The Consequences of Exhaustion: Don’t Ignore Your Body’s Need for Rest

Thanksgiving break seems so close, yet with the chaos of work, jobs, extracurriculars and simply attempting to maintain our relationships with loved ones, that one week of relaxation appears incredibly distant. Not to mention, 2020 being one of the most devastating years for human rights issues has reached its boiling point, an added stressor over what’s to come for the rest of 2020. Let’s be honest: we’ve been tired since the not-so official lockdown in March, but we can’t afford to ignore our priorities completely.

 Right now, you might be in official workaholic mode, trying to get to every last task checked off the to-do list for the month, downing cup after cup of caffeine beverages in exchange for a few more hours of energy until, eventually, crashing. Unfortunately, this has become a normal routine for a majority of college students and those with extensive job duties, but once it becomes a daily habit, it’s incredibly difficult to get back on a healthier schedule.

As much as it seems necessary to push through to the very end, we need to start being kinder to our bodies after our energy has been overexerted in multiple areas, allowing ourselves genuine rest and rejuvenation guiltlessly. However, what happens to our bodies when we ignore the signs of work-induced burnout?

Although sacrificing sleep seems like the most practical option to get tasks completed on time, it is extremely damaging to our overall health. According to an article in Psychology Today, clear signs of physical and emotional exhaustion may include, but not limited to, “cynicism, detachment, ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. General manifestations include feelings of apathy and hopelessness, pessimism, anger, loss of appetite and more.” Letting these feelings and behaviors go too long without consulting someone who can help can become dangerous and could lead to a vicious cycle of overworking to the point of crashing, only to do it all over again.  

Take it from a senior college student with a job, an internship, and involved in several organizations--- resist the urge to say “Yes” and commit to too many responsibilities that you don’t actually have the time or energy for. Set and maintain boundaries with yourself so that you’re not harming your body in the process by being overly reliable. Of course, reliability is an admirable trait to employers and professors, but there has to be a limit set so that you’re not being called on for every tedious, draining task. For example, if you know there is a week that will be busier than others due to exams and assignments, communicate with your organizations and/or supervisors ahead of time that you will need to prioritize that week for solely studying; they may allow for someone to cover your work shift or help you fulfill your organizations’ duties so the work won’t be all on your shoulders, alone. Preparation and asking in advance are key so that you’re not creating unnecessary stress on others and yourself in making these accommodations.

woman sitting in front of Macbook Photo by from Pexels It’s highly unusual for people to not be stressed right now, but that shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. Don’t apologize for needing to rest. Don’t feel guilty for needing to request an extension if you truly need it. Your health comes first and it shouldn’t have to be compromised in order to feel successful and productive.