Posted by Melanie Perry
As positive as I may be about my experiences here at SLU, and as grateful as I have been for the opportunity to study and grow here, I would be completely kidding anyone if I claimed it was not stressful.
I’ve experienced burnout!
During my first year in the School for Professional Studies, I took one class at a time. I was nervous going into it, but I felt my confidence grow with each project and course successfully completed. I admit I resented the late nights and the homework. I woke up at 5:45 AM to go to work. After work, I would grab a rushed bite to eat and spend 5:30 to 9:30 in class, then drive back home to Jefferson County, where I would be lucky to catch my husband still awake, unwind and fall asleep by midnight.
Not wanting to disturb my family’s routine more than I already did, I tried to do all of my homework and studying during my lunch breaks. As an introvert, my lunch breaks have always been a time to recharge. Having to give up my quiet relaxation time, the occasional walks and leisurely meals in favor of intense concentration and online discussions got old.
This can lead to what we commonly call ‘burnout.’ According to Handbook of Occupational Psychology, burnout is actually “a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job,” which can lead to a decreased ability to function.
In 2009, I began taking two classes at a time because I was unable to stand the idea of going through this new routine for eight years. I was determined to do it in four instead. Of course, it got worse after that. The first semester I took two classes while simultaneously questioning the decision. But, like I had been doing from the beginning, I repeated to myself, “I can do anything for nine weeks.”
There have been some late nights and some missed social opportunities. I will also confess that there have been some conflicts with my husband. Although seldom, he has occasionally become resentful of my lack of availability when I closet myself away to take a test or finish a paper. Although the biggest supporter throughout my schooling, he has had to work hard at some odd hours in order to keep our house running smoothly.
The point of this blog is not to scare anybody, but to be realistic. My hard drive failed when a paper for school and a major magazine article were due. I cried, and then I redid the work.
There are certain coping mechanisms available. My family eats packaged foods so we do not spend our weekday evenings cooking. I take time to read recreationally every night right before bed to relax myself. Every now and again, I have scheduled a day off work and spent it in the library, which brings me home a little early, giving my husband a break. We laugh often and take time out to give thanks. And those are just a few of the ways we stay sane.
Photo Credit: Shine.com