How To Deal With The Semester When Everything Seems Mentally Draining

So we are getting to that point in the semester where you’re starting to fall off the routine. Maybe you’ve allowed yourself to sleep in a little later than you should, which led to you being a little late every day for the past two weeks. Or maybe (just maybe) you have even skipped classes already. Don’t get me wrong; we have all been there and right about now is that time in the semester where everything starts coming at you all at once. You just can’t seem to catch a break no matter what you do. You want to stay in your routine, but BAM there’s a test tomorrow and BAM you have work in the morning and BAM you need to meet up for that group project and the cycle keeps repeating and repeating until the end of the semester comes and you just feel like all of your life has been sucked out of you with a straw. Worry not, though, because before it can get that bad, take a deep breath with me while I walk you through dealing with those classes that are sucking the life out of you.

The first part of this is just to take a minute (well, five minutes) to sit down and breathe. Just sit, calm down, and relax for a moment. Tell yourself everything is going to be okay and that you’ve got this. Curse at yourself, cry, get everything out of your system, do something mentally and just breathe. This can also be substituted with making yourself a cup of tea or changing clothes, whatever you need to do just to take a moment and mentally reset.

Now, for my girls who don’t use a planner or calendar (myself included), make a list of all the things that need to be done, listing them or numbering them from highest priority to lowest priority and the date that they need to be completed by. Also, list work, meetings, and any other obligations you have for the week and date them, so you know what you have coming up and when everything needs to happen.

Woman holding a white mug with breakfast food and a book open on a bed

This next step can be done based on whatever you feel more comfortable with, or how much time you have, you can either start working on the list with the items that are of highest priority and have the shortest turnaround time, with the items that are the quickest that way you can mark more items off the list faster, or the items that take the longest to get them out of the way and not have to worry about them later in the week. Personally, I do a combination. Often times, the highest priority items are the biggest tasks, so I will start with those and if I need a break working away from it, I will knock out one or two of the shorter, quick tasks to keep everything efficiently moving along.

At some point in this process, you should take a break. This is also based upon personal preference (as I am a glutton for punishment and have a hard time stepping away from my work because it breaks my flow, and I find it hard to get back into the work.) If you just want to take a moment to stretch, grab a snack, shower, take a walk, check your email whatever you need just to have a personal moment that is not spent hunched over your laptop like a goblin as you furiously type a paper, you do that.

Dealing with the semester also means that you may have to re-evaluate your schedule. Are you stretching yourself too thin and need to cut your hours at work or drop one or two extracurriculars? You don’t want to put yourself in a bad financial situation, but if you have the opportunity to lessen your hours in favor of less stress and more academic success, do it. The same goes for sports or clubs; you are in college to learn and get a degree, and yeah, the process should be fun, but extracurricular activities shouldn’t be a source of stress or adding mounds of stress to an already full plate.

Everything comes down to what you can handle and how you process stress and your own personal workload. Everyone handles pain differently and has a different tolerance for stress, so just because you’re fine working three jobs and taking 21 credits, doesn’t mean that the person taking 15 credits with one job is having an easier time. Everyone is going through their own personal problems and struggle, especially throughout college, so the best thing you can do is be there for others when you can and put yourself first sometimes.