How to Deal with Mid-semester Burnout



By Elizabeth Jones, 2020-2021 SCS Advising Leader:

We’re already over half-way through this semester and many of us are busy with mid-terms and starting final papers and projects. Normally around this time, we have a full week off from our academic obligations. The lack of a spring break this semester is a challenge to many students, and “wellness days” are just time to catch up on our studies, not take a break from them. With the second half of the semester still to come, it’s important to avoid becoming unmotivated, tired and burnt out.

Here’s some advice that helps me stay motivated and put things in perspective:

Take a Day Off: Not just a day to catch up on classes or homework you’ve fallen behind on but take a full day next weekend to do absolutely nothing and just let yourself rest. Maybe catch up on some sleep. It can be difficult to take a day off without feeling like you’re falling further behind or feeling guilty about not being productive. Some of us (including me) fall into the habit of catching up on work over the weekend, but it’s important to take time out of your busy schedule to focus on yourself. Treat yourself by ordering takeout, doing some online shopping, or having a Netflix marathon. Even something as simple as splurging on your favorite coffee can have a big impact on how you feel. The main point is just to focus on you for a day and not anything else.

Schedule little breaks during the week: There isn’t always time to take day-long breaks, regardless of how much we would like to. Make the most out of the little breaks you can. I like to plan out my whole week in advance and leave plenty of space empty, so I know I have time when I’m not working or studying. Alternately, you can always try to do most of your work earlier in the week and then enjoy a lighter load for the weekend. Set up boundaries for your academic work and try to maintain a healthy school-life balance.

Go Outside: Get out of the house and go for a walk. Breathe in the fresh springtime air, feel the sun on your skin, and enjoy taking a break from looking at a screen. One of my favorite things to do after class is to walk by the quad, especially when the weather is nice. A few weeks ago, I saw people studying, playing frisbee, walking their dogs, etc., and it felt the same as how it used. What I saw reminded me of the atmosphere that normally surrounds the quad. Even with masks and social distancing, it’s felt like normal again.

Try to see the upside of things: The past year has been full of a lot of negatives, but the good news is that things are on the upswing. With the vaccine rolling out quickly and the positivity rate decreasing, the summer and fall are beginning to look more optimistic. Though things won’t be completely back to normal, there will be some semblance of regular life. Soon we will be reconnecting with loved ones and interacting with each other in person (and spending a lot less time on Zoom). Even though virtual learning can be challenging, try not to worry too much about your classes. Remember the special grading options for this semester, and if needed you can always discuss them with your advisor.