Burnout, and How We Can Combat It


Yesenia Ruiz, Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again. As we creep up on the end of the semester, and finals loom in sight, many are experiencing fatigue and feelings of being overwhelmed with work. Last year, students spent all of their time online, which destroyed many people’s work ethic and attention span. Now, it can feel like burnout is inevitable.

What exactly is burnout? Knowing exactly what burnout is can help us combat it. Burnout is when someone is in a high-stress situation for extended amounts of time, and as a result feels symptoms of exhaustion (emotionally and physically), no passion for their activity and general low mood levels, and feelings of struggling to continue with whatever activity is causing them stress. Burnout is prevalent in high schools, especially with the high school becoming increasingly harder with colleges becoming increasingly competitive. The National Center for Education Statistics finds that students are taking more classes, and more vigorous classes now than they did 30 years ago. This is not even taking into account the added pressures of a post virtual learning environment. Students are expected to know the curriculum from last year, while many were struggling to get by and not learning much last year. Students are not only jumping back into school but back into their normal routines. This includes clubs, activities, sports, and jobs. This sudden return has caused a quicker and more intense burnout for many students. Students are having a harder time focusing on their classes, keeping up with their homework, and finding joy in school than they used to. Many students are feeling extremely overwhelmed with school and in desperate need of a break. These are all symptoms of burnout. 

But how do we combat it? 

Combating burnout can be tricky, and there is no one right way to do it. The overall key to overcoming burnout is to find joy in the things you do again. For high schoolers, this can look like joining a club you have an interest in, and not just one you think will look good on a college transcript. It can also look like the reverse, and having to step down from a few extracurriculars until you have more time in your schedule. To combat burnout you must review the necessary things in your schedule compared to the unnecessary. Some things, like school, will be necessary, but you can implement things into your school day that brings you joy. It is unique for every individual, and also must extend outside the school day. Take acts of self-care seriously! Another important thing to do is not be so hard on yourself when it comes to academics. You can work on time management with homework by setting a schedule in an assignment notebook to not feel like you are drowning in work. If it feels impossible to implement any of these tips into your life, and you feel it impossible to manage everything; reach out for help. There are counselors at the school who can help, and external resources are available. Persistent burnout is not good for mental health, and mental health should be your priority. Find someone who will take yours seriously, if that’ll be in person or online. Lastly, To combat burnout you also must know when to take a break. Illinois allows 5 mental health days a year, don’t be afraid to use them!

These all might seem impossible, but implementing small changes into your routines makes a world of difference. Try and implement them wherever you can, and help find the joy in school and activities again!