Ask Life: How do I deal with mid-term burnout?

Manage the time you can, but never be afraid to take a step back



Everyone experiences burnout; you are not alone.

KESTRA ENGSTROM, Managing editor

Editor’s note: The Daily Evergreen has decided to continue the Ask Emma column under a new name: Ask Life. 

Dear Life Section,

It’s only mid-way through the semester, but I feel so burnt out on everything. All my professors are having exams, papers and assignments at the same time, and I’m having a lot of trouble keeping up with everything, let alone finding time to take care of myself. How do I deal with my mid-term burnout so I can get through the rest of the semester?


College Burnout


Dear College Burnout,

First off, do not get down on yourself! Burnout is totally normal, especially during midterms. Keep your head up and know that you are not alone. Burnout sucks, but there are things you can do about it.

It is important to try and recognize when burnout is creeping up on you before it gets to the point where you just can’t do anything anymore, so check in with yourself: how are you feeling? Are you feeling motivated to study for your exams and finish all your assignments, or does the mere idea of academia make your brain hurt?

If you answered the latter, you are definitely starting to feel burnout. Luckily, we have got some tips for those early stages.

Try to focus on your time management. Check your calendars, syllabi and wherever else you have assignments. Figure out which are the most important, then make a to-do list with those at the top.

I know, I know, to-do lists are overdone. In order to stick to them and motivate yourself, reward yourself for finishing everything! You deserve it!

Even if you do not finish everything on the list, still try and reward yourself. You put in the effort, and that deserves to be recognized.

Additionally, dedicate some time for self-care in your list. That might be as simple as saying you are going to stop working at 8 p.m. no matter what you have finished in order to get enough sleep, or it could be a scheduled self-care spa night. Tailor your self-care to what you enjoy!

Sometimes, of course, you just have too much going on for a to-do list to be reasonable. If you feel like you are spending all your time working and you are still not checking everything off, it might be time to take a step back.

It will not be easy, but it is time to start saying no. No, you can’t work that extra shift this weekend. No, you can’t take on that extra project. No, you can’t go to that event this evening. Saying no does not mean you are a failure; it means you are allowing yourself to put your energy into something more important: your mental health.

Once you have made time for yourself and lightened your load, your burnout will start to alleviate and you can push through. However, if it does not, it is time to start asking for help.

I totally get it, asking for an extension on an assignment can feel like the end of the world. It can be hard to admit to yourself that you are struggling and need that extra time, and even harder to admit to your professors.

However, the worst-case scenario is a no from your professor. That is the beauty of asking. You get a no, and nothing changes, and that’s OK. Best-case scenario? You get some much-needed relief.

It is also critical to think long-term. If you get a no to that extension, but you just can’t finish that assignment by the due date, it’s OK.

Fifty, twenty, ten, five, maybe even one year from now, you are not going to remember if you turned in a paper a couple of days late.

At the end of the day, you are only in college for four years, and you should not have to spend those four years as a little ball of anxiety and burnout. Do your best to stay on track and manage your time, but remember that there is no shame in taking a step back and doing what you need to do for your mental health. 

And there is never shame in asking for help.

I hope this helps you manage that mid-term burnout. You’ve got this!


The Life Section