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You may have noticed that your motivation to watch lectures, complete assignments, and participate fully in discussion section recently, has disappeared. On top of these feelings, the daily anxiety and frustration of living during a pandemic has everyone feeling exhausted. This feeling has a name: burnout.

When I feel this way, once I sit down at my desk, I can’t seem to complete anything or even begin tasks, for that matter. However, I have taken a few steps to curb this feeling. For one, changing my usual school routine made a difference in my overall attitude towards online school. Instead of working at the same cramped desk I’ve been hunched over for a year, I decided to take my classes outside a few times a week. Most coffee shops offer safe, outdoor seating and free WiFi. Driving or walking somewhere different to do classwork creates a sense of pressure to be productive and provides me with a much-needed change of scene.

I have also attempted to restructure my day to create more of a ‘work-life balance.’ By waking up just a half hour earlier, I can get started on school work in the morning and finish my work for the day before dinner time, freeing up my evening for self care and relaxation. Some days are more hectic than others and don’t allow for this schedule, but blocking out time in the evening to relax keeps me from working all day long.

On the topic of self care, I try to practice small acts of self care throughout the day. Contrary to popular belief, self care does not have to be expensive or elaborate. In between classes, I go for leisurely walks, do some gentle stretching, cook a meal for myself, or paint my nails if I have the time. Nobody can work for twelve hours straight, and your body deserves some love after sitting at a computer for a while.

The pandemic has limited opportunities to study in new places or fill the weekend with entertaining activities. With a little creativity, I have found that there are still activities to sprinkle in during the week that make life feel a little more normal. Recently, I paid a visit to a local art museum that was open at 25% capacity and walked through a farmer’s market. Small excursions like these provide some variety into my life and force me to leave my house. Burnout and boredom often go hand-in-hand, so I suggest picking up a new hobby or hiking on a different trail rather than sticking to the same routine you’ve had for months.

Burnout cannot be solved in one day or even one month. The pandemic has made it difficult to stay motivated without the same joys of pre-Covid life. In this last half of the quarter, don’t be hard on yourself if you need to take a break or show yourself some more love than normal.

Stephanie Gerson is a first-year student studying Art History at UC Santa Barbara. She is from Palo Alto, California and she is passionate about sustainability, fashion, fitness, and vegan cooking. In her spare time, Stephanie loves going on bike rides around campus, catching up with friends, or spending hours completing her latest embroidery piece!
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