As students finish up midterm season in high school and middle school, it is important to acknowledge the “burnout” feeling that comes along with this, especially this year. Gazing at screens for classes and review sessions and staying on them after school to do homework and study is exhausting.
Additionally, with COVID-19 continuing to spread throughout our community, it is hard to find a balance between school, homework and free-time when it is all being conducted under the same roof. It is crucial that students of all ages learn how to cope with this “Zoom fatigue,” as they will unfortunately have to deal with online learning for at least the remainder of this year. Here are some ways to cope with that feeling of Zoom fatigue, or that tiredness and burnout associated with communicating and working on screens for too long.
1. Get outside. Spending time in nature is one of the best ways to boost your mood. Not only does going on a long walk or bike ride boost your endorphins, but prying yourself off of your screen is crucial to avoiding the feeling of burnout and Zoom fatigue. There are many ways both younger and older students can enjoy the outdoors this winter, even when the temperatures are not ideal. Bundling up for a walk or run is a great way to get some Vitamin D in the winter. Hula hooping, jumping rope and rollerblading are other ways students can escape their screens while exercising outdoors. No matter how you choose to get outdoors, it is crucial to get out and change your environment when hours are spent staring at a screen.
2. Plan out your day. Setting a schedule for yourself is extremely important in finding a harmonious balance between studying and relaxing. Making a schedule and/or to-do list first thing in the morning can allow students to budget their time in a successful way. When building this daily schedule, make sure to include time for school, homework, meals, relaxation and fun. When you plan out your day efficiently, you are more likely to allow time for what makes you happy, which can impact your whole day and week.
3. Exercise. While many dread exercising, it can provide a great release for students of all ages from school and screen time. Exercising releases endorphins which act as a mood-booster for the rest of the day. No matter what kind of exercise you prefer, they all provide the same benefits for students of all ages. This can include activities such as basketball, soccer, tennis, cycling, running, dancing and yoga. During this era of learning when most of a student’s day is spent being sedentary at a desk, moving one’s body is more important than ever.
4. Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself can be one of the most impactful combats to the feeling of burnout. Self-care does not have to be expensive or time consuming, it can be as simple as taking a bath or cooking up a scrumptious new recipe. Doing something that makes you feel good is what self-care is all about. Your mind and mental health need attention after staring at a screen all day, so incorporating different forms of self-care throughout the week is key.
5. Socialize with family and friends. It can become very isolating to be on a computer all day, so talking and laughing with family and friends is a giant mood-booster. Even though we can’t physically see each other as often because safely gathering outdoors is challenging in freezing temperatures, picking up the phone and catching up with a friend is greatly beneficial. Students need to socialize with each other and people outside of their classes in order to maintain a healthy social life and set of social skills. This is why facetiming and calling a friend is important, even if it means a few extra minutes on a screen.
—Emily Milgrim is a senior at Schreiber High School