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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bucknell chapter.

My identity, as anyone’s, meets at the intersection of many different labels. I consider myself a woman, a Bucknell student, and a volleyball player. I am about to finish my junior season on the Bucknell Women’s Volleyball team, and I have begun to experience true burnout for the first time in my life. A sport that I have been playing for almost seven years now has taught me more life lessons than I know what to do with. It has shown me my voice, helped me develop leadership skills. It has been something that I truly and feverishly love. Everyday, since early August, I have been pushing myself physically and mentally to be the best that I can be. When I have my NCAA mandated off-days, I can’t help but lay in my bed all day long because I am not obligated to be moving. Most weeks, I am running to practice only to run out, still sweating, on my way to my night classes. And to be quite honest, I am someone that prides myself on my time management skills. The reason I bring this up is because so much of my time is spent focusing on the sport that I decided to pick up when I was 13 years old– and recently I think I am experiencing something that I have been dreading for a long time: I am burnt out. 

In the media, professional athletes talk about “burning out” all the time. CEO’s talk about it as well. Grad students, teachers, doctors– at every level, at every occupation, there is some level of wanting to be done. Leave it all, and take a break. This topic is completely normalized in our society today, a syndrome that continues to plague the lives of thousands or even millions of people every single day. But just because it is common, doesn’t mean we all know how to deal with it. 

When I googled “how to deal with burnout?”, Mayoclinic.org came up with numerous options: 

Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Maybe you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Try to set goals for what must get done and what can wait.

Seek support. Whether you reach out to coworkers, friends or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services.

Try a relaxing activity. Explore programs that can help with stress such as yoga, meditation or tai chi.

Get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress. It can also take your mind off work.

Get some sleep. Sleep restores well-being and helps protect your health.

Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. In a job setting, this practice involves facing situations with openness and patience, and without judgment.”

However, when I asked my teammates what they thought about this list, they laughed and commented on how they didn’t know how any of these things were feasible. So how do we help student-athletes  that spend 30+ hours a week playing a sport and taking classes continue to perform at the highest level? A real answer that could genuinely help athletes? Talk about it. I was hesitant to write this article, for I didn’t want to seem like I was complaining about the life that I know so many people would want to live. After discussing it with my teammates, I realized how necessary it is. Not a talk about how we don’t love the sport we play anymore, or about how tired we are, but the real feelings that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Several of my teammates talked about feeling like we are in a never-ending cycle. Rinse, repeat. We feel as though when we have free time, we should be taking advantage of it instead of relaxing or “clearing our heads”. Going to class feels like a job in itself when we had multiple sprints the day before and lifted in the morning. Not to mention the personal dilemma I have been going through that I know other people experience as well: I am more than just a volleyball player. Like I mentioned, I am a woman, a student, a writer, and among many other things, I am an athlete. However, I feel like the only thing that matters is the “athlete”. This could be me being cynical, or just me being aware of the fact that about 90% of my time is taken up by practicing, lifting, getting treatment to heal my body from the previously mentioned activities, and remembering to eat and sleep among all the other things. How do I define myself as more than the sport I am here to play?

I have realized that I may be too tired to read a book for fun or my body will hurt when I want to go on a walk– but there are things that I can do that make me feel better about myself. I cleaned my room this morning and did my laundry. I cleaned out my car as well as finally listened to my favorite band’s new album. And while these might be activities that I should be doing anyways– framing it as a reward for the body that I am in and the life I get to live makes it a whole lot easier. It made me write this article and make my bed. What I am trying to say is, if you are reading this and feeling a similar way, that is OKAY. If you are reading this and don’t know how to get out of your slump… try listening to your favorite music or call your friends from home. Although they might not take the stress completely away or break the loop, they make the loop a whole lot easier. 

Allie Lopez

Bucknell '21

Hi! I am an animal behavior and creative writing major at Bucknell University. I am passionate about sports, lifestyle habits, and mindfulness. I love writing as a pastime and hopefully will continue to pursue it in the future!