Burnout: not a requirement for college students


Brady Saylor

Ethan Staten, a freshman electrical engineering major, studies on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, at the William T. Young Library in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Brady Saylor | Staff

Quézia Arruda Cunha, Reporter

You need to arrive before everyone else. You need to finish before everyone else. You need to give your all completely to be successful.

I always heard these phrases throughout my childhood.

I always associated the idea of being a good student with the number of hours I spent on books in my frantic studies.

In Brazil, especially during the pandemic when everything came to a standstill, the famous philosophy “study while they sleep” came up.

The traditional Brazilian educational system, which I’ve known since I was three years old, has always tried to insert the notion that to get good grades or to be recognized by a potential employer, you need to be consumed with studying for every millennium. 

Having the weekend as a time to rest and renew was for the losers — those who certainly wouldn’t be able to get into the best colleges in the country.

Waking up at 4 a.m. to study before all the other students meant fighting for your university spot or dream job.

However, today, as an international student, I notice that this is not just a Brazilian mindset.

I dare say that this unhealthy and inhuman routine has already contaminated a large part of the globalized world, especially in the United States.

As college students, our routines are not the same, yet almost all students have the same thing in common: burnout.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the word “burnout” refers to the state of severe stress usually caused by the total commitment of the individual to a demanding task. 

Originally, this word was more associated with health professionals, such as nurses and doctors, who sacrifice what they can to complete a very stressful task: caring for and saving lives.

The thing is, we’re not doctors.

We are just students trying to build a quality academic career.

I wonder at what point it’s worth dedicating ourselves so much to tasks that don’t measure up to our intimate character and intellect.

As someone who knows what it’s like to experience burnout on a regular basis, I can tell you that there is a way out, however difficult it may be.

The first step is to understand the need to confirm with a psychologist and psychiatrist whether your condition is in fact a case of burnout or if you just need a brief mental rest. Do not self-examine.

Burnout, as of 2022, has been included in the International Classification of Diseases. Seek medical help before taking any further steps.

Once that’s done, stop for a minute and analyze your routine like someone with peripheral vision — from the outside.

See yourself from the outside and realize what actually needs to be done in your routine and what can be easily replaced by a moment of pause.

According to the National Institutes of Health, our brains tend to create new and more effective skills after just a short break between high-demand activities. 

Take the time to look at nature’s green and blue dots, which are generally associated with peace of mind.

And, of course, respect your body and your mental and physical limits.

In a few weeks, we will be taking finals. We all know that this will not be a light and peaceful time for any student.

We know the fear, anxiety and daily stress of not knowing how you will perform on tests or final assignments.

However, be smart.

For you to be able to sit down and take a good test, you need to understand the content.

Take your precious five minutes to move your body, even if it’s to go to the bathroom or fill your water bottle.

After all, it’s better to have your mind and body intact than not survive until the end of the semester.