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FROSH 2023: Facing burnout and academic stress

By Francesca Schoettler, September 5 2023—

The Ac•a•dem•ic Tsu•na•mi n. An overwhelming period that begins the third week of term and continues right up until your last final. Within this notable interval, you will witness the unfortunate disappearance of spare time and the sudden emergence of an entire species of library-dwelling scholars. Alternative names include the Academic Avalanche, the Term Tornado, and the Semester Siege.

Symptoms: sleep deprivation, heightened cravings for comfort food and the uncanny ability to craft elaborate procrastination strategies while convincing oneself that they’re still being productive.

Cure: there is currently no one-size-fits-all solution to this particular stressor but sheer determination and the occasional mental breakdown goes a long way. 

Warning: May lead to burnout. Seek support from loved ones and take some time to evaluate what you need personally (not what you need academically).

I never met a single person throughout my entire undergraduate degree who hadn’t faced burnout or experienced university-related stress of some sort. University is overwhelming so it is completely normal (and very common) for you to feel swamped, exhausted and even irritated at times.  It’s natural to feel trapped and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that you need to complete. However, despite the challenging nature of this experience, you will emerge stronger on the other side. Each semester is an opportunity for you to grow (both professionally and personally), explore what works best for you and adapt based on what hasn’t worked well in the past. Being buried under a mountain of work, deadlines and expectations is a relatable experience for most university students. Talking to your peers may help you find solace in the fact that you aren’t alone in your struggles — I know that certainly helped me.

The most important thing that I learned when I was in university was to put myself first, and ironically, I didn’t figure that out until I was already in my fourth year. Between the barrage of assignments, exams, projects and deadlines, it can feel sometimes impossible to prioritize yourself and what you need. Please trust me when I say that it’s worth it, that you are worth it.

So make time to do the things that you like with the people you love, say yes to the occasional outing and no to the party that you’d honestly rather just miss out on. Buy yourself that $7 latte that you probably don’t need and don’t feel guilty about treating yourself every once in a while. You are worth the effort and you will make it through — the light at the end of the tunnel will come, it always does.

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