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Backing Up From Burnout

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Image courtesy of Healthline

It seems that burnout has hit students earlier than normal this year. Life has been more difficult and with that so has school. Online life has made students exhausted — COVID-19 and college don’t mix well. However, even though you may have prior commitments, you have a commitment to yourself and should take a moment to think about yourself during this time.

Burnout can be hard to detect sometimes. You may not realize how much everything is affecting you initially. Verywell Mind defines burnout as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.” Basically, when you are no longer paying attention or having a passion for what you are doing, you are experiencing burnout. Exhaustion can also be a symptom of burnout. Reduced action and even health concerns can be part of burnout as well. Stress can make you sick. All of these factors can be signs of burnout.

Burnout in college can happen at any point. There doesn’t necessarily have to be a pandemic for it to occur. The piling on of tasks can make you feel like you are drowning. Between classes, clubs and work, it can all be too much. Pay attention to how you are feeling during this time, because your mind and body will always tell you what you need to do. One way to deal with burnout during college is to learn to say “no.” This can be hard for so many, because we often don’t want to let others down and by saying “no” we feel like we are doing exactly that. However, anyone who is asking you for help would rather have you at your best than not. It is always acceptable to say “no.” Knowing your limits also helps you decide how much you can take on. Having a full load of classes and being in five clubs may not be the best option for your mental and physical health. Sleep is also crucial — chances are if you don’t know the topic eight hours before the exam, cramming it all in while being in a sleepless state won’t help your chances of learning it. Also, counseling services are always available. There are counselors ready to assist you and they are more than happy to help you succeed not just as a student but as a person.

Staying indoors for the majority of the time while hunched over a computer screen hasn’t been easy for students this year. Being on this schedule can make the days bleed together and can make students feel like they are in a mechanical loop. However, life is still going. Pressures are being added and it’s normal to admit that you are having a hard time. Life can lead to burnout. Disappointments of previously planned events can also lead to this. However, there are things you can do to help alleviate these stresses and feelings. One activity you can do is to go outside — you don’t even have to do physical activity for this one. Just simply sitting outside and taking a moment for yourself is important: it’s a change of scenery from your dorm room, apartment or house. Focusing on your favorite indoor activities can help too. If it doesn’t add stress, you could learn a new hobby that you don’t feel that you have an obligation toward and that can just be for fun. Also, keeping “in touch” with your friends and family is important. Having a connection with those you care about will help, even though you may not be able to see them in person right now. Knowing that others want you to be well mentally and physically may help you reflect on what remedy is best for your burnout.

You matter, and your sanity and health are more important than anything. It is not selfish to give yourself a moment and to do what is best for you. Yes, it is great to help others, but not at the expense of your health. It is normal to not feel happy and energized every day. The people that support you would rather have you at your best than drained and in pain. Learning to say no and to take the time that you need are difficult skills, but some that students all need to practice. It is good to take a day off once in a while. You owe that to yourself. College or not, and even pandemic or not, you deserve the right to your health and time.

By Kaylee Haas, Staff Writer


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