Thanksgiving break is fast approaching, and I urge you, University of Alabama students, to take full advantage of this brief respite before we head into the last leg of the fall semester.
If you are like me, you are beginning to feel fatigued by the accumulation of assignments, exams and sleepless nights that have built up over the semester thus far. That’s burnout. Although it is tempting to address this fatigue by going to class less often and leaving work unfinished, we must find ways to regain motivation and get the grades that we pay so much for.
That is why I encourage you to use our upcoming break to take care of yourself and your mental health.
If you are going home, make sure to unwind and spend time with those you care about. If you are staying on campus, maybe try to go out and explore Tuscaloosa a little more or go to a spot that you’ve wanted to try but haven’t had the chance to yet.
This break is also obviously a good time to start studying for finals or to get a head start on some of those end-of-semester projects and papers. Maybe consider using this time to schedule your various assignments and set aside some time for studying.
However, I would also like to reemphasize that you should use this time to focus on you. If that means not even thinking about exams or schoolwork for a few days, then go for it; you should use this break to do what you feel is best for you and your wellbeing.
Burnout arises from non-stop stress, and will actually cause you to perform worse on those exams and projects that you are so worried about — there is such a thing as overworking. And so, make sure that you really take a break over the holiday.
Perhaps return to the hobby that this semester has forced you to put on the back burner, or even try something new. Catch up with the friends you haven’t seen since the summer. There are a myriad of ways to feel accomplished and fulfilled outside of academics. All of these activities will remind you that a single test or piece of homework is not the end of the world, causing your stress level to decrease and allowing you to get better grades.
We must also not forget the times we are in. We are still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, and our political world is as divisive and chaotic as ever — if we do not prioritize our mental health, these external factors can easily take a toll on it. This Thanksgiving break is a great time to do so.
Also keep in mind that these things are true no matter what time of the year it is. Stress and burnout are ever-present issues (especially for college students), and it is beneficial to stay cognizant of that. There is no shame in setting down your schoolwork to get a good night’s sleep or to go do something you enjoy to clear your head — it is more than likely that both your well-being and academic performance will only benefit.
You can always reach out to your professors if you find yourself struggling, and the University’s mental health resources like the UA Counseling Center and Student Care and Well-Being are always there to help as well.
Questions? Email the Opinions desk at [email protected].