Burnout, Part 3: The Solution

Photo Credit: rawpixel.com

Photo Credit: rawpixel.com

Quin Benedict , OwlFeed Opinion Columnist

I had been working far beyond my own limits. My mind and body were screaming at me to stop, but I couldn’t afford to stop the constant juggling act of everyday responsibilities. 

I watched as more and more important things were ignored or abandoned. Creativity, friends, chores, and schoolwork all slipped away from me.

I lost so many things that used to mean the world to me… And for what? 

A few pounds lighter than I should have been, I realized I wasn’t a machine. I had to stop eventually. “Eventually” turned out to be sooner rather than later — my body quit on me, and for the first time in what felt like months I actually took a break, albeit against my will.

Other students at Agua Fria are currently, or have a one-point, experienced burnout. In the previous two installments of this series, we dove into how school, as well as other pressures outside of education, have impacted my peers. 

Now, it’s time for a solution. I can only stand to be miserable and exhausted for so long and I know others feel the same way.

Edith Lara, a sophomore, described how she overcame burnout. 

“I feel like I haven’t found an exact solution, but once I realized doing things on my own terms and doing things that make ME happy, I’ve felt a lot better.” 

She explained previously that pressure from family drove her to try and become something she wasn’t. Edith chose to stand up for herself and decided she had to put energy into what made her happy.

While some pressure can be removed, others are outside of our control, so what do we do? Many students described that stopping to take a break helps them the most with burnout. 

Izzy Moncavage, a sophomore, described the method they use to destress. 

“I’ve been trying to find more ways to just relax and take time for myself whether that be through art, coloring, or just listening to music,” they said. 

Moncavage also explained that there isn’t any right or wrong way to relax. “I think it’s best to do something that you love and helps to destress you,” they said.

Self-care is also a great way to combat burnout. 

“I would recommend doing things that revolve around self-care or things that you consider self-care like journaling… things that energize you as a person,” said Danielle Nickerson, a freshman who has experienced burnout herself as well as helped close friends through it. “It’s different for everyone.” 

Ivy Stanley, a senior, described how stressful it was to try to balance school, band, and a social life.  Stanley explained how frustrating it was at times, and how their friends were impacted. 

“I talk to far fewer people. Isolating yourself isn’t good and it isn’t what I’m doing, but they aren’t kidding when they say balancing school, your social life, and mental health all at once is hard,” Stanley said. 

They go on to explain their philosophy on trying to find balance. 

“I would say that it’s okay to say no to some things,” Stanley said. “Of course make time for your friends and do sports, but you don’t always have to be doing something. Making time for yourself is important even if you are not always working on something.” 

The common theme from real Agua Fria students as well as mental health sites is a focus on self-care and allowing yourself to take a break. Being able to stop and destress is essential in fighting burnout, but what happens when you feel guilty for stopping? I’ve internalized that every second I’m not productive is a second wasted, and Izzy shared that same sentiment. 

“I try to destress but I definitely feel a lot of guilt if I haven’t been productive…” Izzy said.
“The feeling is very prevalent and like I really haven’t done anything even if I’ve done a lot.”

Ultimately, the solution to this guilt is changing our view on productivity and using every ounce of energy we have on things other than our own health. Life isn’t about working yourself to death, it’s about being able to stop and appreciate how far you’ve come no matter what your personal journey is. Being able to accept that some days you’re on top of the world and others you can barely get out of bed, it’s natural. Give yourself room to breathe and make mistakes. 

Hopefully, this series helped you, the Owl reading this, at most with overcoming burnout or at least to not feel so alone. While everyone is fighting their own battles we all share one thing in common: this school. Remember to celebrate each item crossed off a to-do list and reward yourself for a long day’s work. 

Most importantly, take care of yourself.


Click Here to read Part 2.

Click Here to read Part 1.