I’m not a big coffee drinker but even when I do indulge in the occasional Peppermint Mocha, it does not alleviate the mental, emotional and physical fatigue. I rarely ever dread coming to work. Quite the opposite actually as I love my job and usually look forward to a new day. However, lately, as soon as I plop myself in my office chair, I just feel exhausted. And I think I know why.
My students are wearing me out
I have to laugh at this one because it sounds ridiculous but is so true. At this point in the semester, I’m meeting with my straggler students (i.e. the ones that I haven’t met with all semester who waited until the last minute to come see me). This means that I have to spend 30 minutes updating them on a whole semester’s worth of information. And before you ask, I do send out emails on a monthly basis with updates but whether or not they read them is a different story. This results in back-to-back meetings during which I’m the primary one talking and boy am I tired after. You’d think I had just run a 5k!
There’s too much work but not enough
For all my procrastinators out there, you know what I mean by this. You have work to do but you’re tired and so you try and put it off by doing something else – only, there is nothing else but this task. So then, you end up staring at your computer screen and lamenting how bored but stressed you are. For me, it’s our semesterly retention chase. I have to call students who have not registered for classes and ask them if they will be returning in the spring. And in true millennial fashion, I hate talking on the phone. There’s always this awkward talking-over-each other-because-we-don’t-have-visual-cues thing happening and ya girl is not here for it! Except this is what I get paid to do, so after days of putting it off, I muster up all my strength and energy. Afterwards, I could really use a nap.
The days are short
Tis the season when it gets dark by 5pm, which means that by the time I get home and walk the dog, I’m ready to go to sleep. Seasonal Affective Disorder is no joke and I am feeling the effects of it now more than ever. When friends ask me to grab a drink after work, I really have to think hard about whether or not I have the energy for it. A lot of the times I don’t, which means that I am also less social which just adds to the overall fatigue.
Too many holiday parties
Since the week before Thanksgiving, I have been to two potlucks, one cookie exchange, two team lunches and one unit wide end of semester celebration. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love holiday parties. One rule I have is to never turn down free food. However, I end up eating way too much. I have literally eaten my weight in sugar, carbs and fat this season and I don’t know how much more my body can take!
So how can we make it through the rest of the semester? Well, here are some ways I have combatted the end-of-semester slumps.
Check in with yourself
As higher ed professionals, we spend most of our days checking in with our students. However, we can’t forget to check in with ourselves. Take a step back from your computer screen and ask yourself how you’re doing. Maybe you could use a cup of coffee or tea. Perhaps a walk around the building to get some fresh air and stretch your legs. It’s so important to practice self care just like we constantly tell our students to! And I know from personal experiences that taking your own advice can be a challenge but we can only serve our students to successfully if we are well rested.
Divide and conquer
If your end of semester includes a lot of unfinished tasks – or one big one like the retention chase that I have to do – that must get done before you leave for winter break, the best plan of action that I have found to be fruitful is to break them up into manageable chunks. That way, it feels much less daunting. Even if your manageable chunks are broken up by just a quick walk to get coffee – just that 10 minute break will alleviate some of the monotony.
Connect with others
I tend to get a little bit of cabin fever if I just sit in my office by myself all day. I like to get up and visit some of my colleagues to, not just get a break for myself, but also to check in with them. Most of the time, they are feeling much like I am when it comes to our level of stress and so taking the time just to shoot the breeze for a few minutes can be very refreshing. Those sugar-heavy holiday parties serve this purpose really well too!
How are you feeling as the semester comes to a close? Are you tired like me? If so, how do you pump yourself up to get through the last few weeks of fall? Share your thoughts in the comments!