There is no doubt that most of us are feeling both stressed, and a sense of burnout at this point of the pandemic (and year in general). For us students, as the semester ends, these feelings are perpetuated. I am consistently finding myself trying to push through and stay motivated, and am even falling into the trap of thinking “once this is done, I will feel better”, or “I’ll be happy when…”. I recognize that these are negative mindsets to have, and I fear that they are inevitable. However, I don’t think that this needs to be the case. We need to be able to recharge while also maintaining motivation, before we reach the point of burning out (which can be dangerous!). It should never have to get to that point. There are a few things that I think we can all do to avoid burnout and pursue thriving and successful lives.
A main part of Covid fatigue as well as current burnout is the fact that we cannot see other people. As I have mentioned in many other posts, there are ways to get around this, like speaking to friends on the phone, running errands, and getting out of the house. However, we may feel as though we don’t have time, as I often feel, due to the fact that we have too much work. This is the part of burnout that is classified as feeling overworked. The fact that the pandemic forces us to be at home most of the time means that we are also forced to work and have school from home, too. This only perpetuates the idea that we always need to be working. To elaborate, normally if one was feeling ill, they would take a day off from school, work, etc. However, now, it is tempting to continue working, since we are ‘already at home and won’t be seeing anybody anyway’. I know that I would feel guilty missing a zoom meeting or a lecture if I were not feeling well, as I am already at home. I feel as though many people can relate to this. However, we need to remember that we are all humans and will have off-days. This goes for both mental health and physical health. We need to remember to prioritize ourselves, and normalize taking a day off if we aren’t feeling “well” in any way. It is easy to stay in a continuous work-centred loop, but this will not help you in the end.
Furthermore, we need to direct ourselves away from the “I’ll be happy when…” mindset that I mentioned before. If we are constantly thinking in this way and are always looking ahead at something better, we will miss what is currently in the present (this reminds me of a TikTok where the creator describes destination mentality). We will never truly be happy if we live in this way. Foresight and ambition are good qualities to have, however they can easily become problematic when we are only living for the future and not ‘in the now’. It is completely normal and healthy to have things to look forward to, but we need to make sure that we are still allowing ourselves to re-charge each day and enjoy all aspects of our lives. If not, burnout will inevitably occur. I think we should take the proper precautions to stray away from experiencing this if possible! Why should we only “fix” or deal with something when it becomes extremely bad? Hypothetically, if you had a cut, would you only tend to it once it became infected and/or dangerous? Or would you handle it in the beginning by tending to it properly? I assume you would choose the latter, and I would too. So with that being said, we need to take be proactive in ensuring that we are always living healthy, happy, and prosperous lives. Life is truly too short.
For those of you losing motivation, like myself, take a moment to re-charge. Shift your mindset, do the things that I have suggested in this post and in previous ones, and prioritize yourself and your mental health. Do a little self-care. If you aren’t feeling up to it, say no to that extra zoom meeting, or ask for an extension on a deadline if you needed. If someone asks you to do something for them, don’t be afraid to say no, or to tell them that you will do it another time, when you are less busy. There are a multitude of options for us, and we shouldn’t settle for things just because we are at home and not “visibly” busy. This will lead to an unhealthy and detrimental cycle to our health. The things that I have mentioned may be difficult, but they are worth it. As they say, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first. It will be worth it in the end.
Going for a walk and getting fresh air to recharge
Lastly, it is also very important for us to find and use mental health resources when we need them. Part of de-stigmatizing mental health is having the “difficult” and candid conversations about how we are feeling, when necessary. We should be able to normalize expressing our feelings and mental-state with our bosses, professors, co-workers, and anyone else in our lives. This way, we can take a step back, re-evaluate, and put ourselves first. Ultimately, we can certainly avoid burnout.
Hope this helps,
Cover photo created with Canva