Students across the WC campus — and the United States — are feeling the effects of burnout

By Lexi Meola

Elm Staff Writer

During the COVID-19 pandemic, where everything is virtual, students are missing the in-person interaction with their peers and professors; and many are already burnt out.

According to the Mayo Clinic, burnout is a “state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” 

While stress is natural with school, constantly being “signed on” is starting to get to many students. There always seems to be more assignments coming up or another Zoom meeting to attend. 

Burnout can affect your physical health as well as your mental health, affecting sleeping patterns and eating habits. 

Domino Magazine interviewed primary care physician Dr. Pouya Shafipour from Santa Monica, Calif. about how burnout can impact the body after one week, one month, and beyond. 

Dr. Shafipour said that after one week, stress can make you more susceptible to catching a virus or a cold.

After one month, “you may begin feeling irritable, tightness in your body, a change in your appetite, and start having anxious thoughts,” Dr. Shafipour said.

After six months the effects reach a whole other level of problems for mental and physical health. 

“If you’re constantly stressed out, you could experience all of those symptoms and reach a true point of burnout, where you might feel a lack of enjoyment, become really pessimistic, and unconsciously isolate yourself from others,” Dr. Shafipour said. 

Many Washington College students were feeling signs of burnout as early as the third week of classes because of a significant increase in readings, quizzes, homework, and exams this semester over others. 

“I do see an increase in assignments this semester compared to last and other traditional in-person semesters,” junior Kyle Rufo said.

“I feel as though professors believe that since we are not meeting in person and sometimes not meeting as often as we would have in an in-person semester they must overcompensate with additional material and assignments that just ends up being overbearing rather than helpful,” he said. 

“There always seems like there’s a big assignment due at the end of the day,” sophomore A.J. Geradi said. “I feel I’m definitely spending more hours on homework then I did before [the COVID-19 pandemic].”

“I definitely feel overwhelmed this semester,” sophomore Julia Totis said. 

Totis also said she didn’t have enough time to herself.

“Fridays are the only days I get a break and I am able to sit down and not do work. I did not feel this burned out [at the end of the] previous semester,” Totis said.

Another contributing factor to burnout is Zoom fatigue. According to Harvard Business Review, Zoom fatigue occurs because of different factors. 

“‘Zoom fatigue’ stems from how we process information over video,” Liz Fosslien from Harvard Business Review said.

There is so much going on in the call itself that many people cannot process the different actions occurring. While not all students are feeling the effects of Zoom fatigue, many are starting to as we enter the middle of the semester.

Senior Will Reid said he is feeling the effects of Zoom fatigue particularly with “classes back to back and meetings in between.”

Students are overwhelmed, stressed, and tired by the time their classes finish for the day.

 “This semester feels like a joke, like I’m outside of myself looking into my computer scene as the looking glass and seeing something that isn’t real and doesn’t matter,” Rufo said. “Sometimes it is hard to convince yourself when you cannot really see any physical progress being made.”

There are some ways people can do to help stop or prevent burnout. 

“Take mini breaks from video during longer calls by minimizing the window, moving it to behind your open applications, or just looking away from your computer completely for a few seconds now and then,” Fossilien said. 

Some other ways you can do are returning to a hobby that you had stopped doing, talking to friends, going outside for a walk, or reading a book. 

Whatever you choose to do, make sure to give your eyes a rest from the screen.

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