How to Fight the End of Semester Burnout: The Importance of Being Still

At this time of year, for those of us who are still in school, it seems there’s an ever prevalent sentiment of burnout. Call it senioritis or what you may, the warming weather hinting at summer only enhances the desire to do absolutely nothing. The dominating thought seems to be, “How low can I score on this final to keep my grade ”

I believe this feeling has a lot to do with the longevity of the semester, but also the juggling game that students are required to play in order to maintain grades and appear ‘distinguished’ in high school and university. We have to learn a bit of everything AND do a bit of everything. In high school, almost everyone I knew was taking at least 3 AP classes, played a sport, was either in drama, music or an academic club, and held a position in Key Club, National Honor Society, or California Scholarship Federation. This is the norm, the status quo.

With social media, it’s easy to feel like everyone else is doing a lot more than you are. It gives the very believable illusion that you are falling behind your peers.There isn’t anything inherently wrong with keeping busy and being a go-getter. I think I understand the value of doing a lot, I have a high achieving personality,and I am very aware of its pros and cons. On one hand, it allows me to get a lot done. Take 16 units, work, have a social life, pursue whatever suits my fancy. On the other hand, I am constantly exhausted because the to-do list is neverending, and always increasing due to my own personal volition.

I often think to myself, “Man, I need a break” , and then continue to schedule 15 things for the weekend. I scour Craigslist and Facebook for fun events, spent time on Instagram collecting new dessert places to eat at, and to what end?

I am busy, but I am happy and exhausted.

Lots of things make me anxious. Having too much to do makes me anxious. Not having enough to do makes me restless as well. By other people’s standards, I have no reason to be anxious, but as I watch my grades waver between 98% and 93% I can’t help but feel a little nervous. It’s an irrational nervousness, as I know that more than likely I will study enough and be fine, but the uncertainty is enough to derail any sure feeling of grade security. In addition, doing so much gives me little breathing space for when things go wrong. When I lose my TAP card, or forget an assignment at home, it RUINS my day. I think, “God how could I mess up so bad? SO stupid!! ”. I know everyone makes mistakes, and I know that I’m holding myself to this standard of perfection that no human can achieve. It takes me literally a half an hour of self-reassurance and internal crying.

But this is because I don’t give myself space. I think this goes for many other people as well. With all the hustle and bustle going on in our lives, we don’t take enough time to just sit and do nothing; to be without our phones, to let silence overtake and just be still.

I know this isn’t just me.

Over the last month, I’ve watched class attendance drop steadily. People leisurely drift in and out of the classroom. My friends that I’ve talked to all carry this exhaustion of doing too much, and trying to carry it all. We work part time (or full time jobs) along with managing family, education and personal relationships.

And the teachers, dear Lord help the teachers. My fashion teachers are exhausted. Between hosting events at school, managing student quiz and test make ups, and taking care of their personal lives, my teachers look like they’re being run to the ground. We push and push and push, and encourage each other to stick to the grind and hustle hard, but are much more reluctant to suggest that someone just let go of some responsibilities, or do less than they are already doing.

It’s important to learn to take small breaks daily, to be balance, and to help each other.

Much easier said than done of course, but if we don’t start thinking about it now, will we ever find time to think about it?

These are some of my best ways to fight this sense of burnout:

1. Talk to A Friend

Some of my greatest pleasures in life are my relationships, and talking to the ones I love always give me a sense of relief. It brings a lightness to my day and refreshed my mind and spirit.

2. Exercise

Exercise forces you to get out of whatever mood or state you're in, and engage your body. Engage the body, engage the mind.

3. Read A Book and Take A Shower

After a shower, reading helps me relax and dive into another world of fantasy, intellectualism, history, etc.

4. Cook

I find cooking surprisingly relaxing because it's a little bit hard to multi-task and cook. I can talk to someone or listen to podcast while I cook, but largely I am focused on the task at hand and am not worried about my to do lists.

How do you find time to relax and unwind ? I’d love to know.