How to Avoid End-of-Semester Burnout

Tired student trying to study in the night

As the semester gets whittled away, so too might your patience and sanity. Under the weight of papers, projects and finals, it’s easy to feel like you’re at the end of your rope.

We’ve got a couple of tips and tricks you can employ to help maintain your composure for the last few weeks of school. Why not save that breakdown for when you visit your parents over the holidays?

Though there’s a lot of small pieces of advice we can give you when it comes to conquering the end of a semester, most of it boils down to one key point: keep yourself level-headed, at least as much as possible.

Of course, actual physical factors contribute to your stress as winter break draws near – deadlines, tests and what have you – but often, students cause themselves undue stress and worry. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you’ve convinced yourself, you’re not ready to take on an end-of-semester workload, that’s probably true. So what can you do to keep in a positive state of mind?


1. Take breaks

Obviously, you’ve got a ton of work to do during this period, but don’t get so consumed by it that you forget to breathe. Try to craft a schedule for yourself that you have the discipline to follow – for example, take a 5-minute break every hour or 15 minutes off after every 120 spent hitting the books. Not only is nonstop studying frustrating, but it’s also counterproductive. You need to air out your brain (and move your legs!) every once in a while.

2. Keep a physical schedule

Along with the first point, make sure you’re keeping track of what you have to get done and when you have to do it. That becomes much easier if you have a physical record – either on paper, on an app in your cell phone, or your computer – of the weeks leading up to and including your finals.

The $4.99 or so it costs to buy a day-planner could be one of the best investments you make, or you can use the calendar app you already have on your phone! Scheduling helps you parse out your tasks such that you can order them and take them on one by one, which is a huge psychological help. Wouldn’t you rather feel like you’re working on one project instead of a dozen?


3. Stay on top of your work

Take things as they come. That’s mostly the point of having a schedule to begin with. Look at what’s due next or what test is coming up soon, and throw most of your energy into that. Prioritize. Even if your final in five days scare you silly, there’s no real sense in worrying about it until you feel adequately prepared for your other final in two days.


4. Keep healthy

Take walks or go for jogs (maybe at your campus’ indoor gym if you find yourself in cold climates). Get enough sleep to allow yourself to function properly. Eat! Eating could also be a good way to keep yourself social – make time in your studying to go down to the cafeteria with friends or maybe trek off-campus for dinner to celebrate completing a final or another major project (so long as you’ve got nothing too significant looming the next morning).


5. Above all else, keep things in perspective

Though college performance is important, it isn’t the most important thing in the world. Please don’t sacrifice your mental or physical well-being because you think it will get you a better grade. In actuality, it will probably hurt. If you’ve done all you can for a class and still don’t think salvaging a decent grade is within your reach, you may have to let that one go this semester. Please don’t beat yourself up about it too much

you can always re-take the class. If nothing else, let it be a lesson to work harder at the beginning of the next semester and not put things off ’til the end. Spreading out your workload over a whole semester will make your life a lot easier and, believe it or not, more fun.