It’s only the end of fall term ad I already feel burned out. How can I adjust my study habits so that I can get through the school year?


M. Erez Kats, Seattle Language Arts Teacher, Author, and Artist

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I agree with the above experts that you have to find a way to rest up and rejuvenate over the winter break because that is what these breaks are for, and then you simply have to come in to the second semester with a new outlook, new classes, and find your focus once again. The school year is a marathon, it is not a sprint. Pace yourself, and if you find that you have extra time on your hands, feel free to read ahead for some of your assignments, or just formulate a plan for how to map out the rest of the year. Even when you are in college too, it is still important to fit other activities like sports and going out to keep your life balanced. For some people, if they do too much of one thing (even if it is studying), then they start to feel out of balance. Make sure you are enjoying yourself, and also working hard with a steady focus throughout the year. And if you are on break, feel free to let loose and have fun at least a couple of nights. Good luck with the rest of the year!

Anonymous, Former graduate student

Assuming that you are now on winter break, I would start by trying to relax this break as much as possible and not worry about school. A big part of feeling burned out is overloading yourself on work and stress. Try to clear your brain and have as much fun as possible this break so that you can return to school with a fresh, unstressed mind.

The feeling of being burned out happens to everyone, including myself, and I've found that an important key in not getting burned out is to relieve yourself of stress as much as possible. This means taking breaks at certain intervals, whether it's taking a 15-minute break every hour of studying or treating yourself to your favorite snack after completing a big task or project. Studying pushes everyone to the feeling of feeling burned out, but sometimes you just need to step away from it, take a break, and then come back to tackle the work again. Best of luck with school and hopefully your feeling of being burned out passes!

Amy McElroy, SMU Law School graduate, Writer, Editor, and Parent of Two

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I agree that burnout at the end of first semester is common, but I suggest you look carefully at what's causing your burnout to try to prevent it and make a change to improve things next semester.

Ask yourself what is causing the burnout. What's the biggest change from high school you think might be contributing to it? Is it the temptations to put off work until the last minute because of a constant social life around you and no curfews? Is it a heavier course load or harder classes? Were you managing your stress in high school with regular exercise, sports or other hobbies that gave you a creative outlet that's now missing in your life? Are you eating in a way that's giving you sufficient nutrition for your busy schedule? What's going on in your social life? Are your friends, roommate and any romantic interests supportive and caring, or is there a good deal of drama and stress in that area of your life?

As the expert above mentioned, there is help and support for all these issues. Consider talking to a teacher, your advisor, a TA or tutor, your RA, someone at health services (including a counselor), an older student, or your parents.

College is a time for so many firsts, but it's really the first time you are setting your priorities all on your own about every part of your life. By taking a look at every aspect, from your classes, your diet, sleep habits, social life, outlets for stress relief, etc., you can learn how to adjust and take care of yourself first, and arrange your priorities in a way to avoid burnout.

Robyn Scott, Educational Consultant, TutorNerds LLC

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Burnout is very common this time of year. Students who have prepared good study habits are probably just plain tired and students who didn't start out with good study habits are likely exhausted. There are a few things that can be implemented to finish the year strong.

1) Plan ahead 2) Get help where needed 3) Determine what is unnecessary 4) Sleep! 5) Create a 'constant'

The first thing I would recommend is to plan ahead. Take a look at what you have going on from now until June. Don't let that March assignment wait until spring, get started a couple of weeks ahead. Also, know that it's okay to get help. Talk with your teacher during the free hour, ask for study pointers from an A student, or work with a tutor if you need one-on-one help. I would also suggest thinking about what isn't necessary at this point in the year. How overloaded is your schedule? Spring testing will only add to your stress levels so think about what can be reduced or eliminated within your list of obligations. One thing you should keep on your schedule, however, is sleep. Teens need at least eight hours to function properly. Lastly, create a constant, something that you enjoy doing and can do every week. Maybe it's running the track or having coffee with friends. Pick something that will give you enjoyment and keep your spirits up throughout the remainder of the school year.

Good luck and I hope that helps!

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