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Lifestyle Wellbeing

Act I : a-midsemester’s nightmare

The mid-semester slump is very apparent this semester; whether it is because time is now a social construct and appears to be changing pace every other day, or because there seems to be more work and subsequently less time to complete it in, I am not entirely sure. But the first of March arrived last week and I had to take a step back to everything; most noticeably, my mid-semester slump, lack of motivation to work, and (did I mention) lack of time?!

 In my mini reflection on the last couple of months, I highlighted a few potential things that could have been contributing to my mid-semester slump and I have been conscious to implement habits in hopes of improving the ‘what am I even doing?” and “what is even happening?” feelings.

 Firstly, I blame my mid-semester slump on TikTok. You might say that in order to have this issue, I should first blame myself for causing a certain app addiction. However, by this, I mean the consequences of TikTok, which has increasingly reduced my concentration span. A Forbes article recently titled the app ‘digital crack cocaine’; so whilst it was nice to know that I was not the only one feeling these side effects, it was also made for a rather alarming read.

However, the article was right; I find myself scrolling through TikTok at an alarming rate, immediately swiping if the video doesn’t capture me in the first 2 seconds. The article highlighted the bursts of dopamine that are created from watching a new video on TikTok, encouraging the brain to keep swiping to ensure the sustained dopamine rush,comparing the feeling to that of gambling.

Whilst it is interesting to read about how our brains are continuously being destroyed by the internet, it is not the exact focus of this article, so let me provide you with some tips that I have implemented to help reclaim your concentration span. Whilst the most clever thing would be to quit cold turkey, I don’t think I have that willpower yet so I have found limiting my usage of the app to maybe three/four times a week to be super beneficial. As difficult as this was at first, I have found that since doing this I have been able to curb the long stretches of time that seem to drain away.

If you are a TikTok user,  experiencing the same effects during deadline season and you really want to implement something strict into your routine to help, I would really recommend this small detox; whether you monitor that through an app like Forest or through your own willpower. I hope it can offer you some breathing room from your phone.

I also think hope and the possibility of summer plans is causing my mid-semester slump. After the recent announcement of the roadmap out of lockdown, my social media feeds have been flooded with summer outfits, festival tickets, holiday package deals, friends planning birthdays, trips and flights; the government offered us hope and a glimmer of light and we have leaped. I find myself itching to message friends and plan holidays, I spend time thinking about post-lockdown life, constantly searching for recent news and information to check that our hope hasn’t been taken away. I love how hopeful life currently feels, especially now that spring feels like it is in the air, but I am also worried about its consequences.

I think after a year of turbulence, it seems rather scary to hope for normality on the 21st of June. However, I have found journaling, writing these thoughts down, voicing them to a friend or family member to be incredibly helpful. I have been able to vent and work through my thoughts and then have a clear headspace to work efficiently. Simultaneously, I am a huge advocate for clearing your head through exercise and fresh air – my daily ‘walk-my-brain’ ritual is one of my favourite times of the day. Whether you distance yourself from the world or indulge in conversation, I hope that this can act as a reminder for you to take time for yourself.

 However, I have also learnt to revel in my mid-semester slump, to take time off and not push myself into doing work when I do not feel ready. Obviously this is increasingly difficult with university deadlines, but I am a huge believer in revelling in your feeling of “ugh” and watching what can come from it. I find you end up using this time for yourself: making a nice meal, going for a walk, facetiming a friend,or  reading a book.

 The mid-semester slump might be a big warning sign telling us to be kinder and more patient to ourselves, something that I hope we are all more aware of after the events of the past year. I hope that this article can not only be an act of solidarity but also a reminder to look after yourself, monitor your phone consumption for your own mental health, get some fresh air and stay hydrated – we’re all truly in this together.

Image: Prettysleepy via Pixabay