College is stressful especially when it's the second semester. We all go through feelings of stress and anxiety, but if these feelings are not coped with properly they can lead to student burnout. However, it can be hard to stay motivated when you have a never-ending pile of homework and infinite tests to study for.
Here are some tips and advice on how to avoid burnout and stay motivated so that you can make the very best of this semester.
1. Remember why you are here and what your long-term goals are.
Getting discouraged by an impossibly rigorous course load is all too easy and we've all been there before. We've all asked ourselves "Why am I doing this?" When you find yourself thinking like that it is very important to process those thoughts and the emotions associated with them. You have to remind yourself why you are here; to get a degree, to start your career, or whatever long-term goal you are hoping to get out of your college career. Now I'm not saying that changing your thinking will automatically make you more productive, but it will definitely help you put things in perspective and see the forest through the tress. Sometimes all we need to do is adjust our lens. Instead of thinking "How am I possibly going to finish this essay and study for this test? I should just give up now," say "Why am I doing this? How will this benefit my future career?"
2. Don't approach everything with a feeling of dread. Instead, fake it till you make it.
As college students, we all experience feelings of dread whether it be directed towards writing that paper, doing your calculus homework, or even just attending that one annoying lecture. There are going to be classes, projects, and even professors that you don't like and that's okay, but it is not okay to dread everything. Instead, fake it till you make it. I know it sounds cheesy, but if you pretend to be fascinated and interested in everything you are learning, eventually you will regain your motivation and might even see a class you previously disliked in a new light. Happy students are productive students. If you approach assignments with a sense of dread, then you will feel no motivation to finish them. But if you try to have a genuine interest in your coursework, you will have a greater sense of motivation and productivity.
3. Have a study buddy.
Having a good friend or classmate to study with is another great way to boost your motivation. The two of you don't even have to be studying for the same test or working on the same assignment. You can set up a time to meet up at the library and just do work for a set amount of time. This can actually be really helpful because it will make you feel less alone. It can be difficult to start your work when you are sitting all alone in your room, staring a stack of assignments. Sometimes, it helps to get out of your room, meet up with a friend, and do work together. This will help you feel less alone and more motivated.
4. Know your limits.
Working hard is essential to being successful in college, however many college students tend to overwork themselves which leads directly to burnout. When I started my first semester of college I would just work and work until I finished all my assignments. Although I was able to finish my work I kept wondering why I was so tired. Because of my refusal to take a break until all my work was done, I plowed through all of my energy reserves and was extremely burned out. From this experience I learned the importance of knowing my limits aka knowing when to give myself breaks. I know that taking breaks from your work sounds counterintuitive, but it is extremely important. Even taking a 5-10 minute break in between your work to walk around, get a drink of water, or call a friend can be very helpful. You should try to take a break every hour because it can actually boost productivity and motivation.
5. Practice self-care and do things that make you happy.
Self-care is another great way to stay motivated and avoid burnout. If you feel good, you will be more productive. It's important to practice some form of self-care everyday whether it be doing a face mask, working out, calling your friends, journaling, the possibilities are endless! As long as you do things that make you happy and help you de-stress. Sometimes, it helps to step away from your work and focus on yourself for a little while. Taking care of your mental and physical health is key to avoiding burnout.
6. Stay in the moment.
This is something that I think all college students, including myself, tend to struggle with. It can be very hard to focus on the present if you are stressed about the future. However, worrying too much about the future can be detrimental to your present circumstances. For instance, let's say that you need to do really well on a certain test so that you can get an A in the class and maintain a good GPA. If you focus too much on the future and worry about how your GPA will be affected if you don't ace this test, you may jeopardize your performance on the test. You may not be able to focus properly when you study, therefore not performing well on the test. This is a vicious cycle that many students go through, but it's important to remember that a little bit of stress is good, but a lot of stress is bad. Thus, it's important to take one day at a time and set small goals for yourself. Yes, keeping your long-term goals in mind is also important, but you should try not to worry too much about the future.
7. Clear your head and stay organized.
When we are stressed we can have a lot of thoughts jumbled up and racing around in our heads. We may not notice it, but this can be quite exhausting. Something that I found to be extremely helpful is putting my thoughts down on paper whether it be writing all of my homework down in my planner, making to-do lists, journaling, or using Google Calendar (if you want to take the digital route). I always feel better after writing things down. It makes my tasks feel more tangible and it's less likely that I will forget something. This also helps me stay organized and clear my headspace. Having a clear head is essential because it allows you to focus on what's important. Writing things down in an organized manner helps you stay motivated and decreases the risk of burnout.
8. Have a strong support system.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a strong system. Having someone who you trust whether it be your parents, friends, teachers, etc. is essential to being successful in college. We all get stressed out, but how we handle that stress determines the effect it has on us. If you keep all your feelings bottled up, you will not be able to release your stress in a healthy way. Sometimes you just need to call up your mom or your best friend and vent a little bit. Talking to someone about your feelings will help you let go of those emotions of stress and anxiety. It's important to talk to someone who will make you feel better and motivated, someone who reminds you of the big picture. Avoiding burnout means dealing with your stress and talking it out with a trusted individual is one of the best ways to do this.
College is hard and you will, inevitably, get stressed out, but remember why you are here and remember that you are striving towards a successful future. Hopefully, these tips help you stay motivated and avoid burnout throughout this semester. Good luck and remember you got this!