As we went through midterms this semester, many students expressed feelings of burnout. We could all feel how strange this semester has been. Many of our professors have been feeling out of it too.
It is fairly normal for there to be some burnout at this time of the year. Many students and professors expect it. And we have to keep in mind that COVID-19 is still around as an additional stressor, along with ongoing tensions having to do with administrative upheaval and the faculty contract situation.
In general, confidence is rapidly being lost in the administration. Of course, as students we would all like to believe NMU’s administration is not handling things poorly; we want to feel confident in our leadership, especially with regards to COVID-19.
On the part of faculty, the NMU-American Association of University Professors completed a vote of no confidence on Friday Oct. 15. This served to make official the feeling that has been felt around campus. The chaos is tangible, not simply on the level of students noticing their professors are stressed.
We’ve still got quite a ways to go, and many of us are questioning how to manage it.
Our advice at the North Wind is to take time for yourself in order to feel grounded. A great deal of what’s happening around us at the moment is things we can’t control. Viruses don’t listen to reason. The situation on campus can’t be controlled by a single student. So focus on the things you can control to foster a sense of wellbeing.
This may mean treating yourself to a piece of fruit in the morning, or going for a walk. It might mean putting more effort into your personal appearance, or working on a creative project. It may be practicing a hobby. Any choice you can make to improve your temporary quality of life.
If you’re able, reduce the amount of stressors in your life. This may mean saying “no” to some of your extracurricular commitments. It may mean taking some time to communicate boundaries, or even just venting to friends and offering a space for others to feel heard as well. This is not a normal time, so it’s important to talk about your experience and validate each other within your small community.
Some days, we all wake up for classes and wonder why we’re still trying. On those days, the best you might be able to do is just roll into class and be there. Show up imperfectly if you have to, but do show up.
Sometimes, with the amount of responsibilities that pile up on students, people have to prioritize school work over their mental health, their job, or other pieces of their lives. It can be tough to know what to sacrifice, and the choice is different for everyone. Remember that professors are often good about talking through personal situations with students and making allowances or extensions when necessary. Don’t be afraid to talk to your profs about the hard stuff; even though they are also going through difficult times right now, they’re very conscious of students.
And finally, remember that this strange semester will pass. Soon, morale will rally, increasing motivation and improving feelings on campus.