December has arrived; the month every college student dreams of in August and the month that drags the most when it comes around. At this point, it's been over 10 weeks of classes, working at least part-time on the side, dealing with assignments and readings and a lot more. Finals are coming, and a lot of us are already dealing with them, while at the same time, dealing with tiredness, lack of energy and in many cases, procrastination. Our bodies demand a nap, but our wallets require us to go to work and our brains are asking us to finish that assignment.
Collective burnout happens at the end of every semester when we are all just trying to pull it together, push through and pass our assignments. All this goes on while also having to deal with the anxiety of the holidays, or the overtime given to employees in every retail store. We ask ourselves, “How am I supposed to take time off? When am I supposed to rest?”
It feels like an endless cycle. Sadly, necessity and burnout do not hold the greatest relationship. Burnout yells things like, “Please, five more minutes in bed this morning,” “Let's go to sleep now,” “Could we go take a nap right now” and “Give me some food.”
Meanwhile, necessity disagrees, arguing, “Where am I supposed to get the money if I don’t put in these hours at work,” “I need to get an A in this class” and “A nap is not possible. I have a million things to do.” It feels as if it is an endless argument. Even though it feels this way, in most cases, these are things outside of our control. It’s something we simply aren’t able to change, and the argument, indeed, will not end until the last assignment is submitted. Regardless, there are little things that might help with burnout when you aren’t able to take a day off fully or a break.
There are a few ways to help alleviate the stress that burnout and necessity bring to the table. Creating a checklist of tasks you need to do and organizing in which order they should be done can help give a sense of structure and accomplishment as they’re completed. If your assignments are mapped out and you have the time allotted for each paper, homework or project, it helps out a bit. This also helps by keeping you caught up with your school work, which in college can be a daunting task during the semester, especially the last few weeks.
Another important method to keep in mind is to drink and eat as necessary. Try not to skip meals and keep a water bottle with you at all times to stay hydrated. Being hydrated helps improve overall health, while eating when needed helps us maintain our energy throughout the day. Think of when you had to take the SAT or an equivalent college-entrance exam and your teachers would always tell you to have a big breakfast and bring a water bottle with you. That applies to this scenario as well.
Take small breaks if you can; while studying or doing an assignment. It can be as simple as allowing yourself 10-15 minutes to relax, walk around or breathe.
Lastly: Ask for help when needed. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. Even if it is having someone to vent to or asking help via tutoring, reading over your paper or merely assisting you in memorizing content, it never hurts to ask. Reach out to your friends and loved ones, and always keep in mind that asking for help is an advantage. There are even resources on the RIC campus dedicated to helping out students during this stressful part of the semester.
You will be surprised how many people are in the same boat as you. Therefore, be kind to yourself and to others during this very stressful time.