The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Ask Gabby: How to get through mid-semester burnout

5 min read

Students usually experience mid-semester slump around week nine due to stress. | Fernando / Unsplash

by GABBY CARRION

Senior Writer

Burnout is one of the worst things that can happen to a student in college. It makes you feel sluggish, unmotivated and tired all the time. In high school, some people refer to it as “senior slump” or “senioritis,” but I’m a junior and I’m not the only one feeling it.

Around week eight or nine of the semester, even if you don’t have midterms to get through, you may hit that mid-semester wall where, suddenly, every day feels like a Monday. As someone who has experienced burnout before, I understand how it feels to have 50 million assignments on my plate, while also dealing with drama, confusing feelings and unnecessary conflict in clubs and friend groups. I will be the first to tell you, it kind of sucks.

Sometimes I just want to call my mom and give her a hug, go on a shopping spree and, most times, I really just want to sing in the shower. As odd as it might sound, it can feel very cathartic to put on some music and just sing your heart out—it’s free therapy if you ask me. 

To help you get through the rest of the semester in one piece, here are some of my favorite things to help with burnout, along with some tips and tricks on staying productive and positive.

Get outside

While this one may sound self-explanatory, the importance of getting outside goes much further than just a healthy habit. Walking, hiking, running or any other form of exercise is known to boost your mood due to the release of endorphins. Exercise can make you more productive and also give you the chance to soak in some Vitamin D. 

Vitamin D is something that both physical and mental health professionals preach all the time. The benefits of getting out go much deeper than just enjoying the warmth of the sun. While being in the sunlight can boost your mentality, it also boosts the production of Vitamin D in your body, which can help prevent depression and anxiety.

If you ever find yourself needing a quick study break, take some time to go outside and go for a walk down Campus Walk or even just sit outside and read. The campus has a lot of places to explore and it can be a nice breath of fresh air to get out of your room and take a break.

Read a Book

This might sound counterproductive to some people considering that all we seem to be doing these days is read. However, if you take some time to yourself and pick up a book that doesn’t have anything to do with your homework or studies, you might feel a sense of relief. 

If you need to find a good book and aren’t sure where to go, I recommend Riverby Books in downtown Fredericksburg. It is a three-story building filled with secondhand books that you can buy for a relatively low price. This makes it a great option for college students who don’t want to spend too much money. Another option would be to stop by Simpson Library and pick out a book to borrow, and, while you’re at it, visit the treehouses upstairs. The entire floor is silent and it’s a perfect place to block out noise.

One of my personal favorite ways to decompress is to pick up a book, preferably a classic, and sit out on one of the green areas on campus. A lot of UMW students like to do their work on Ball Circle, but if you want a quieter and more closed-off place to sit, Jefferson Square is a great option. You can sit under a tree to get some shade or put out a blanket on the huge lawn.

Reading outside on a crisp fall day is somewhat meditative, and if you happen to fall asleep while reading, just look at it as taking a well-deserved nap. 

Go on an Adventure

One of my favorite things to do is just leave my work environment. If I am studying at home or at the HCC and I feel tired, sometimes a quick trip to Target makes me feel more motivated to keep working. Something about the atmosphere at Target can lift my mood in an instant. Also if a piece of clothing or a cute decor item catches my eye, I’ll treat myself a little bit. 

Since it’s the fall, a fun road trip to a pumpkin patch is also relaxing. Go up to Cox Farms with your friends, or a local pumpkin patch near Fred. You can pick out a perfect pumpkin to carve, eat some kettle corn, and soon enough you’ll be back to studying for your Chem midterm and feeling motivated.

Self-care

Another thing you can do to beat burnout is a little bit of well-deserved self-care. Self-care might sound simple, or even lame to some, but it can really change your mood around. 

It is incredibly important to take wellness seriously and let yourself rest. It honestly might help you, and if it doesn’t, then at least you have glowing skin and a clear mind. One thing that I really like to do is turn on some music when I’m driving home. I love screaming Taylor Swift, Emblem3 or Luke Combs while making my way down Route 1. The best part about this is that you don’t even have to be a good singer to enjoy the serotonin boost that this brings on. I find myself smiling between the chorus and second verse because I’m just so happy. 

Obviously, burnout can be caused by many things piling up on your plate, so if possible, try to cut back on a couple of things. You can’t cut back with class assignments, but with clubs, practices or meetings, I’m sure they would understand. Anything to make your life a little easier, no matter how small it might seem, can go a long way with feeling burnt out. 

Another piece of self-care advice that you should take advantage of is talking to your friends and family. Sometimes all you really need is to vent about the things that you’re going through, whether it be a test, an important paper, or a tricky professor. Calling my best friend to talk about what is going on in our lives is therapeutic and allows both of us to get our troubles off of our chests. Itr also helps to know that someone else is dealing with the same struggles as you and that can feel motivational. 

I hope some of these tips help you break out of that mid-semester slump. Just keep in mind that you are not the only one going through it and it’s okay to get stressed out sometimes. If you have any questions you would like me to answer, please direct message @theblueandgraypress on Instagram. 

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