Tips to combat spring slump as the semester ramps up

Illustration by Sydney Smith

Earlier in the semester you felt like you were treading water when it came to balancing work and school, but now it feels like you’re barely staying afloat. Winter blues are slowly fading as we have more and more sunny days, but the lack of motivation is still lingering. 

But why? For one thing, your energy may be misplaced or out of balance. Maybe you have the life force to sit outside and have a coffee with a friend, but that six-page paper seems like an unconquerable feat. 

Why not do both? Find a study buddy and enjoy the spring weather while getting some major homework done (with chatting breaks of course too). This way you’re honoring your brain’s natural instinct to enjoy the warmer weather while also staying on top of your work. 

This is a great time of year to reevaluate your responsibilities. Even if you’re incredibly organized and planned out all your assignments at the start of the semester … that was still over a month ago. Refreshing your organization or even making a Google Doc separate from your calendar where you can see your major assignments laid out can be an incredibly helpful tool for combating procrastination or feeling overwhelmed. 

Going back to basics and scheduling your day-to-day is another tool that will ease the brain fog coming out of a cold and gray winter. Creating a to-do list and being able to check off tasks throughout the day not only helps you stay on track, it actually produces dopamine in your brain. 

It’s a great time of year to take advantage of Boise’s beautiful nature by going on hikes or runs on the greenbelt. Studies show that spending time outside decreases stress and improves mental health. Working in exercise every day not only promotes health but allows you to work through stress and improve your immune system. 

Although the days are finally getting longer again and it may be tempting to stay up later, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is also crucial at this point in the semester. With the season change comes an increase in the likelihood of illness, due to your immune system being weakened by allergies. Couple that with a high stress level from midterms and you have the perfect cocktail for a spring cold. Prioritizing rest well ensures you finish strong this semester.  

Being realistic with your time is something many college students and young adults struggle with. It’s easy to say yes to things when you feel like the semester is close to being over and that you have one final push before the break. However, spreading yourself too thin now will cause premature burnout whereas pacing yourself and acknowledging pre-existing responsibilities will increase your productivity. 

Allie Hampton, a sophomore at Boise State majoring in interdisciplinary studies and an employee at the Academic Support Office at Boise State discussed why she thinks the spring slump feels so intense this year, as well as some ways to combat it.

“I think this semester is unique because of all the snow days we had at the beginning of the semester,” Hampton said. “It was super difficult to get into routine … I feel like midterms really crept up on me because I never felt like this semester started in the first place.”

Hampton highlighted the fact that spring break comes at an inopportune time in the semester for many students as it gives a false sense of the semester ending. 

“It feels like it should be close to the end, but it’s not,” Hampton said. “The weather starts getting better so people want to go outside to experience the nice Boise outdoors and then just get into this kind of disconnect with their academics.”

Hampton referenced herself and the team at the Academic Support Center as a resource for students feeling unmotivated. The center provides scheduled appointments and walk-in hours as well. 

“We also have drop-in hours where we can talk about this specific issue with students if they feel like they’re unmotivated,” Hampton said. “We can talk about ways to make yourself feel motivated or how to work when you feel unmotivated, and kind of have some personal solutions with them.”

As a Boise State student herself, Hampton brought up a tip that has helped her stay focused while studying. 

“General advice I love to give out is to have a specific study location, there are tons of resources on campus to use,” Hampton said. “The [study] rooms in the Albertsons Library or in the ILC or studying on campus because that really makes you feel like you can minimize distractions.”

Hampton also utilizes timers such as the website Pomodoro Method, a timer that designates time for work and time for breaks, in order to be realistic about productivity. 

“I get really nit-picky about things that I don’t need to be nit-picky about,” Hampton said. “If I say I have to get this done in as short an amount of time as possible, then I’d probably get the same product as if I had spent two and a half hours on it if I just didn’t care about the tiny details that nobody cares about.”

Sara Beck, a COBE senior majoring in business administration and peer advisor for the Department of Communication and the Department of Media, shared her experience with witnessing spring fatigue in students.

“Give yourself time,” Beck said. “Be strong when you can be strong and get it all done so that you can really fall back when you need to fall back. I think that’s probably the best method of just keeping everything together.”

Beck lastly spotlighted the Gender Equity Center as a great resource for students who are struggling.

“If you need like motivation or resources, or you’re just really feeling a type of depression or a type of way, the gender equity center is always a really good source,” Beck said. They have open conversations and open sources over there and they’re really good at getting you what you need when you need it.”

At the end of the day, the shift from winter into spring can feel exhausting for so many people. If it feels like you’re a little less on top of things than usual, you’re not alone. There are many ways to try and establish balance in your life and navigate this tricky time of year.

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