MENTAL HEALTH CORNER: Getting to your finish line: A pep talk

By Julia Rhea, Southwest Mental Health Counselor

Midway through any difficult task, be it a race, a marathon, or studying – we tend to tire ourselves right before the finish line. Sometimes, you may forget why you committed yourself to the task. Or, the end result might become unclear and not worth the work and sacrifice. Experts call this goal fatigue. Goal fatigue is best described as the tiring “in-between period” where you’re almost to your goal, but it seems like it’s still so far away. When you are in school, this burnout often takes place in April.

For most students, April is considered the “in-between period” for several reasons:

  • Typically, there are 3-4 more weeks of the semester left to finish (if you’re in a fall-spring program).
  • It is the month when all the talk about finals might be stressful because it feels like you just finished taking midterm exams.
  • It is a time when dragging yourself out of bed to head to campus or check that online classwork seems more difficult by the day.

To combat goal fatigue, the Counseling Center would like to offer you some positive tips to keep in mind during those tough times in April.

  • You’re here! You’ve managed to maintain all these months. From January to now, you’ve focused on school and probably a multitude of other things and still want to finish strong. That says a lot about you! Pat yourself on the back for that.
  • It’s okay to be tired, to feel groggy, to be unsure. All of those things are okay. During those times, remember the goal you set for yourself. Keep in mind whatever promises you made to yourself in January before the semester started or in December when you pictured what you wanted your year to look like.
  • Take breaks! A lot of times when we’re burning ourselves out, it’s because we haven’t taken a break or planned something fun or relaxing to take our mind off of our tough times. Plan that study break where you switch gears from exercising your brain, to trying to do something fun and creative, like listening to music that always keeps you in an upbeat mood.  Reward yourself for getting this far!

Your semester is ending soon. In a few more weeks you’ll be able to return to the status quo of life, minus the academic strain, at least temporarily. You’ll have a chance to rejuvenate, to breathe, and to reflect. In the Counseling Center, we understand how tough and overwhelming academic stress can be. We are always here as a resource to students who feel they need assistance during emotionally and mentally challenging times.

If you are experiencing increased stress, anxiety or other feelings that can be negatively impacting your mental health, or know of anyone who feels this way, please contact the Counseling Center to schedule a time to come in and talk to me, Julia Rhea, Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Mental Health Counselor. I can be reached at (901) 333-5121 and jrhea@southwest.tn.edu.

Be well and good luck with finals!