Ricci Jilliane Faelnar ||
I lie awake tonight. My hands are tightly folded on my stomach as I stare at the darkened ceiling. In an attempt to distract myself, I try to make out the silhouettes of the unopened light bulb, the strange black line stretched above, and the edges where the walls meet. My thoughts are pounding at the back of my head, troubling me about all the things needed to be done.
Burned through the ceiling above me is an endless list. I can feel it glaring at me, shaping into the taunting eyes of a lurking demon. My skin crawls as they morph into pallid faces and into the room float choirs of self-doubt and ticking time. I am haunted by the portal of endless papers, assessments, and projects. My sunken spirit is suffocated from the weekly avalanche of heavy load requirements.
It’s been months of this mental congestion. Schoolwork goes on and on and never seems to end. Every day feels the same; we hunch over our laptops, chasing deadlines, and working over weekends. We tick off a finished requirement but add five new ones. Tick, add. Tick, add. It’s a tiring cycle.
It doesn’t take much for us to lose our energy and motivation for school. I’ve had my fair share of study slumps that took me days to get out of. Here are a couple of reminders that helped me dig myself out of productivity ruts and demotivation:
- Fix your sleeping schedule.
Online class allows us to stay up later than usual because school days have much less structure. I am guilty of staying up as late as 4 AM, messing up my internal clock. To avoid this problem, set a fixed wake-up time that is non-negotiable. It’s easier said than done but please prioritize getting sufficient sleep every day.
- Go outside.
No, I don’t mean you should break quarantine protocol. Just open your door and hang out in the sunlight and fresh air. Spending a minimum of 30 minutes outdoors can drastically improve your mood. Getting some sun increases your serotonin —reducing your stress, anxiety, and increasing mental clarity. Have a change in your scenery, read in the sun, and gaze at the green around you. Remind yourself that there is life outside school. Find a spot and enjoy some quiet reflective time.
- Ask for help.
As I comb through the countless Messenger group chats that have been created for online classes, I have learned that I’m not alone in this scuffle. Find accountability buddies that motivate you and help you gauge difficult topics. I tried calling my friends while studying and it made the session lighter and more bearable.
Sometimes the reason for not feeling like studying is the perceived difficulty. If the subject is too difficult, we avoid studying. Get friends to study with you in such cases. They’re always there for you, seek them out.
4. Look after yourself.
There have been days when I felt burnt out and I punished myself for it. I went through days without eating because I felt like I didn’t deserve it. Don’t do this to yourself. You are human —not a robot. Make sure you are taking care of yourself, physically and mentally.
• Eat well and exercise regularly: Just, please.
• Take a break from social media: This is a sign that you should take one now. Social media provides 24/7 stress and negativity from the news and current events. It’s okay to get overwhelmed by reoccurring societal issues, such as climate disasters, political protests, and of course, the pandemic. Uninstall every application and take your overdue detox.
• Make plans to look forward to: Reward yourself for all the draining tasks you’ve done.
Even during your study session, you should take short breaks to refresh your brain. Don’t immerse yourself in games, social media, or Netflix, it will tire you out. Your short break will elongate from minutes to hours. Online education has mandatory hours and hours of screen time, get away from that vortex of screen time, and truly rest by doing activities that are based in the physical world, rather than the digital world. Avoid all screens in your break time.
- Get up.
If you’re going through a bit of a rut right now, process your feelings. Figure out if you just can’t be bothered to study or if you’re really burned out. The next morning, shock yourself. Change one big thing to get things going. Show up for yourself and remove all mental resistance and doubt. Do you need to write another essay? Start by opening the document and writing whatever comes to mind for a whole minute. Once you start writing, you will want to finish it. Just take a step and the rest will follow suit.
Get up! Dig yourself out of that slump.
We’ll get through this, just stick to the reset routine. Take it week by week, night by night. Remind yourself that things will seem much better in the morning light.
A Letter from the Editor
If you feel like academic stress is heavily affecting your mental health, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Guidance Office. Click here to contact our councilors,