In attempts to keep campuses COVID-safe, Boston College and other universities across the country either shortened their spring breaks or dissolved them entirely. These policies aimed at deterring students from traveling out of state to popular spring break destinations and COVID hotspots, and to discourage any activity outside of CDC guidelines. In their stead, some schools penciled in “wellness days” – weekdays throughout the semester when classes were not held. Yet, while Harvard University included five of these “wellness days” throughout the spring semester, BC gave its students just one.
Wednesday, March 3, was meant to be a day for Boston College students to relax and recoup after the first half of their spring semester. However, many professors assigned work due that Wednesday or an exam due on Thursday, and many students did not feel as if they got the chance to take a breath. With midterms ramping up, many students feel like they never got the fresh start or reboot they needed.
The new online format of academics and extracurriculars adds to students' stress as they continue to navigate the unfamiliar learning and socializing styles. This format also gives the illusion of the courses being easier or students having more free time, resulting in a heavier workload from some professors.
After a full day of Zoom classes and online meetings, students often try to kick back and use their free time watching Netflix or scrolling through social media apps. This screen time adds up, resulting in a blurry line between work and play. This combination of indistinguishable screen time and attending class in bed makes it feel like the school day never ends. Students eat, sleep, work, and relax all in the same place and it seems as if they never get a break.
The untraditional schedule has also contributed to burnout. “It is far easier to book back-to-back Zoom calls, so I find myself eating lunch during calls or walking to class on Zoom,” said Natalie Sill, MCAS '23.
This nonstop workload, combined with the stress of a pandemic and heavy social issues on campus and across the world, has led to a nasty, school-wide case of BC Burnout.
Burnout is a stress condition that leads to severe physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Many students have expressed feeling hopeless or lonely as they navigate the empty corridors and a quiet Chocolate Bar. This isn’t unique to BC students. It is unlikely to go one day on social media without seeing high school, college, and graduate school students discussing their own feelings of overwhelming burnout. It is both comforting and depressing to see so many adolescents and adults alike suffering from the same fatigue.
However, some students also attribute Boston College’s “work hard, play hard” attitude to the added pressure and stress. A sophomore in MCAS explains how “students make the effort to appear ‘put together’ amidst a raging pandemic, difficult classwork, and stress of everyday life,” resulting in a feeling of isolation among peers. Here is how to know if you are experiencing burnout and some steps you can take to alleviate it.
With vaccine rollout progressing throughout the country, a return to normalcy (or at least a respite from this feeling of burnout) is almost in sight. Until then, it is important for students to take care of themselves. Although academics are incredibly valuable, students are people first and deserve to treat themselves as such.
A Quick Guide on How to Destress:
- Switch things up in your daily life. Eat at a different dining hall, walk a different way to class, or study somewhere different. Try to give yourself variety and don’t fall into a monotonous routine.
- Do safe things off-campus. As it is warming up, take a walk in Boston Public Garden or go for a hike. The BC Bubble is real!
- On that note, get some sun! Warm, sunny days are in our future, and Vitamin D is good for you.
- When you study, study in blocks. Take breaks between assignments and readings. Make sure it's a real break like a walk, doodling, or a power nap – looking at your phone doesn’t give your brain a break.
- Try to give yourself time to indulge in things you enjoy—even just a half-hour before bed or a good morning routine. Read, crochet, stretch, or watch a movie.
- Move! Go for a walk around the Res to clear your mind or have a five-minute dance party with your roommate.
- Talk to friends about your experience with burnout. People might be experiencing the same things.
- And if you are in need of more long term support, make use of BC’s mental health resources:
University Counseling Services:
Lean On Me:
https://lean0n.me/bc/ (617) 553-6655