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Taylor Johnston and Ellen Wagner make important decisions about the Post in the editors' office on the evening of Wednesday, February 5, 2020.

Editorial: Take care of your mental health, avoid burnout

Among all of the different majors and student organizations on Ohio University’s campus, there is one thing that unites all students: burnout. 

Whether it’s chalked up as senioritis or mid-semester blues, the pressure to be academically and extracurricularly successful gets to us all at some point. It’s important to take care of one’s mental health to prevent burnout but also be aware of how to cope with it, especially as the end of the semester inches closer. 

Burnout is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” While burnout can occur at any point in the semester, it is more frequent during midterms and finals. Large projects and exams all due within the same week or two can be very overwhelming, especially in addition to any stress in one’s personal life. Sometimes it can feel like all of one’s bad luck comes together to make life seem terrible, which can also cause one’s stress to manifest into physical symptoms.

Although burnout is not a medical condition, the World Health Organization, or WHO, classifies it as an occupational phenomenon. WHO does not consider burnout to be an illness or health condition, but it can influence one’s health status or decision to contact health services. It results from chronic work-related stress that is not being successfully managed by an individual. 

According to WHO, burnout can cause energy depletion, feelings of mental distance from one’s job and a lack of professional efficacy. If anyone has ever felt or been made to feel like their burnout shouldn’t affect them as much as it is, just know WHO considers it significant due to its effects on one’s mental health. Your stress is valid.

The key to avoiding burnout is recognizing the early stages of it and taking action sooner rather than later. For example, if feelings of stress begin to be overwhelming and take up one’s daily thoughts, carve out some time for self-care. Call it an early night, do something to relax and go to bed before 1 a.m. Just one additional hour of sleep or time to not think about school can be a game changer. Also, being aware of how you operate under stress and planning accordingly based on upcoming assignments can help manage burnout before it starts. 

With the countdown to finals rapidly dwindling, remember self-worth is not based on academics. Yes, it’s important to always put your best foot forward, but sacrificing your mental well-being for an assignment is not necessary. There are exceptions to this, but it’s okay if the grade on the assignment is a little lower if it means you don’t feel like a shell of a human by the time it’s done. 

In line with being self-aware of stress, take advantage of breaks when they’re provided. If there is something that absolutely has to get done over the break next week, get it done. But, make sure to use the rest of the time to catch up on sleep, reminisce with loved ones and mentally prepare for the final weeks of the semester. Having a clear headspace going into finals will work wonders.

The Post wishes a break for good food and rest upon everyone, and please take care of your mental health this finals season. 

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: Editor-in-Chief Katie Millard, Managing Editor Emma Erion and Equity Director Alesha Davis. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.

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