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The Antelope

The Antelope

Burnout – What is it and how to manage it mid-semester

We just hit the point of the semester that everyone dreads: midterms. 

Many students are tired, busy, mentally drained, and frankly, just ready to be done. This point always brings less participation and enthusiasm in classes and meetings as students feel they are running on empty. 

The reason so many students struggle with this is not due to laziness or apathy. 

It’s burnout. 

According to HelpGuide, burnout is emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by significant or prolonged stress. Burnout can cause loss in motivation and excitement, and it can impact a person’s social, home and work life. It also makes a person more vulnerable to illness, including the cold and the flu. This is especially worrisome in the midst of a pandemic.

When burnout hits, it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep up. 

Missing one discussion post quickly becomes three late assignments and two quizzes to make up. Taking even a few days off from classes can lead students down a slippery slope. The added stress may cause students to feel as though their only option is to skip class or stop submitting assignments completely. When this occurs, students often cope by using drugs and alcohol, which can have lasting effects on their physical and mental health.

It’s crucial to make time for self-care to avoid burnout. But when I say self-care, I don’t mean face masks and warm baths. Self-care is taking time for oneself away from daily routine. This could be going to a movie with friends, meditating, journaling, spending time alone in nature or reflecting on emotions. Any activity that allows the person to take a mental and physical break away from their current stressors acts as self-care. 

Many students may feel that they don’t have time for self-care. But in reality, self-care can be five minutes a day. Making time for self-care also saves time loss from lack of productivity. 

Mental health is more important than schoolwork, and taking adequate time for self-care ensures that burnout doesn’t occur. A student cannot perform adequately in their classes if they have not given themselves time to refresh. 

A four-day fall break should not be the only motivation to get through half of the semester. It is frustrating to see that this is still a prevalent problem every semester. 

Professors can have a huge impact in fighting burnout. Reaching out to students and offering support can go a long way. Some are better at hiding burnout than others. If students feel that they are supported and understood, they are more likely to be more productive in classes and hopefully avoid burnout. 

Signs that students may be close to burnout 

  • Caring about work or home life seems like a waste of time and energy.
  • Feeling that everyday is a bad day.
  • Feeling exhausted all the time.
  • Spending time on tasks that are boring or overwhelming.
  • Feeling as though everything you do is meaningless or not appreciated. 
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