The SPECTRUM

Volume 31

The SPECTRUM

The SPECTRUM

Winter Season: Burnout or Buzz?

Illustration+by+Annabelle+Cheung+26
Annabelle Cheung
Illustration by Annabelle Cheung ’26

Advice by Isleen Lee ’26

As students approach winter break, students also near finals, end-of-unit tests, and countless assignments. It is the most stressful part of the school year and it is not easy to stay motivated throughout the time. The numerous tests and assignments are one of the main reasons that cause academic burnout. Burnout usually consists of a period of a lack of motivation to get work done, such as completing homework assignments or studying for a test, a decrease in focus, and even a decline in one’s performance. Most importantly, it can lead to severe physical and mental health problems.
Any student’s experience with academic burnout will prove to be stressful. Like the symptoms listed above, many of us are left feeling unmotivated to complete any work, but anxious because we are not doing any of the things we needed to do. “I’ll do this at 7 p.m.” became tomorrow, and tomorrow became the night before the deadline. This vicious cycle takes advantage of many people, especially students. If anything, I’ve learned that this pattern won’t stop itself after a certain amount of days or even weeks. If we don’t step in and regain control of our work habits, we are only giving into to be the puppet of a merciless cycle. At first, many people may feel lost stepping back after days of being unable to do any work. You may be behind on work, which would only contribute to your unwillingness to get back on track. Fortunately, there are some tricks and tools that are accessible to everyone that helps reverse the aftereffects of academic burnout.
First, identify what assignments or exams you need to study for. It is important to note the deadline, so you can prioritize certain subjects over another. Knowing what you need to work on is the key point to getting back to your regular study habits. Regardless of the length of the list, separate the assignments by class, then priority by looking at how close the deadline is. Utilizing this chart is a great way to keep track of the things you need to do. A few examples of charts like these are the HW planner, Notion, Todoist, but a piece of paper will do, as well.
The most important part of this, however, is not overworking yourself. Even though it may seem impossible to do so, remember that academic burnout can affect any student, and chances are, you’re not the only one going through it at the moment. The entire point of reversing the effects of burnout is so that you can successfully continue your study habits consistently. It is also vital to keep in mind that your productivity does not amount to your self-worth. Being kind to yourself through this period is essential, since academic burnout is never something easy to deal with. In the end, academic burnout is not something to be overlooked because of how easily it can drain a student of their physical and mental health.

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About the Contributors
Isleen Lee, Reporter
Isleen Lee ’26 is a new 9th grader and a first year Spectrum reporter. Writing seems to come naturally to Lee and she has been using writing as a powerful tool for seemingly forever. She writes for Joongang Student Reporters (a highly-selective program for high school students who are interested in journalism) and a local storytelling program called Koreatown Storytelling Program. Lee plans on learning more about the people around her and spotlighting members of the Harvard-Westlake community. 
“I just really love writing because it comes to me so naturally and I can share my work with the rest of the community.”
Annabelle Cheung, Reporter
Annabelle Cheung ’26 is a second year Spectrum reporter. Cheung has been taking journalism classes since the second grade, and has always had an interest in journalism and reporting. After having a great first year in eighth grade, she wanted to come back for her freshman year before going on to the upper school. Her favorite section to write for is features, as it comes to her most naturally.
“I love interviewing people. It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do. I love getting to know people and asking questions that wouldn’t otherwise come up in conversation.”
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