend of chasing a piece of plastic around.”

7. Travel

The number one thing students we surveyed said they looked forward to in the spring? Getting out and traveling.

“I love to travel because it allows me to learn more about myself and another culture simultaneously,” says Katie, a senior in Woodbine, Maryland. “Even if you’re just traveling to another town 10 minutes away, you’ll be exposed to a new environment that requires you to take chances.”

Other ideas for a fun spring

Friends eating street food

Gardening

“I like gardening and weeding in the spring. It’s great to get outside, feel the dirt, and plant some new life after a long winter.”
—Alexis, Ocala, Florida

Going to a rodeo

“The most eventful thing I’ve experienced every spring is attending the rodeo in Houston. It is so fun hearing so many great country artists and then getting to ride all the rides in the carnival with my friends and family.”
—Lesley, San Antonio, Texas

Going camping

“Going camping with my family was a great experience. It was real camping. No electricity, cabins, trailers, or social media/internet. Just tents, sleeping bags, fresh air, and family.”
—Kaela, Bloomington, Indiana

Hitting up town festivals

“I love going to a festival my town celebrates every year. We celebrate the rhododendron flower and just have fun downtown, since events go on throughout the weekend.”
—Danny, Florence, Oregon

Switching up your style

“I enjoy changing out my clothes from a winter wardrobe to a warmer one. It makes me feel rejuvenated.”
—Nicole, Collegeville, Pennsylvania

Taking time to just enjoy the weather

“I love reading outside and also sitting on my porch in the early morning with a cup of black coffee.”
—Rebekah, Cambridge, New York

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Article sources

Kondō, M., & Hirano, C. (2014). The life-changing magic of tidying up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing (First American edition.). Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.

Kuo, M., Browning, M., & Penner, M. (2018). Do lessons in nature boost subsequent classroom engagement? Refueling students in flight. Frontiers in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02253

McMains, S., & Kastner, S. (2011). Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(2), 587–597. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3766-10.2011

Uhls, Y. T., Ellison, N. B., & Subrahmanyam, K. (2017). Benefits and costs of social media in adolescence. Pediatrics, 140(2).

Umberson, D., & Karas Montez, J. (2010). Social relationships and health: A flashpoint for health policy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51, S54–66. doi: 10.1177/0022146510383501

University of East Anglia. (2018, June 7). It’s official—spending time outside is good for you. Retrieved from https://www.uea.ac.uk/about/-/it-s-official-spending-time-outside-is-good-for-you