The first time I experienced mental burnout as a result of school occurred in my sophomore year of high school. The last few weeks leading up to my AP World History were dwindling by the second, while I struggled to fit in study-time in-between color guard practices and volunteer work. I was so stressed that even when I did have free time, I spent it just laying in bed, thinking about everything I had to get done, rather than actually doing my work. It felt like procrastination on a whole new level, and I often internally bullied myself for being so lazy that I couldn’t even read two pages of assigned reading. This resulted in me becoming depressed, anxious, and stressed in all respects to school.
I quit marching band last year in the hopes that my daily schedule would leave more room for my studying and prevent me from getting burned out again. As I’ve learned recently, however, it was never that I didn’t have time to do all the things I need to get done, but rather it was the fact that I had no mental energy left to do actual productive work. Indeed, most high school students will tell you junior year is the hardest of them all, and I can attest this. Extremely advanced classes, combined with a job, new leadership positions in clubs, and regular teenage drama like worrying about prom all accumulate into one chaotic storm of stress. The education system has drained me completely of the energy I need to solve math problems and critically analyze a poem.
I’m not the only student going through this. For example, there are countless threads on student-networking sites like College Confidential about avoiding and struggling through burnout. In addition, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and the Huffington Post have all published fact-packed articles discussing the issue. High school students around the country experience an intense amount of stress, regardless of their background. Burnout cannot be simplified into a universal equation that measures the extracurriculars and class rigors of each student. Even students who don’t take APs or participate in clubs/sports experience stress due to school.
So what should we students do when we run into burnout? Yes, the obvious steps to take include decreasing the volume of your extracurriculars, dropping an AP or two, and decreasing your job hours.
But aside from that, we need to regain our motivation to do well in school. Personally, I find the best way to do this is watch others be motivated about school. Youtubers like Nicolas Chae, Ibz Mo, and UnJaded Jade have amazing videos documenting their educational journeys, dealing with tough classes, and every other issue every student has with school. Remember why you even loved school in the first place, and why you started off the school year with high hopes in terms of grades and learning. Immersing yourself in an environment in which everyone is interested and motivated in school also helps a ton.
Have you experienced school burnout? Leave us a comment telling your story.