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Stuck in a Slump? Here’s How to Get Out

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

A slump is defined as a sudden or marked decline or failure, as in progress or achievement; collapse.

This decline can refer to your level of motivation, productivity, performance at work or school, amount of sleep, diet, exercise and even socialization. Recently, I was in a slump, which can make one feel rather useless, guilty, and agitated. I felt overwhelmed every time I opened my emails or when a notification popped up on my phone. As a student, I’ve always been on top of my work and super organized, but during this de-motivating period, I found myself completing assignments right before the 11:59pm deadline or putting studying aside for later (or never). Usually, I would have a super productive week or two then fall into a burn-out; avoiding exercise, staying indoors, sleeping and eating poorly, self-isolating, putting off tasks, basically feeling totally…useless. If you’re currently experiencing a slump, don’t feel alone! It can happen to anyone, usually from overworking without taking adequate breaks and/or a lack of self-care.

Take Frequent Breaks

Being productive doesn’t mean working 24/7. With social media, more and more of these toxic productivity messages are overwhelming students, leading to unhealthy and unsustainable habits. Yes, perhaps some of these productivity videos or podcasts can serve as motivation…but always proceed with caution and use at your own risk. Each individual’s schedule is unique to them, so following someone else’s 9am to 9pm routine (which BTW — they may not even do everyday) can become exhausting and add unnecessary stress or guilt to your day.

By taking breaks when studying or working, your brain will come back refreshed and complete the task you’ve been staring blankly at with greater efficiency. For me, I know that after one hour, I must force myself to get up and walk around, refill my water, or maybe grab a snack. The next time you sit down to do some work, evaluate how long you are in deep, undisturbed focus. Once your attention starts to drift to other thoughts or things, or you begin to feel fatigued and slump (no pun intended) into your seat, get off of your chair and perhaps take a brisk stroll, crack open a window, talk to a friend, or find a new study spot.

Declutter your space

After living and breathing in the clutter, sometimes it’s best to start fresh. It may sound cliché, but perhaps replacing the used cups on your desk with a bouquet of flowers or a nice-smelling candle can help you feel more motivated to tackle your to-do list. If you’re like me and get really overwhelmed when there is too much stuff around, try donating some clothes, shoes, bags, or trinkets that have been sitting in your space collecting dust. If you haven’t used it in the past year or so, then you probably won’t use it anytime soon.

On the flip side, if you’re not the type who often shops for yourself, refresh your wardrobe with a few new clothing items or lighten up your space with some décor. Maybe a small indoor plant (snake plants are super easy to maintain), a warm throw blanket or pillow—basically anything that makes you feel happy and at home.

Weekends are Weekends

This is something even I’m still working on. The goal is to ensure that you have a full day or two to completely unwind and get your mind off school or work. I always used to treat weekends (especially Sunday) as a “catch-up” day and complete my assignments or study for upcoming exams. But I’ve realized that I’d scramble to complete work (because all weekend I was distracted by re-watching Bridgerton or reading a new book), leaving me to get barely enough work done before Monday morning. It’s as if the low productivity was telling me that I needed to spend an afternoon watching a comfort show or diving into a good book.

So, leave the weekends for a break or choose one day of the week (perhaps a day that you have no lectures), to do absolutely nothing school or work-related, guilt-free. Do things just because they make you feel happy. Perhaps call up a friend and arrange a cute picnic at Confederation Park, read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf for a month, bake some chocolate banana bread (your home will smell amazing), decorate for spring, or have a spa day. The possibilities are endless!

Connect with nature

I used to believe that “just get a little fresh air,” was an exaggeration when it came to brightening up my mood. Then I remembered how calm and at peace I felt during the 2020 lockdown, simply because I would go on walks frequently.. sometimes 2-3 times per day. Now that the weather is warming up, find an outdoor activity that makes you feel serene and completely refreshed. Even just going out on a 20-minute walk can get your blood flowing and release the tension you may have been hanging onto all day. Other activities that I love to do now and then are hiking (especially at Gatineau Park),yoga, soccer, beach volleyball, and dance.

Prioritize yourselF

The term “self-care” is not limited to physically pampering yourself—using silky serums and lip masks to try and glow-up overnight. Although taking care of your appearance is therapeutic and can work as a confidence-booster, what is equally as important is preserving your mental and emotional space. Devoting a lot of your time and energy to a certain task or person without stopping to look after yourself can eventually lead to burnout. In some cases, it’s important to say no to something or someone, no matter how guilty you may feel doing it. Your future self will appreciate it!

If you’re currently in a slump, I hope these tips can help you emerge from this temporary, slump-y period. Do know that like all things in life, this short phase will pass and you’ll come back even stronger!

Tamar Bedrosyan

U Ottawa '27

Tamar is a first-year student studying Biomedical Science at the University of Ottawa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys turning absolutely anything into an aesthetic and discovering new music.