By Jillian Fiddler
Happy Sienafest Saints! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am looking forward to a couple days of fun and festivities before our final stretch of the academic year. That being said, when the last event ends finals will quickly be upon us and the stress of the end of the semester is going to infiltrate our lives – if it hasn’t done so already. This is why I am dedicating this bLAb to techniques for working through possible burnout and finishing strong so the summer break is just as satisfying as we all deserve it to be.
Set reasonable goals:
I am a chronic procrastinator, so I know about unfinished to-do lists and packed google calendars all too well. That’s why I am so aware of the importance of setting reasonable goals. When you outline a couple of things to get done during a time period instead of a never-ending laundry list of tasks, it helps motivate you to keep going. My suggestion is to make a to-do list for the day and list assignments or tasks that take no more than 3 hours to complete in all. Then, under these, start a new list of “extra” things that you can move on to ONLY if you finish the ones above. Keeping the initial list small makes you feel accomplished when you complete one and are ready to start the next instead of dreading beginning because you can’t see the end. Burnout is all about perspective, don’t set yourself up for failure when you can just as easily set yourself up for success.
Switch up your routine:
It can be easy to find yourself trapped in the same schedule and routine every day, and sometimes this is the only way to guarantee that you find time to eat or get to sleep on time. Although routines can be comforting and helpful in many ways, it’s also just as important to keep your brain willing to follow through with these schedules and not dread doing the same thing over and over again. This is why switching up your routine can be helpful. I’m not telling you to throw caution to the wind and have a day of random activities and tasks totally skew your priorities. All I’m suggesting is to maybe switching where you go to eat on a particular day or if you usually study by yourself, maybe ask some friends to join you in your dorm and all do homework together. A switch can even be as simple as swapping when you do what assignment. Switching up your routine helps your brain stay active and feel like it is necessary to keep functioning instead of shutting down out of boredom.
Do something fun:
Hopefully, you all take advantage of Sienafest, and it serves as a helpful reminder that doing something fun every once in a while is necessary. It’s easy to get trapped in the cycle of academic and work responsibilities and push aside social events. However, these low-stake activities are exactly what your brain needs to keep going strong. If you just sat down and studied for multiple hours in a row, I know you probably want to go back to your dorm and take a nap or scroll through your phone. As enticing as this sounds, maybe consider grabbing some food with a couple of friends, going on a walk with your roommate, or even studying some more but this time in the bottom level of the library, where you can joke and laugh without getting shushed. The point is that socialization and bringing a little joy into your day in any capacity will strengthen your mind and prevent burnout from settling in.
Learn to say no:
I’m going to be honest – I’m really, really bad at this. When you’re a college student, you sometimes think you’re invincible, meaning you tend to bite off way more than you can chew. I know it may feel like you always have to be doing something and staying productive, but it truly is okay just to be a student to take some time and only focus on your studies. This is why saying no is a crucial skill that I feel everyone should know exists. As long as you are kind, polite, and the world will not end if you don’t get involved, then it is okay to say no when someone asks for your help or participation. Extracurriculars are supposed to be fun, but there’s no way that’s possible when you’re a part of so many that you can’t even find time to breathe. Saying no is not a sign of weakness; it shows great strength and proves that you have your priorities set and are willing to establish boundaries.
Sometimes burnout is just too strong, and it’s going to take more than a couple of quick tricks to help you to make it through the end of the semester successfully. That’s okay. This is exactly why Siena College has resources in place and at the ready – to help its students when they need a little extra support. Advisors and Professors are always great people to go to for advice, as well as CAs and the Friars. In addition, the campus has a very active office of Health Promotion where students can seek resources for counseling and any wellness and health concerns. No matter your question, there is someone on campus who can assist and support you as you find your way back to stability.
School is stressful but that doesn’t mean we should let this stress take away and ruin all the hard work we have put into this semester. Let’s finish strong Saints!