Taking a Breather

I’m not going to lie, I have been going through it. 

Between homework, midterm tests, papers and life in general (especially life in general), I have been pretty burned out in terms of this whole ~college~ thing. Crying at random intervals? Yep, that’s been me this October — don’t judge; crying can be cathartic. 

Related: Life Can Be Hard

Basically, by the time that fall break — which is technically only a day, as we have Indigenous Peoples’ Day off and not really anything else, but I digress — rolled around, I was ready to take a breather. Nay, I needed to take a breather. So, perhaps a little irresponsible, I essentially avoided all of my work this weekend while hanging out with my parents, who decided to visit for the few days they could. 

But, it made me reflect on the necessity of having breaks. What I consider irresponsibly avoiding my work is probably better seen as taking a much needed mental health break. In American society, we so often glamorize the idea of working to the bone — of burning the candle at both ends, staying up into the wee hours doing work, and waking up early to get even more work down. 

Anne Helen Peterson wrote a wonderful essay for BuzzFeed News, entitled “How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation.” As someone who is probably considered a Zillennial (too young for the coined Millennial generation, but certainly too old to fit into Gen Z), I related a lot to this article. Peterson details that people — that Millennials — get burned out because they have internalized the idea that they always need to be working. Without work, what are they doing? 

Related: I’d Rather Not: Learning to Say No 

This is something I have struggled with as of late. When I have to volunteer for my sustainability class, I reconcile the fact that I am not staring at my computer screen, getting papers and other homework-related tasks done by acknowledging that this volunteering is for a class. It gets me into nature and allows me to really work with my hands, which is great, but I still focus on the fact that I am productive for doing so — as if it would be a waste to do it if it wasn’t related to something I had to do “for work.” 

Yikes! That doesn’t sound healthy, does it?

Well, it’s not, really. 

Something I need to do personally, and something I think all of us college kids could benefit from, it taking a break from things every once in a while. We may not necessarily be able to take off whole weekends from our responsibilities — full-fledged adults, particularly those who work in customer service or jobs that are not specifically “9-5,” do not get this luxury either, but that is perhaps for a different conversation — but we should at least make in effort to prioritize ourselves over our work every once in a while. Who has the time to block off an hour or so for “me time”? No one, really, but maybe we should. I could certainly use a break.