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Tips for Combatting Mid-Semester Fatigue

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mich chapter.

We’ve all been there. We’ve worked hard all semester, but the initial excitement of a new year and new classes has worn off, and cramming for midterms has left us devoid of energy. During the later half of the semester, college students are particularly vulnerable to burnout. If you are struggling with mid-semester fatigue, know that you are not alone in this feeling. At this point in the semester, it’s important to evaluate how you’re doing and take the necessary steps to take care of yourself and avoid burnout. Here are a few tips that can help you manage mid-semester fatigue.

Take care of your physical health

It would be difficult to find a college student that hadn’t adopted at least a few unhealthy habits by this point in the semester, but taking care of your physical health is an important part of managing your mental health. Never underestimate the value of sleep, diet, and exercise. Too often as college students, we sacrifice sleep for productivity. Getting more sleep will help increase your energy and daily productivity and boost your immune system. Plan ahead to avoid all-nighters, and try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Taking care of yourself also means having regular, balanced meals. As basic as this sounds, it’s pretty easy to accidentally skip meals in favor of work or slip into a caffeine and junk food fueled diet. Make a conscious effort to maintain a healthy diet, and try to get in some form of regular exercise every day. Exercise doesn’t have to be elaborate or intense. It can be as simple as a daily walk. Just having something that gets you moving will help give your mind a rest from school and reduce stress.

Set achievable goals

If you’re a college student who hasn’t had much trouble with procrastination, I envy you. At this point in the semester, keeping up with the amount of work on your plate might be becoming increasingly difficult. To stay on track with your commitments, try setting simple, achievable goals by breaking down your work into smaller tasks. Individual tasks may feel like more achievable hurdles than one large goal. Each time you are able to check a box off your to-do list, no matter how small the task, it may provide some sense of accomplishment and even more motivation to keep pushing forward. Try to set soft deadlines for yourself to avoid procrastination, but also don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss them. This system might not work for everyone, but in general, do some self-reflection to figure out what motivates you to action, and build your goals around that.

Take breaks

As college students, we live in a productivity-focused world, and there’s so much pressure to be always working, always achieving. As a result, we sometimes feel a sense of guilt when we allocate time away from our high stress school-related activities. To avoid burning out, you need to give yourself permission to take a break. Build breaks into your daily routine, and allow yourself moments of relief from the pressure of upcoming deadlines.

Make time for fun

In our pursuit of productivity, we sometimes spend so much time building our transcripts and resumes that we neglect our hobbies. Let go of the guilt you may feel when you’re not working, and give yourself permission to pursue activities that you genuinely enjoy, even if they don’t contribute towards your academic or professional goals. Read a book. Learn an instrument. Paint a picture. Write a song. There are countless hobbies you could pick up. Make time for yourself to do something you enjoy and actually have fun.

Set boundaries

If you currently find yourself overwhelmed with the commitments you made at the beginning of the semester, know that this is a very common problem. When the semester starts, we often have much more energy and enthusiasm and sometimes that leads us to sign up for too many clubs, take too many classes, volunteer for too many tasks, and in general — overcommit. If you find yourself in this position, it’s important to evaluate your schedule honestly and ask whether you really have the space for everything you signed up for. You should also consider the balance between your school-related commitments and your mental health. You want to have time built into your schedule for taking breaks, spending time with friends and family, and doing things you enjoy. If you find that certain commitments are causing you too much stress, give yourself permission to adjust your schedule accordingly. This is a delicate balance, and it may take you time to find it, but it’s important that you be flexible and willing to prioritize yourself in these situations.

This is a challenging time to be a college student. Whether or not these tips work for you, it’s important to recognize how far you’ve come and how hard you’ve worked to get there. Reflect on where you are and how you feel at this point in the semester, and adopt a growth mindset to readjust your habits going forward. Even when things get tough, always be kind to yourself, and give yourself time, and I promise you will be okay. 

Natasha is a senior from Nashville, TN, studying business at the University of Michigan. Outside of Her Campus, she's involved in Michigan Business Women and plays violin in an orchestra on campus.