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A Guide to Getting Through the Mid-Semester Slump

A Guide to Getting Through the Mid-Semester Slump

This time of year is when it usually starts to hit, the waves of exhaustion and uncertainty about finishing out your degree. You start asking yourself, “why did I ever go to grad school?” Yes, it is the middle of the semester and you are beginning to wonder what you have gotten yourself into. Stop, take a deep breath, and realize that everyone has asked themselves the very same questions. The article will offer some tips for getting through Fall 2020 alive by focusing on aspects of stress management and how students can take care of their mental health with a look at some of the resources offered by The New School. 

Mindfulness Practices

For many, the practice of mindfulness through meditation is an essential aspect of maintaining a clear head when life starts to get too hectic. Mindfulness Practice at The New School is a 30-minute private counseling session (via HIPAA-compliant Zoom) in which you develop mindfulness techniques to address problems and manage stress and anxiety. Sessions are adapted to your unique needs and experiences and offer an open and safe environment in which to ask questions and address difficulties in your practice. Appointments can be scheduled online through the Student Health Services Portal. Fall semester sessions will be offered beginning September 8, 2020. 

However, if solo meditation is more your speed, there are plenty of self-guided practices you can work through alone. Aside from traditional meditation, walking meditation is a helpful form of clearing your mind, better suited for those who find it hard to sit still for extended periods of time. The meditation requires that you walk 10-15 paces, take a deep breath, walk 10-15 paces back in the opposite direction, and repeat. This can be done inside or outside as a way to take advantage of the changing weather and a chance to get away from your screen. 

There are plenty of methods to integrate your mental health and wellness practices into how you interface with your digital devices. There are a myriad of mindfulness apps which offer guided meditation in a variety of forms such as Aura, Headspace, and Calm. Spotify even offers a Daily Wellness playlist for those who listen to music while they work, placing mandated guided mediation and breaks in the listening for the user to take time for themselves.

Managing Stress and Workload

Study Groups

The only thing worse than dealing with a challenging course, is dealing with a challenging course alone. Forming a study group can be a great way to not only help you get the grade you need, but also help strengthen your social networks (even while physically distancing). Academic success is important of course, but sharing a group with classmates can also help build a space for venting, socializing, and talking through the stresses of the day. Working with others and realizing that you are not alone goes a long way in the journey to get your degree. 

Taking Time for Yourself

The idea of self care is incredibly useful because it emphasises time spent focusing on yourself and your own needs. As a graduate student it is very easy to become lost in your work, missing out on meals and much needed sleep. While doing so might give you more time to work, it catches up to you soon enough and begins to have a detrimental effect on your ability to focus and produce work you are proud of. While the idea of taking some time to yourself every week may seem challenging, especially for those of us who have to both work and study, it will ultimately benefit your productivity in the long run. Personally, I like to pick an afternoon or night once a week when my computer must be turned off. Those select hours I will spend on a hobby, meeting up (safely) with friends, reading (for fun), walking around the city or whatever I am in the mood for. The only rule is that the activity I pick must serve no immediate purpose besides being fun and for my own relaxation. 

Mental Health Services at The New School

For students suffering from severe stress and in need of someone to talk to,The New School offers a variety of resources. 

Group Counseling

Group is a great way for students to create community, meet other students, reduce isolation, and get support. It’s completely confidential. No judgment—just sharing and connection. Please email or speak to your counselor to find what groups are being offered.

Individual Counseling 

All counseling sessions are being offered online via HIPAA-compliant Zoom meetings during the Fall 2020 semester. We offer short-term flexible counseling and supportive services, provided by our counselors. You can schedule your first session by emailing or through the Student Health Services Portal

Written and Curated by Daniel Pemberton

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