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Why It’s Okay to Justify the $7 Latte: the Importance of Breaking Routines as College Students to Avoid Burnout

By this point in the semester, most of us have established a routine that we find comfort in. We crave routines and enjoy familiarity in our daily lives. They give us a sense of control. Waking up, going to class, studying at your favorite library, working out and going to sleep to do it all over again the same day – we use these routines to maximize our productivity and feel a sense of accomplishment. As college students, we often don’t include breaks in our routines as it is believed that they will hinder our productivity; this is where we neglect the $7 latte. But after a long semester, and with finals approaching, this routine begins to feel like a never-ending cycle as we get more and more burnt out. 

The World Health Organization identifies burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Burnout is characterized by three dimensions: 

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.
  3. A sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

Our constant routines and familiar lives put us at an increased risk for burnout. Bill Gates and many other successful,influential figures have spoken out about why they still love their careers decades later, and the one common aspect that they speak about is having variety in their daily lives. This is where that $7 latte comes in.

“Even if Gates’ case is quite an extraordinary one, it appears that avoiding routine, finding new projects and setting yourself challenges can work wonders when trying to avoid burnout,” writes Insider. There are hundreds of articles that state to stop buying your coffee if you want to be rich, but the $7 latte is a small price to pay for everything that it gives back. The $7 latte is the key factor in avoiding burnout because it is the break in your routine. It can be the way that you challenge yourself by trying a new order or location. The $7 latte can be the one task you tell yourself to complete to feel a sense of accomplishment. And if all fails, the $7 latte can be a source of joy, something to look forward to at the end of the week or caffeine to keep you going. 

Of course, the $7 latte is not a guaranteed solution to avoiding burnout. It is extremely important to acknowledge that hustle culture among college students is very damaging and leads to negative comparisons and competition among students. Hustle culture in the university setting as a constant series of “go, go, go” is incredibly harmful as it promotes academics and constant work as the avenue to achieve success, leaving little time for our personal lives as we pack our routines with copious amounts of tasks. As college students, we need to view our progress as our own rather than inflicting feelings of “we are not doing enough” or are ‘behind” our classmates. We must begin to reject hustle culture and realize that we are all on different journeys and we are enough. 

Breaks in our constant routines can prevent fatigue, increase focus and motivation and boost performance overall. The $7 latte – or even hanging out with friends, reading a book or watching a movie – is the needed break to avoid burnout.

Anita is a first-year biology major with minors in health disparities and French on the pre-med track! She has a passion for promoting equity in the medical field and hopes to share this through her writing. When she's not busy writing or studying you can often find her taking film pictures, travelling, bullet journaling, taking cycle classes, and baking!
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