We all know the feeling… the countdown to break has begun, simultaneously opposing the rapidly expanding to-do list. Just as the weather warms, your free time seems to plummet. You’ve pushed so hard up to this point, but will you finish strong, or be caught in the burnout? Rather than think, “I’ll be better next semester”, here are a few quick actions you can take today to avoid semester burnout.
- Know your study style
What time of day are you most productive? Where do you find the least distraction? Who can (or more often, cannot) you study with? Ask yourself these quick questions and run with your answers. Even on campus, there are a wide variety of overlooked study spots! If you are looking for change of scenery from the library, check the study rooms on each floor of Hyland or Upham, tables and lounges in the University Center, lobbies of each academic building, or even the second floor of the Williams Center.
- Utilize a planner
Being able to see your responsibilities and deadlines in your work, school, and social life, all in a central location will help you better prioritize your time. The majority of planners come with monthly calendars, allowing you to see the large picture of your approaching schedule. Furthermore, you have the weekly section of your planner that can be broken down either hourly, for those busier days, or with an open section designated for each day. Hourly will provide you the visual benefit of recognizing where you have gaps in your schedule, allowing you to plan study or rest times, while the open section option is convenient for adding reminders of tasks and events without specific times. Utilize the option best for you to recognize when your workload will be heaviest, so that you can have a head start, and ultimately enjoy more freedom and less stress.
You’re busy and on-the-go, but it’s time to face reality that you can only function on caffeine and sheer willpower for so long before you begin to reap the consequences. I understand, I’m one of those people who frequently attempts to convince my body that it does not need sleep. But the fact remains that sleep is a necessity. You won’t always be able to get your perfect 8 hours a night, but looking for opportunities to take a nap, or go to bed earlier will make a difference. Even if it means watching one less episode of Netflix, or playing one less round of Fortnite before bed.
Be prepared for any situation, whether you’re finding yourself falling asleep in class, distracted by your hunger, or just too busy to grab a meal. Pack a non-messy snack that you can take anywhere. Some great options are bananas and nut butter, granola bars, vegetables and hummus, trail mix, or fruit. Pair this with water. Studies have shown that even a mild 2.6% dehydration can effect both the cognitive and emotional states of the individual. A healthy goal is to drink half your body weight in fluid ounces daily.
Exercise doesn’t have to be the miserable drag you may picture, and it doesn’t have to take away from your busy schedule. Even a few minutes a day can boost your energy levels and mood! Consider grabbing a group of friends to try out a fitness class at the Williams Center, explore some nature paths nearby (if you’re in need of suggestions, look at the free app “All Trails”), walk or bike to class, or utilize free workout apps on your phone.
- Set aside time for you
Most importantly, a primary aspect of avoiding burnout is caring for yourself. While you must physically take care of yourself and find tactics to juggle all the aspects of your busy life, you must also find time to enjoy yourself. Frequently this is with friends, but some time is needed to be set aside for you and only you. What is it that relaxes you and leaves you feeling calm and ready for the next wave of busyness? It may be something from the above stated, such as working out or watching Netflix, but it may also be journaling, reading, searching for new music, etc. Set aside time, even just a few minutes every other day, to do this activity.
Armstrong, L E, et al. “Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women.” The Journal of nutrition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 21 Dec. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22190027.