Burnout, Part 1: Students Stress as the Work Stacks Up

Photo Credit: pxhere.com

Photo Credit: pxhere.com

Quin Benedict, OwlFeed Opinion Columnist

I didn’t notice how bad it had gotten until I couldn’t force myself out of bed. I think I knew I was falling behind before I was too far gone but I was so busy I couldn’t let myself stop and analyze those feelings. Depression took over every aspect of my life. Unanswered texts, unsubmitted assignments, dirty clothes piling, my own health all escaping my grasp and all I could do was watch as it slipped through my fingers.

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered this bone-deep exhaustion has a name; burnout. The Mayo Clinic defines burnout, job burnout specifically, to bea special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” Mental and physical health are known to be affected by burnout, and not for the better.  

Additionally, Healthline clarifies that, “Since burnout happens gradually, you might not notice symptoms immediately. But once it takes hold, it can affect your ability to function across all aspects of life.”

This is exactly what happened to me, and exactly what is happening to many other students attending Agua Fria High School. In this segment of my three part series on burnout I will be exploring how my peers have experienced burnout, specifically, how school has impacted them.

My original hypothesis was that the amount of schoolwork led to burnout, seeing as at times unrelenting assignments from six different classes can really run someone into the dirt if the stress is prolonged. Danielle Nickerson, a freshman here at Agua Fria, seemed to agree saying her stress is “mainly from school assignments, there’s too many of them.”

Similarly, Ivy Stanley, a senior, expressed that leaving work unfinished also led to their burnout. They state that, “Originally I was just overwhelming myself by not doing assignments and stacking up on missing work.”

As more work piles up, stress also builds. My procrastination peaked alongside my stress. Each day I felt like the mountain I was supposed to climb was just getting taller, so what was the point in climbing? I ignored the problem to destress but it only grew larger when I turned away making me that much more likely to ignore it. I know many others have found themselves in this dreadful cycle.

Izzy Moncavage, a sophomore, explained, “I take some tougher classes including an AP class which on top of my other classes takes up a lot of energy which leaves me stressed and feeling like I just can’t get anything done.” They go into detail on how their stress builds with each difficult class. 

I remember feeling stuck, far behind, and already barely standing on my house of cards. Classwork isn’t the only thing students have to worry about; grades, big tests, and even our futures weigh heavily on us. There is so much pressure to succeed and do everything right for the best possible outcome.

No one puts it better than Izzy. “I have a lot of pressure from my family to get high grades and take higher courses that will set up my future and potentially get me a scholarship [and a] successful job in the future,” they said. 

Each student I interviewed described different pressures within their school life that pushed them to their breaking point, however, no matter who I asked they all agreed on one thing. They aren’t alone in this. From freshmen to seniors, every person agreed that other students must be struggling with burnout as well.

This is what pushed me to learn more about burnout in the first place. As I was huddled on the bathroom floor, tears and stress puddling at my feet, I knew I wasn’t alone. We aren’t alone. There is a solution to this helpless exhaustion and we will find it together.

Next, we will dive deeper into the pressures weighing on Agua Fria students outside of the classroom and how stress from home can impact school.


Click Here to read Part 2.

Click Here to read Part 3.