How to Avoid Mid-Semester Burnout

Stressed? Overwhelmed? You’re not alone.


Mental exhaustion and burnout are common for most college students as semesters carry on and workload begins to pile on.

Psychologist Amber Sylvan, Ph.D. wrote in a 2018 article that college students experience good stress and unhelpful stress. Good stress comes from pleasurable activity, such as a sport, trying something new, or being creative according to Sylvan.

“Unhelpful stress, however, happens when you have a chronic feeling of being overwhelmed, oppressed, and behind,” Sylvan states in the article.

Sylvan explains there are four signs that you are overwhelmed or experiencing burnout. physical symptoms, which can lead to a weakened immune system and things like high blood pressure. Mental/emotional symptoms such as anxiousness, irritability, and nervousness, along with social symptoms and unhealthy coping, like overeating or overuse of alcohol or other drugs is another sign.

Breaking the impending burnout feeling can be difficult as you feel a lack of motivation leading to a reduction in accomplishment which can be hard to dig yourself out of. Most universities offer tools to avoid and combat this.

Glenn Miehls, the director of advising at the University of Findlay has much experience in helping students with the sense of burnout and has found that there are different reasons for this.

“They are involved in more groups and activities, the amount of work and the level of the work is at a higher level than when the student is used to from high school,” Miehls said. “This can result in a feeling that there is no time for fun, only for the student’s academics and studies which can lead to a student feeling burnt out.”

Playing a sport is a great example of the extra involvement alongside work that Miehls describes. With more than 600 student-athletes at the University of Findlay, some find that this adds to the feeling of burnout.

Lauren Clark, a sophomore at UF studying exercise science, works on campus and plays on the women’s soccer team.

“I feel like I can never get a mental break with so much on my plate,” Clark said. “Having a social life on top of school, soccer, and work is so exhausting. There is never a day where I don’t have homework.”

Miehls suggests finding a balance with planning and utilizing the university calendar as well as resources on campus.

“You can stop into the Oiler Success Center and meet with one of our staff or a faculty coach to discuss the issues that are causing you difficulty,” Miehls said. “We will also look at what classes may be giving you more stress in your schedule and what you can do to alleviate some of that stress.”

With the different opportunities the university offers to create your success, Fiona Hanks, assistant athletic director for sports medicine, has ideas from her experience.

“I teach a class at the success center and I am familiar with the success center and I know that they offer a lot of academic support to help students succeed,” Hanks said. “Mid-semester burnout can happen because you see the light at the end of the tunnel for the semester and focus on things with less importance.”

Being familiar also gives Hanks better insight on things she believes truly help students when burnout strikes.

“I think tutoring is a hugely underused thing that is offered by universities,” Hanks said. “I don’t know if they are too proud to use it, but most students that I push into tutoring are so glad that they did it because they realize they wouldn’t have succeeded otherwise. Learning from someone other than your professor if you’re struggling can be important.”

Hanks says cramming will only worsen this. Making small goals for yourself and not attempting to fix everything at once will make it easier to achieve what you need to.