Academic Burnout & Zoom Fatigue – Hope Wei
POV: It is Wednesday morning, and you find yourself cleaning your room while listening to your physic lecture. You know that you should probably be taking notes, but instead you find yourself doing some spring cleaning during class. For the life of you, you cannot seem to find to motivation to sit down and be the diligent student you once were.
For many of us who have been in online classes for over a year, the Zoom fatigue and academic burnout feels so real. With Zoom classes feeling like an optional podcast, social interactions at a minimum, it is easy to feel isolated and alone. I will be sharing my experience and offering some advice to help students to cope with the zoom fatigue and academic burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even as the co-chair of the Mental Health Committee at BU, I still find myself struggling to keep my head above water with a flood of assignments, seemingly interacting with the same three people, and keeping myself sane. Especially with my early morning 9 am, it always appears tempting to sleep through lectures since they are recorded. “I’ll definitely watch them later” I find myself telling myself that after staying up till 3 am on night. I got busy, and I ended up watching this lecture a couple of days before the exam. “Never again” I found myself saying. But then it happened two more times, I could see myself falling down a slippery slope and could not find any traction to pick myself up. However, I eventually did.
This leads to the first piece of advice I have, if you can go to lecture live go. If not, set a time in the day that you will always watch your lectures and stick to it. It is easy to waste time if you do not have a schedule or a routine in place, especially during the pandemic where traveling consists mostly of you walking to the fridge. Studies show that people tend to do worse in classes that have recordings since students become too reliant on them, and procrastinate watching and learning from them. Obviously I am not suggesting that professors should not record their lectures, since lots of students have time zone issues, prior commitments, and off days.
My second piece of advice is to have an area that is used only for work, and another for watching Netflix, gaming, etc. so that you are able to mentally separate those two aspects. Perhaps it means you study at your desk and then chill in your bed. Try your best to have separate areas for both leisure and work for your mental health.
My third piece of advice is to go outside and/or exercise. Since most of us now exist primarily in front of our laptops and computers, it is important to stretch your legs. Most of us have probably put on a few pounds, or maybe even the full quarantine 15. It is very important to get moving, even if it means going on a ten-minute walk around the block, doing 10 push-ups a day, etc. A little bit can go a long way. If it seems overwhelming to attempt and fit in an entire workout routine in your packed schedule, then start small. Perhaps after every class you decide to walk around for a minute, do a situp for every person who has their Zoom camera off, doing what you can is better than nothing. Can’t find the motivation for run a mile, then walk it. Don’t feel like walking a mile, walk half a mile. Can’t seem to find any willpower to go outside, walk a lap around your house. Even that can help with the sedentary issues that many of may have after sitting down for 8 hours a day, since we were not evolved to remain sitting.
My penultimate piece of advice is to reach out and talk with your friends. It sounds cheesy, I know. But I guarantee that you are not alone. It can be as simple as “Hey, how are you?”. Or do my go to which is to send a funny meme I found while surfing the internet. Then, if the vibes are right, feel free to ask to video chat or call. It can do wonders for your mental health to just see someone’s face, hear their voice even if it is only virtual. There are many great social games you can play if you want to catch up or hangout with your friends, or even have a movie night with screen sharing. I personally recommend Among Us, Jackbox games, Scribblo, and Codenames. Which are also the games that we are playing for MHC Wellness Day Game Nights (coincidence I think not). There are also google extensions to sync up you and your friends Netflix, so that you can stay synched even if they pause. If it does not work out, do not take it personally. The pandemic has taken a toll on all of our mental health, when people are isolated or depressed it is hard to respond back and ask for help. Be patient with your friends.
My final piece of advice is that if you feel that you are really struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. There is no shame in getting help. If you feel depressed or anxious, realize that your mental illness does not define you. It is not something you should hide, since there is often a stigma around mental illness.
If any of the advice has been helpful for you, please follow the MHC on Instagram @bumentalhealth or join us for game nights on the Wellness Days from 7-9 pm. Additionally, if you have any ideas please feel free to reach out to Savannah or I about mental health initiatives. Thanks for reading!