Burnout: the Leading Cause of Students’ Plummeting Motivation

Burnout: the Leading Cause of Students Plummeting Motivation

Anjali Chinnareddy, Reporter

Burnout. When you hear the word you may think of a flame racing to the end of a matchstick. Before you know it, the spark is gone. BOOM! Lights out. 

Although that sort of resembles what burnout is, it’s not exactly the full picture. Burnout, whether emotional, mental, or physical, is a state of exhaustion caused by excessive or prolonged stress. From an outsider’s perspective, it may just be seen as some sort of “excuse” or laziness. As this stress piles on and continues, lack of motivation and interest gradually worsens.  

 Many students, after a year of online learning, suffer from burnout. For many students, burnout started as early as the beginning of distance learning. Motivation for school waned because the enjoyable aspects of school they liked – seeing friends, socializing, activities, interactive projects – were erased with the introduction of virtual learning. Furthermore, assignments took on a different flavor. Although teachers were instructing hoards of emojis, the emojis were pummeled with more work. This was an attempt by teachers to overcompensate for the absence of student-teacher contact. Lack of clear deadlines, optional attendance (often no one lurked behind emojis), and an ever present burnout led to low completion rates and diminishing grades, which in turn lowered students’ feelings of adequacy.

Burnout should not be confused with laziness. It may look the same, but it is not a personality trait, it is a symptom of apathy or depression. “My burnout started in seventh grade when we first went online… everything was optional,” said a freshman at Briar. “The rest of that school year was just a mess. Once eighth grade started and teachers expected work, I was not prepared. I realized how hard it was to actually work. This year (9th grade), the first quarter was actually pretty easy because I had a fresh mind but then the work started kicking in, and I realized I wasn’t used to it. It’s just a lot getting back, and it’s not like a lot has changed; it’s just our mindsets.” Recovery from burnout can take days, weeks, or even years.

Some tips to help overcome burnout include reaching out to others, creating a new way of looking at work, and reevaluating priorities. Talking face to face with someone about your problems may help calm down the nervous system. By looking at work from a different viewpoint, it may help find balance between home and school. When reevaluating priorities, don’t overextend. Breathe. Make school work fun, see the value in it, take breaks, and don’t overwork. 

Reach out to a school counselor or a trusted adult if you feel you are suffering from burnout.