Fall semester burnout: it’s not just you

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Image credit: Redd F (via Unsplash)
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We are about two weeks away from the end of the fall semester, and many students have expressed that this semester has been extra stressful, tiring, draining, maddening, or any other applicable adjective.

It isn’t unusual to feel burnt out as the semester comes to a close. For me, these effects really begin to sink in when daylight saving time ends and the sun starts setting before 5 pm, and I know many other students feel the same.

“I find the reduced daylight hours make it harder to maintain my energy and focus levels during evening study sessions,” says fourth-year biology student Erin Hopkins. “I find this shift disrupts my routine and adds an extra layer of difficulty to the semester.”

“I also typically find fall semesters more draining due to the adjustment of higher-level courses and the overall transition into the school year,” she says.

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If you are feeling like this at all, know that you are not alone. The end of a semester is both exciting and terrible, but relief is just around the corner!

Combatting Stress

We are officially in the home stretch where it begins to feel like the assignments are never-ending, but there are ways to combat the stress of a heavy workload:

Scheduling

It is extremely beneficial to keep schedules, calendars, lists, planners, or anything that helps you stay on track with your assignments and other tasks.

This might seem like overkill, but keeping a physical planner and calendar, as well as a “Microsoft To Do” list, has really helped me throughout the semester. When I’m feeling especially burnt out, it helps to simply write or rewrite my to-do list to remind myself of what needs to be done.

Transparency

As students, it’s easy to forget that your professors were in your shoes once. No harm can come from being transparent with them about the stress you are experiencing.

Certain assignments allow for extensions, and you can always reach out for one where appropriate. Office hours are a great place to discuss with an instructor what you can do to improve and what you should be focusing on.

University can feel like a pressure cooker, and this often self-inflicted pressure may push you toward perfectionist tendencies. Transparency is key in these situations, and can really pay off.

Study Spaces

I tend to get antsy after studying in the same spot for over an hour or two and find it really helps to change things up. Go for a walk around campus, grab a coffee, or find a new spot.

I get the most work done in the single study rooms at the library, which are free to book at any time, and I gravitate to the UC or Jumping Bean if I’m feeling less productive, or just want to relax in between classes.

Sometimes campus becomes draining after a long day of classes, so you can always branch out to another study spot or cafe off campus, or simply just go home and sleep off the unproductivity.

Comparison

Comparison is a killer, and it can be hard not to compare yourself to others, especially during exam season. You should try to avoid this at all costs, everyone goes at their own pace, and your personal best will not always align with someone else’s. This goes further than just grades, if you are experiencing significant stress and another student isn’t, that’s completely normal.

Some people feel totally fine when they take 5, or even 6 courses, whereas other students struggle to take 3 during a semester. It’s important to go at your own pace and remember that everyone is different, every semester is different, so be kind to yourself as you navigate what’s best for you.

Resources

When things simply become too strenuous, it is never a bad idea to reach out for help.

The Student Wellness and Counselling Centre (SWCC), provides free, 24/7 virtual mental health support for MUN Students. Help is only a call or text away, you can contact them at:

  • 1-844-451-9700 within North America
  • 001-416-380-6578 outside of North America

If you are experiencing serious distress, you can contact the 24-hour mental health crisis line at:

  • (709) 737-4668 within Newfoundland and Labrador
  • 1-888-737-4668 province-wide
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Olivia Harrhy
Olivia is a 4th-year Communication Studies and Sociology student at MUN. Fostering a passion for reading and writing since a young age, she is now pursuing a career in journalism.