Staying Motivated Toward the End of Winter Semester

End your year strong!

By Sarika Waikar March 26, 2024
Staying Motivated Toward the End of Winter Semester

As winter semester winds down and summer approaches, it's easy to feel the weight of exhaustion settling in. Many of us find ourselves grappling with a familiar foe: burnout. While we’re often constantly in a cycle of trying to escape burnout, it’s critical to acknowledge that it’s a widespread, common feeling that you’re not alone in. However, with a few strategic adjustments and a renewed focus, you can power through the remaining weeks and finish the semester strong. Here's how.

Acknowledging That Burnout Is Real

The demands of coursework, extracurricular activities, and personal obligations can take a heavy toll on students, leading to feelings of burnout. Recognizing the signs of burnout, such as fatigue, lack of motivation, and reduced productivity, is the first step toward addressing it.  Ignoring these signals can sometimes end up exacerbating the problem and making it even harder to persist. By understanding the importance of mental health and well-being, students can take proactive steps to counteract burnout and stay strong as we head into finals season.

Setting Goals

Goal-setting is a powerful tool for maintaining motivation and focus, especially during the final stretch of winter semester. Start by identifying what you want to achieve academically, personally, and/or professionally by the end of the semester. Whether it's earning a certain GPA, landing an internship, or mastering a new skill, setting specific, measurable goals gives you a roadmap to success. 

Break down larger goals into smaller, actionable steps and create a timeline to hold yourself accountable, while not being too strict on yourself. I find that writing these out by hand in fun colors feels more meaningful and personal. Make sure to celebrate your progress along the way, no matter how small, and adjust your goals as needed based on your evolving priorities and circumstances. By setting clear objectives and tracking your progress, you can stay energized to accomplish your goals by the end of the semester.

Making the Most of Your Time in Ann Arbor

Depending on where you’re from, the end of winter semester may mark your goodbye to Ann Arbor for a stretch of time. Even though exams are looming, treat yourself to study breaks exploring and walking around Ann Arbor. Being physically here offers a plethora of opportunities for us to engage in enriching experiences beyond the classroom. Take advantage of the vibrant campus community by attending events, workshops, and cultural events that align with your interests and passions, whether it’s solo or having a friend tag along with you!

As the weather warms up, spend time outside by visiting local parks, gardens, and scenic spots around campus. Whether it's taking a stroll through The Arb or enjoying a picnic by the Huron River, spending time outdoors can inspire productivity and keep you feeling your best. By immersing yourself in our dynamic campus, you can forge meaningful connections to Ann Arbor and cultivate a sense of belonging that fuels your motivation to succeed.

Prioritizing Self-care

In the midst of increased academic demands and extracurricular commitments, it's easy to neglect self-care. However, prioritizing your physical, emotional, and mental well-being is vital for sustaining resilience. Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine by scheduling time for activities that replenish your energy. For example, practicing yoga, catching up with old friends, or indulging in your favorite hobbies. Find activities that help you unwind and recharge. 

Additionally, prioritize healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious and filling meals, and staying hydrated (bring your water bottle everywhere) to support your overall wellness. Don't hesitate to reach out for support from friends, family, or campus resources if you're feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope with stress, because again, burnout is a nearly universal experience.

In Closing 

Through and through, it’s key to remember that you're not alone in this struggle. Acknowledging burnout and also not being ashamed of it is the first step towards overcoming it. By setting achievable goals, optimizing your time in Ann Arbor, and centering self-care, you can navigate the remaining weeks with newfound energy and proudly finish the semester. So embrace these simple strategies, stay resilient (as all Wolverines are!), and remember that you have the power to overcome burnout and reach your goals. Here's to finishing the semester on a high note!

S. Waikar
Sarika Waikar

Sarika Waikar is a current junior pursuing a major in communication and media with minors in entrepreneurship and environment. She is from Evanston, IL (just north of Chicago!) and interned this past summer at 1871, a startup incubator in the city. At U-M, she's the logistics co-coordinator for the South Asian Awareness Network, a research assistant for the Department of Communication and Media, a teacher's assistant at Towsley Children House, and heavily involved in her entrepreneurship fraternity, SEPi. She loves travel adventures, exploring Ann Arbor, cooking new dishes, and hanging out with friends!