College Burnout is Hitting Hard

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Every semester, students seem to reach a point of extreme fatigue and exhaustion known as burnout. And this year, with spring break removed from our schedules, it is hitting Penn State students especially hard.

While life as a college student comes with regular stressors: heavy course loads, part-time jobs, extracurriculars, applying for internships and jobs and balancing a social life, burnout is more severe than just feeling stressed.

College burnout is considered to be an extended period of time where the extreme fatigue from intense stress begins to effect other aspects of your life aside from academics. There is no definitive breaking point for those suffering from burnout, rather they continue to push themselves through the exhaustion, continuing to deplete whatever energy and motivation they have left. People struggling with burnout can suffer from depression, loss in appetite, immune system issues and loss in interest in activities that they used to enjoy.

Most students begin to experience burnout about halfway through an academic semester after almost two months of consistent classes. This is where spring break would come in and save the day. While only one week off may seem arbitrary, the days and weeks leading up to the it also play a role in curbing the college burnout. When a student is reaching that point of extended exhaustion, the sheer idea of their upcoming spring break can help motivate them. Unfortunately, that break didn’t happen for most college students this year.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the vast majority of colleges and universities opted to cancel spring break to reduce the risk of student’s traveling, contracting COVID-19 and then returning to campus. In lieu of that, Penn State, along with schools like University of Wisconsin, Ohio State and Syracuse introduced “wellness days” to give students a break. Many schools opted to place wellness days mid-week to discourage people from taking long weekends to travel. However, the “wellness days” prove to be not effective.

“I’d say the majority of students use their wellness days to either catch up on work or day drink,” junior Sophia Curran said. “A random Wednesday off doesn’t allow enough time to actually relax and recharge the way a spring break does. The burnout is so much worse this year and wellness days just don’t cut it.”

If you’re struggling with burnout this semester, you’re definitely not alone. Spending time outside, exercising and eating well and cutting back on alcohol can all lessen the severity of burnout. Listen to the signs your body is telling you and try to prioritize yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to seek help from a friend because they’ve likely felt the same way.

Tweet us your techniques for dealing with burnout, @VALLEYmag, on Twitter!

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