The importance of prioritizing your mental health during exam season
The pressure of time crunches and deadlines can be daunting for students, especially during peak exam season at UVic. With these high-stress times, the importance of self-love and mental health breaks can be easily forgotten as your studies seem like the primary concern in your life.
I have become accustomed to the phrase “burnout”. It always troubles me to hear my peers say they are feeling “university burnout” in regards to their loss of drive to study. Somehow, students’ passion for their majors increasingly turns to dread as the school year goes on and they feel stuck.
For a while, this bothersome question ate away at my brain: why are young adults feeling mental exhaustion from topics they handpicked to study? I began asking myself how this turnaround happens among such a seemingly large population of university students.
I figured the only way to understand how burnout affects my peers so dramatically was to address my own experience with burnout and how I conquered it to regain my self-love.
Around the halfway point of my first semester at UVic, I slowly began to feel myself losing enthusiasm for my surroundings and school work –– loss of excitement is common among giddy first years once homework hours begin to rise.
Initially, I tried to blame it on my moving out of the honeymoon stage. I figured that I had become settled and the newness of university had blossomed into mundane normality. With those ideas in mind, I tried to normalize my feelings of constant repetition.
If only I had realized sooner that I was beginning to suffer from burnout because all I had been putting my energy into was school. This epiphany came to me and raised a variety of questions. When was the last time I had picked up a book for pleasure? When did I last go for a walk off campus for fresh air? When did I most recently call up a friend just to talk?
I knew I was facing a real problem when I couldn’t confidently locate the answers to my own questions.
Looking out my dormitory window, I saw the sun reflecting warmly off the campus buildings around me and felt an urge to get outside for the first time in what seemed like forever. Gathering a few friends who needed a retreat as much as me, we headed directly up Mount Tolmie. Immediately, a shift of mindset occurred within me. My body felt constant releases between the bursts of laughter and gentle conversation and settled upon a type of warmth and joy it hadn’t in far too long.
On the top of the mountain, a delicate breeze surrounded me from all angles. From where we stood together, the view of just how small we were came into eyeshot. From up above, each and every person passing by below was nothing more than a dot. It then became clear just how insignificant all of our biggest stressors in life were, because among all the little lives we saw below us –– they were all just another dot.
At this moment, I understood that I had to begin prioritizing breaks from school in order to ground myself and reset once in a while.
With the stresses of exam season weighing me down, I wasn’t capable of acknowledging the mental breaks necessary to keep me sane. Burnout can happen to all of us in very diverse ways. In times of high stress, it is vital that, as human beings, we take that extra minute to check in on ourselves and our loved ones.
Depicting a healthy balance between personal time and work is a crucial step towards regaining your self-love and improving your mental health.
If you do one thing today, take a moment just for you and ask yourself how you’re really doing. Most importantly –– do one thing today that reminds you why you love being a human.