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Semester burnout

Gazette student columnist offers advice on getting to the finish line

Student Life

By Madilyn Miller

It’s coming to that point in the semester where many students are drinking energy drinks at 10 p.m. to get their work done and are staying until the last second in the library to squeeze out every minute of productivity.

Deadlines are starting to flood in, and it is getting harder to keep up with them.

Shared experience

So, why am I writing about this?

On a class group-chat I’m in, many of us were sending panicked messages three hours before the deadline of a major essay and sharing our stress.

One classmate of mine said that it was nice to know other students felt the same, as it made them feel less alone in the stress.

I’m writing this to assure everyone who feels like their brain is on fire that it is okay. Many of us get it.

Is there a way to combat semester burnout?

I wish I had all the answers, but I will say this: taking a break will not be the make or break point of your work; an hour of rest time is just as productive.

“With a slightly refreshed brain, I wrote two more pages in one sitting.”

To put it into perspective, I was stressed over the weekend over my essay.

My partner had to literally drag me away from my computer to get me to relax (with 10 hours left until the deadline, I felt like it was the end of the world and I would never get it done in time, and I was going to fail … stress does strange things to your brain).

I ended up returning to my essay, and with a slightly refreshed brain, I wrote two more pages in one sitting.

A break will not kill you, and if you can’t afford a break, at least make a snack (bagel with cream cheese is my go-to!) and get some water to nourish yourself.

Here are some other recipes one can make during a break:

  • A cream-cheese and cucumber sandwich
  • Kraft dinner (a staple of Canadian households, quick and easy)
  • Goldfish (the cracker, not the animal)
  • ramen (staple of university culture)
  • strawberries, sour cream, and brown sugar: if you have access to these ingredients, this is a really good snack! Just dip the strawberry in sour cream and then brown sugar, it’s really good and also quick to eat.

As well, here are some activities that I do when I need a break:

  • Watch study vlogs on YouTube. This one seems strange, I know. But watching other people be productive, and make their notes pretty and put lofi music in the background, helps me to want to be productive. When I’m burned out, I tend to not want to do anything, so these videos help.
  • Dance party. Put on a good playlist and just vibe, lip-sync or do the little tiny dance many of us do when we’re enjoying the music but don’t want to dance outright in public. Trust me, it helps.
  • Complaining. This one can be counterproductive, but sometimes a good rant to someone can help if you’re about to boil over.
  • A genuine study break. I give this advice to everyone who asks. If you’re procrastinating, and hating yourself for it but can’t seem to work, have a genuine break. Tell yourself, “this is a study break, I am allowed to be on my phone” or whatever you like to do on study breaks, and take 15 or so minutes. Allowing yourself to have a break with no pressure to work can help you focus after, since the guilt of not working may have been worse than anything else.

Challenging time

I know it feels crazy right now.

You might feel like you’re about to collapse from mental exhaustion, or that the deadlines will never end.

Trust me, I get it.

I only hope you’re all okay, and will get a break soon, and I hope none of you feel alone in this.

Best of luck to everyone these next few weeks, please take care of yourselves!

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