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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Faas

‘Back to normal’ is taking a toll

Coming off of midterms, there seems to be a general haze of fatigue around campus. It has been a few weeks since fall break and we are still a few weeks out from our Thanksgiving break. We’re in the thick of it — classes, sports, activities and jobs. All of these things are crowding up our schedules and keeping us busy.

I, for one, am tired. It seems like this semester (while very fun) has been incredibly hard to keep up with both physically and mentally. Going to in-person classes and making sure that I am paying attention is more of a challenge than I expected it would be.

At first, my struggling confused me a bit. I have never really been someone who struggled with school before, and never in these ways specifically. It wasn’t until I had a very eye-opening call with my mom that I realized why I was exhausted every day.

I have never done “real” college. As a sophomore, I have never experienced what it means to be a real college student until this year, just like how most others haven't sat in a classroom for extended periods of time since March 13, 2020.

While many teachers have been sympathetic towards students who are stressed, I have found that not all have been quite as understanding. Hours of readings and essay after essay have been assigned — my D2L notifications are truly off the hook.

Now, I'm not trying to complain, and I understand that college is supposed to be difficult; however, the switch from online and hybrid learning to suddenly having to be in the classroom has been difficult. Not to mention all of the social interactions we now have to have!

Sometimes it was nice to be able to wake up five minutes before class, grab my laptop and hop on Zoom. On top of classes being in person, events are happening in person, too, which adds an entirely different level of social interaction and, for some people, just yet another reason to be tired.

It can be exhausting trying to balance everything, especially since we still have online and hybrid classes in the mix. Trying to remember what is due when, and where it needs to be turned in, is a drag. Is that paper due in person at the start of class or on D2L at 11:59 p.m.?

I come home from a long day of class, work and socializing and simply have to lay in bed and recharge. I either take a three-hour nap or scroll through social media mindlessly just to get some energy (both physical and mental) back.

While burnout is surely a concern for a lot of college students right now, I do think that this semester has been better than the last two semesters in some ways. I feel like I am finally learning instead of googling all of the answers (oops?). I actually get face-to-face interaction with teachers and my peers that I didn't get before. Also, it is much harder to fall asleep in a classroom than it was to Zoom. I can no longer put my class on like a podcast and do other things, which generally has improved my focus.

There are plenty of things that you can do to reduce the risk or effects of burnout. I obviously am not a professional, so I reached out to someone who is. Mike Cammarata from Canisius’s Counseling Center had some advice to offer students who may be experiencing burnout.

“Burnout is a real concern for everyone these days, but we certainly see it among our student population. It’s a response to feeling maxed-out and experiencing long-term stress. In the short term, doing things like limiting screen time, eating healthy foods, exercising, getting enough sleep and being around people you care about will help, but addressing the underlying causes is also important,” Cammarata said. “Extended breaks or vacations to recharge can help, as can changing jobs or reducing hours and commitments. Creating a routine that consistently includes unstructured downtime or a mindfulness practice is also a great way to counter burnout’s effects.”

While being aware of ways to help yourself when experiencing stress is important, Cammarata stressed the importance of seeking professional help, as well.

Cammarata explained, “If individuals are noticing their burnout feelings are intensifying or affecting multiple areas of their life, we would also recommend seeking help from a mental health professional. We are here for our students and an easy appointment request form can be submitted from the Counseling Center web page to start the process of feeling better.”

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