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Mental Health

Summative Season, Dissertations, and Mid-term Burn out

The glorious Summative Season. 

For those of you who haven’t been at Durham for long, or the pandemic has taken away all your perception of time (it sure has taken mine – 2020 more like 2019?), the end of the Epiphany term is a time of juxtaposition for the uni student. Winter is coming to an end, spring has just been broken, the days are finally longer, and the flowers one the side of the road are blooming again. And yet, we are stuck working for these deadlines coming up in the middle of March. As a friend once pointed out as we were starting a seminar in a room overlooking a nice stretch of greenery on the edge of the Science site, the good weather is almost “taunting”. 

It is what it is, and we are here to share a few tips to make this challenging time of the year better for you. 

  1. Take Breaks 

Yes, the cliche tip in every self-help book, article, etc. you can ever find. But the reason why it’s always there is because it’s effective, and massively overlooked. For me, I find myself to be a bit of a workaholic, and often feel guilty or ashamed about taking breaks during term time, or asking for extensions when I’m literally losing sleep chasing a deadline. In my final year in Durham, however, I finally started to relax a little, whether it’s because of third-year burn out, or because I’m finally treating myself better. And I’m not going to lie, the results are rather astonishing – the dissertation chapter I was panicking over? Done in a day. 

So the next time you find yourself slaving over a paragraph in an essay or a question in a five-parter for hours on end, take a break, let your brain reboot itself. Trust that you have everything you need to do well in your assignments, and remember – genius cannot be rushed. 

  1. Exercise 

This might come across as a strange tip, some of you might even consider it time-consuming, and I agree – it’s pointless wasting time not working for your deadlines. However, I have found working out a great way to elevate some of the stress I have been feeling towards uni work, my future, Covid, you name it. Sometimes stress might be clouding your brain and keeping you from performing at your best. A quick workout can do wonders to clear your mind and help you focus on the task at hand afterwards. 

  1. Food

It’s easy to forget to eat when you’re chasing deadlines. Personally I have times where my stomach is rumbling up a storm and yet I didn’t want to break this writing flow I’ve got going on. Hopefully, it’s pretty clear this is very unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs. 

One of the ways I have tried to work around this is keeping snacks close to my work environment, whether it be a chocolate bar, some fruit, or a bag of crisps, as long as there’s something to hold you over till your next meal. 

Meal prepping is also a good way of making sure there’s always healthy, homemade food ready-made in the fridge or freezer. Not everyday you feel like cooking, and making a meal from scratch does take up more of that precious time in working towards your deadline. Meal prep is a good way of making sure food gets in your belly without taking up half of your day. 

  1. Treat Yourself

This is an important one. Whether it be ordering takeaway once in a while, or bingeing a whole series on Netflix after a long week’s work, you must reward yourself for making it through another week this term. I have found that setting something you enjoy and love as a goal for the end of a week gives you the motivation to go on through the days, and the satisfaction when that thing you’ve been working towards for the whole week is finally achieved makes it all worthwhile. 

We hope these tips help you along the way as we approach the end of term. Remember, take care of yourself, and smash those deadlines.

Celia Lee

Durham '22

Editor for the Durham page, currently in my 3rd year
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