Surviving Mid-Semester Burnout – Kayara Doing Things

Picture this: We’re halfway through the semester, and all the traveling, studying, and writing you’ve done in the past two months is catching up with you. You are exhausted, but the world is not waiting for you to recover. Homework is still due, exams are scheduled, and trips are planned (and, most importantly, paid for).

You’re overwhelmed and sad and homesick, but you try not to feel bad because you’re thinking, what right have you got to be unhappy? This must be then difficult to take interesting courses and hang out with your friends in a beautiful European city. Not to mention traveling to places you never dreamed of being able to see. You should put a smile on your face and be grateful.

For the past few days, this is how I feel. I stayed in my room under the covers and avoided my homework and my friends because all of a sudden it was incredibly overwhelming to study abroad. I didn’t know how to express my feelings without looking ungrateful for having such great opportunities. I also had this silly idea in my head that I was the only person feeling overwhelmed and a little melancholy, although I can now say that I recognize that I am not the first person and that I will not be the last to feel this.

I admit that my use of the past tense is a bit misleading – I’m still in the throes of overwhelm and, to be honest, mild panic. As a senior who would have loved to have graduated like yesterday, attending class and doing homework is becoming more and more unbearable with each passing day. It’s an interesting situation, though, because school is what got me here, and what keeps me here, so I’m both indebted to it and tormented by it (that’s life).

Anyway, I wanted to write this post for people who feel the same. Mid-semester burnout is real, and it sucks. Time is relentless and refuses to stop for anyone, and so the only way out is to pass. I thought of a few things that I tried to make this feeling a little more bearable. I thought I’d share them with you, in case you’re interested.

1. Go to bed!

I cannot stress this enough. It’s so tempting to stay up until the sun comes up, hang out with friends, watch Netflix or fly back to Copenhagen after a spontaneous weekend, but I SAY IT TO YOU: go to bed and rest yourself well for 8 hours. I can’t even begin to count all the times I’ve shown up to class with about two hours of sleep, having thought the night before that those miserable hours would cut it down. Spoiler alert: they won’t. Even if you only get a little sleep, I promise you could feel a whole lot better just closing your eyes. Your body will thank you kindly, as will your participation grade when you’re less of a zombie in class.

2. Feed yourself!

This is another important point. Especially for those of us who live in Kollegiums who have to cook all of our own meals, giving your body the proper nutrients is fundamental to not feeling hungry or in a bad mood. There’s so much research that suggests improving your diet will actually improve your mood, and I’ll say I’m a much happier camper when my stomach isn’t growling. It’s easier said than done, especially if you have little or no cooking skills like me. In this department I would say pinterest is your friend. I linked the search results for “healthy dinner recipes” and like 900 results came up. When you have a minute, scroll down and save a few to your phone. Then go to Netto or Føtex with your Purchasing cardcollect the ingredients and hit the kitchen.

In my apartment, we often take turns cooking meals for each other (I mostly make my weight by being a sous chef or doing the cleaning). It helps to work with your roommates or friends if you can to be more motivated. Here are some of the meals we prepared throughout the semester:

Mac and cheese baked in the oven.

Cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, chickpeas (and a few seasonings I can’t remember.)

Baked asparagus, which accompanied our mix of cherry tomatoes/chickpeas/feta cheese.

Garnished with potatoes, carrots, salmon and lemon.

Self-care!

It’s also a big one. It’s so important to take the time to do things that make you feel good in between all the hustle and bustle of studying abroad. Take a nice shower, watch your favorite show, treat yourself to that delicious pastry in the bakery window display you’ve always wanted to walk into, or whatever else you wish. Self-care can involve splurging on yourself, or it can be free. Whatever you are capable of doing, just make sure it puts a smile on your face and brings a little ease. There are loads of yoga videos on Youtube if you are interested, or guided meditations.

Sleeping and eating well are also forms of self-care, so if you work on the other two tips, you’re already well on your way to taking care of yourself and giving yourself much-needed attention and love. You’re worth it!

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I’ll be honest with you: none of these suggestions are a direct solution to burnout or feeling overwhelmed, but I can say that they will at least help you make it a little more bearable as you go. and as you go through those difficult feelings. Know that you are not alone, that your feelings are valid, and keep breathing.

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