Burnout

I wasn’t going to write an article this week due to the overwhelming amount of work I had to get done before finals. But since this seems to be something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, I figured it was appropriate not only due to the fact that we’re finishing up the fall semester, but also because as a writer, I’ve noticed a lot more recently how much I and other people are feeling burnout.

Now, there are two different types of burnout I’m referring to. They’re similar, and different. The first type I want to address is the type of burnout where you overwork yourself to death because you think that the end product will be better, you’re out of time, or you are just crazy and think you should burn yourself out when you’re working on any and all school assignments.

I completely understand that, because I also tend to stay up until late at night doing certain assignments, especially the ones I had to do this semester with InDesign. I struggled with learning how to use it since I’m not creative when it comes to design. Rather, I’m better with words. Regardless, I’d stay up to all hours of the night or get up massively early to finish or print or something, and the end result would be a decent grade, but I wanted to do better. 

Thankfully, the assignments got easier once I understood the program better, and even when I had to do large assignments like creating an entire two and then four-page newsletter basically from scratch I became very terrified at how my work would turn out. I hated both of those assignments and spent a long time working on them, but received an A- on the first and an A on the second. I’m a 3.3 GPA student, so I was just thrilled to have even passed.

I’ve constantly worked until late at night on assignments not only because I have loads of homework at the end of every night, but I also have a huge issue when it comes to procrastination. In 2014, the American Psychological Association did a study and found that 80 to 95 percent of college students procrastinate on their schoolwork. Now, this could be for any number of reasons: sports, clubs, other homework, a job, friends, parties, you name it. Not everyone puts work off intentionally, either.

For example, when I used to participate more in theatre, I’d be staying up until two every morning because I’d get out of class, have an hour before practice, which went from 6-9, and then would normally hang out with my friends for another hour before going home to finally start my work. Not only that, but some days I’d need a nap before being able to even glance at my homework. Due to my inability to sleep well without prescribed medication (which doesn't even help much), I sleep a lot less than an average college student does—maybe four or five full hours a night.

Procrastination is already a huge issue when it comes to college, but then students have built up all the work that grows taller than they are and constantly save it to do it all at the last minute. This may work for some people, having a bit of pressure to get the work done to help them work harder (which is what I tend to do, and it has worked well for many assignments in the past) but not only is that dangerous to your mental health, it causes students to burnout.

The word burnout is pretty self-explanatory, but the Dictionary.com defines it as a “Physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” If we keep working ourselves into the ground and hurting our mental state so much before finals, we’re exhausted, we’re sick to our stomachs, we’re delirious, and then we will perform poorly on said final exams.

I’m going to shout this for all the people in the back: “IT’S IMPORTANT TO TAKE BREAKS AND WATCH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH!”

I mentioned earlier that I’d nap after classes due to my exhaustion. There’s nothing wrong with that. I never used to nap before college, but now I can almost never get through a day that starts at 8 am without at least an hour or two worth of naps in between. Take time to eat some good food, or hang out with your friends for a few hours; these are important steps in making sure you’re not burnt out, which isn’t just better for your grades, but for your body as well.

This week, while taking the time to cram, make sure you take a break. Get lunch with friends. Watch a movie with a loved one. Get something to eat as a little treat, because you earned it this late in the semester. Watch some funny YouTube content. Grab a beer at the bar (only if you’re 21 and older!) and make sure you’re giving yourself the necessary breaks you need to keep your sanity after finals end.

Also try to procrastinate less, which I know is hard. I fall into the 80-95% of students who also leave work to the last minute. But I also don’t have any final exams, so I win!

But I’m not done yet. I mentioned I wanted to talk about another type of burnout.

Similar to the first way I talked about, I’m getting burned out from writing.

Yep, you heard that right. The writer is burned out from her chosen major and soon-to-be profession. 

Look, I don’t ever lie to my readers. I’ve been writing online for different sources since I was in middle school, and I go through times where I’m staring at the screen in front of me and I want nothing more than to close the screen and roll over, no longer thinking about my writing.

But I’ve always had to push through. This semester, I took on several new tasks for myself. Not only am I now the Public Relations officer for the Shoofly literary magazine on campus, but I’m also the head of the fiction section, the secretary, and I run every social media account. On top of that, writing an article every week for HerCampus is very difficult, because I don’t always have a topic to cover, and I rush out an article that I hate but still allow to be published anyway. Not only that, but I also write for the newspaper and submit an article every three weeks, each of which takes time to construct, do interviews, find angles, and put together. 

That’s not even everything I do. Along with the clubs, I took three writing classes this semester, and the two classes that weren’t writing, I still had to do a lot of work for. I feel like I haven’t stopped writing papers and that I could keep going with all of them. I don’t like complaining about the things I love like writing because that’s like looking a gifted horse in the mouth. But my hands hurt, and my wrists are sore, and my eyes are tired. I spend so much of my life sitting in front of a computer screen, and thinking of topics to talk about, and doing research that I’m not having as much fun.

It’s often this happens with jobs, especially with what’s been happening lately on YouTube. A lot of creators have been making more videos saying that they’re burned out. They keep doing the same thing over and over, week after week, for years, and then they sit down for a second and think; “I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing the same thing with no changes.”

I’m lucky. I have six weeks of winter break where I don’t have to write for anyone else but myself. However, I’ll still be researching article topics that I haven’t had time to work on all semester for HerCampus and the newspaper, and I’ll be getting ready for my internship next semester in which I’ll be doing a lot of writing and interviews and reports. 

I’m so used to writing all the time that I never really considered hitting this point where I actually feel burned out without doing any writing for myself. I’m a novelist, and I’ve worked on two chapters of my newest novel in one year because my free time goes to clubs or sleep, or family and friends. I haven’t had time to write for myself much. I would love to, but I’m also so burned out that when I can look at the book, I want to push it away and go to sleep.

So what should I do? For one, I need to take more breaks away from my computer. I’m so used to it being attached to my legs, sitting at the kitchen table of my apartment typing away, or leaning in bed laughing at another article topic I could come up with. I’m obsessed with word count and trying to be even slightly funny or insightful. I keep pushing myself to do something big because I want to be big. I want to write novels—I want to tell stories.

But for someone who already has a hard time dealing with mental health, I really need to take a break from trying to overwork myself to the point of exhaustion or lack of heart for something I love.

I hope you take away from this something important and cut yourself some slack with finals coming up.

I’ll see you guys next semester, and hopefully, we’ll all be a little less burned out.

For more information on burnout watch this hilarious video by one of my new favorite YouTubers on her funny tips and tricks of how to avoid burnout and admitting how much she needs to give herself a break as well:

Jaiden Animations: The Closest Feeling to Death that isn't Death