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Beating Burnout 101: How To Deal With End of Semester Stress

At a school that puts as much emphasis on academics as Boston College, students are no strangers to burnout. For as long as I can remember, academic burnout has been my worst enemy. The feeling of pushing aside your exhaustion to write one more paragraph or finish one more page of reading before your class has become second nature to me. In high school, I drove myself to the brink of insanity and back to achieve good grades, and I brought that habit with me to BC. Given my long history with burnout, I hope to give you some of my tips and tricks to break free from this toxic relationship, especially as the end of the semester approaches. I’ve found that these have helped me deal with the emotional—and sometimes physical—stress of finals season and its good friend: burnout.

Check In With Yourself

I know that the “That Girl” mentality—the mentality that not having a clean-cut routine means you’re a failure—has been trending on TikTok and Instagram, and while I’m its number one hater, I have to admit that some of the habits it promotes have helped me deal with my own burnout. Firstly, as a communication major and journalism minor, it’s no surprise that I enjoy writing, so journaling in the morning and at night has helped me get some of these feelings of exhaustion off my chest. A journal is obligated to listen to your every thought and feeling, and you know that it’s not going to betray your confidence. It’s like a therapist but a lot cheaper. If you don’t like journaling, then I highly suggest doodling or making a comfort playlist, as these activities allow you to take a moment to check in with yourself throughout the day. These activities help me channel my emotions in a positive way, rather than bottling them up.

Another great way to check in with yourself is to take a walk. Whether it’s a lap around the Res or a walk through the Quad between study sessions, getting outside and moving your body is a great way to deal with stress. It reminds you that there are things outside of your O’Neill study cubicle or the dim lighting of your dorm’s study room. Breathing in fresh air and basking in the sunlight gives you time to remind yourself that you’re more than a caffeinated, anxious work machine.

Create Routines That Motivate You

If you’re anything like me, your TikTok For You page understands you better than anyone. So, when @thejarr came across my FYP with her list of rules for a first date, I had to give her a follow. Since then, Eli Rallo—a.k.a. @thejarr—has soared to the top of my favorite influencers list. She gives the best advice in the most hilarious, charming way, and my favorite is to find a routine that makes you excited. Whether that be looking forward to having your favorite breakfast in the morning or attending a Taylor Swift–themed spin class at the Plex, finding something that makes you excited to start your day can really change your perspective. When I began creating these routines, I’ll admit I thought that it was just going to be silly and that I would relapse back into my burnout. But, doing things that excite me first thing in the morning shifted my day-to-day attitude completely.

I say this not to show off how I am now a morning person—a part of my personality that my mother still finds unbelievable—but to give you an idea of how easy shifting your attitude can be. All of my friends think I’m insane for being at the Plex at 6:30 a.m., but it’s something that I genuinely enjoy. My routine gives me a sense of balance and excitement for no other reason than I love what I do every morning when I wake up. If you feel off or overwhelmed, a routine gives you the chance to find a sense of normalcy, especially when you’re doing things you find fun. 

Academic burnout is not a fun feeling, but I hope that these tips help you find a way to cope with the inevitable stress that comes with the end of the semester. With finals creeping up and deadlines coming closer, it’s hard not to become overwhelmed with work and studying, but it’s important to remember that your mental and physical health should always come first. Even as I’m writing this, I’m experiencing some of the worst academic burnout I’ve felt in a while. I’m still learning how to take care of myself, but doing these things has helped me find a sense of stability even when it feels like I have a never-ending pile of work waiting for me. It can be hard trying to balance your schoolwork, social life, and taking care of yourself, but hopefully these tips can be a guide through your academic burnout.

April 10, 2022

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