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As I closed the bizarre chapter in my life that was the year 2020, I rang in the new year with hope and excitement for a fresh beginning. I’m not quite sure what I thought was going to happen, but I know I’m not alone in thinking that 2021 will bring some magical changes. I’m going to be honest: so far, it seems a bit like a 2020 clone. A month and a half in, I have found myself barreling through hobbies, each coming and going faster than the one before. I’ve made banana bread from scratch three times in the past month, and I’ve started to juggle. Even these hobbies are beginning to seem like a bullet on a boring WFH checklist. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Ron Friedman, author of The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplaceproclaimed, “we’re surrounded by devices that are designed to grab our attention and make everything feel urgent.” This has resulted in a universal need to feel productive 24/7. The world has slowed down. Generally, people don’t know what to do with this extra time, but a lot of it has gone towards TikTok, Instagram, online shopping, etc. (I’m “people.”) Because everyone is go, go, go at all times, it’s counterintuitive to feel “blah” by a day that is scheduled down to the minute. Yet here I am, feeling bored during the busiest time in my life. I know burnout isn’t a mystery, but prior to a couple of Google searches and an Emma Chamberlain podcast (Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain), I had no idea what the concept looked like in my life.

Calm environment with desk set up for studying
Photo by Arnel Hasanovic from Unsplash

Burnout looks like baking three loaves of banana bread, picking up juggling, getting my steps in, trying to read a book a week, and job-searching as a full-time student. Burnout looks like being “busier” than you actually have the energy for. Luckily, there are ways to shake burnout: I can attest to that!

Listen to your body. If you are staring at your computer, going cross-eyed after your third remote class of the day, TAKE A BREAK. I’ve found that because I sit at my desk all day, I feel generally unproductive because I’m “not doing anything.” Take a moment to check in with yourself and get away from those screens. What do you need at that moment? Coffee? A walk? Yoga? A bath? Chocolate? Do something fun that will give your brain a break. My breaks usually consist of Taylor Swift, a drive, and some coffee. Have a self-care moment. 

Kalos Skincare via Unsplash

Why are you doing whatever is in front of you? The other day I had to ask myself, “why are you even trying to learn to juggle?” I have zero interest in juggling and minimal hand-eye coordination, so the answer was, “I have no idea.” As someone trying to recover from burnout, this was a good check in. I should be spending time on activities that are meaningful and spark joy. Engaging in activities that mean something to you and letting go of the ones that don’t is vital to bounce back from burnout.

The most important thing to do when recovering from burnout is to recognize that you’re not alone. I confided in friends about my experience with burnout, and many, if not all of them, were experiencing the same panic of being bored and busier than ever. You deserve a break, and your body is definitely telling you so. Listen to it!

Lucy Masuret

U Mass Amherst '22

Lucy is an honors student in the 2022 graduating class at UMass Amherst. She prides herself in emphasizing inclusivity and open-mindedness. Lucy is passionate about all things health and wellness and would eat pasta for every meal if she could.
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