Take a break

Cartoon by Nile DeFreitas, staff cartoonist.  

While many students prepare flights abroad or weeks spent relaxing at home, other students dive deeper into their bookwork, volunteer activities or internships. Some people work extra hours during spring break. Work-intensive majors with competitive fields give students little choice but to work during every break in order to give themselves more leverage in the job market.

The expectation for students to work during spring break actively harms students, and college culture needs to shift to prioritize health. Many students feel the pressure to choose between their health and their careers, and students feel especially pressured during longer scheduled breaks where they could work more. The expectation for students to work during spring break leads to burnout and exhaustion.

Instead, students should prioritize themselves this spring break and rest.

According to a 2009 edition of the College Student Journal, “Burnout is most commonly conceptualized within the literature as a psychological syndrome stemming from one's relationship with work, and characterized by three dimensions: overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment, and a sense of ineffectiveness on the job.”

A 2003 research study conducted by Sheri R. Jacobs indicated that college students experience burnout at more severe levels than the general population. College students’ vulnerability to burnout originates from their environment: consistently high stress levels and a lack of accomplishment due to a never-ending workload contributes greatly to exhaustion. In 2017, a study published in the journal "frontiers in Psychology" found that 79.3 percent of college students face psychological distress and 62.7 percent have low self-efficacy perceptions.

Vacations work in decreasing burnout, according to Dalia Etzion of the journal Anxiety, Stress, & Coping. The length of the vacation seems to matter less than the existence of the vacation; week-long vacations showed similar results to longer vacations.

College students need to take breaks in order to protect their mental and physical health. However, many students face tremendous pressure to continue working during the breaks. The need to stay competitive in a job market through internships and work experience corresponds to many college students choosing to spend what little free time they have continuing stressful activities instead of resting.

While the need to stay competitive is understandable, college students cannot function well without breaks. The psychological and physical effects of burnout harm students and prevent them from being productive. Exhaustion and a sense of inferiority do not make hard workers.

So please, take advantage of the few breaks the University of Georgia offers students, and rest during spring break. Volunteering and internships can wait for the summer, but mental health cannot be procrastinated. Spend your spring break having fun and enjoying a relatively homework-free week and come back prepared with a renewed work ethic.

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