Image: Stress/Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Deadlines, burnout and stress in the Easter holidays

Coming home for the holidays is the best part of the year for many students. A couple of weeks off to watch Netflix shows as bucketloads of your laundry are sifted through and cleaned is a welcome break from university. However, one particular time within the school year seems to become more stress-inducing than most – the Easter holidays.

Usually, the Easter break is a decompression from the large amount of work given throughout the busiest term. I cannot count how many times I prayed for reading week to come sooner.

The holidays can make university feel like it’s on a fast-forward setting

As a literature student, I had counted down the days until Christmas and despite the inertia I felt while at home, I was so excited to finally wrap myself in my favourite blankets and drink hot chocolate all the way until the New Year. The thought of finally coming home was relaxing after the pressure of adjusting to term one. 

However, what happens when you have barely made it past term two?

I think a lot of people resonate with the concept of burnout. The stress of the year falls into this small pocket of time between the end of the second term and exams. It can feel very hopeless, and it’s even more difficult to see the end of the year when trying to figure out what to do with your time over those long four weeks. The holidays can make university feel like it’s on a fast-forward setting, especially when it’s just before the end of the year.

It was like everything had piled itself onto me in a matter of weeks

Last year, I didn’t go home for the Easter break. Finding a routine outside of 9am lectures and seminars was jarring. Demotivation and sifting through towers of reading material was intimidating, especially when no one was keeping track that I had read them.  

I wanted to give myself time to meet my deadlines and prepare for the nightmare of term three but the process of adulting is hard and it can sometimes be made worse by going home. With family swarming to know if university was the time of my life yet, I found myself scrambling to my friends and treasuring every text more than any Easter egg treat. I felt isolated and overwhelmed. It was like everything had piled itself onto me in a matter of weeks.

With internships and deadlines, stress became a hydra of emotions. The reality of university life at this point had settled in, I felt alone and incredibly lost. Stress had quadrupled from small pieces of supplementary reading to large stacks of unread books by my bedside. The more work I knew I had to do overall, the less I wanted to do any of it. All motivation had been sucked out of me and I couldn’t get it back.

Goals should be broken down and accomplished in pieces

In all honesty, I felt drained and useless. I felt like my achievements during the term weren’t achievements at all.

Being able to get through the year was a part I downplayed. I think it’s important to remember that university is not an easy ride. Taking baby steps is perfectly fine, and it is normal to feel like you haven’t reached your full potential. Goals should be broken down and accomplished in pieces in order to prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed.

I am going home for the Easter holiday this year, but I can’t ignore that in a sense I feel the same way as I did last year. Sometimes university does feel like a cycle on repeat. Destress by healing and taking time for yourself but allow for time to reflect and think ahead realistically and positively.

We all get stressed out and working through it can be a labyrinth

I find that creative hobbies allow for those anxious thoughts to slip away into productive measures. Manifestation helps too as simply saying goals out loud helps in big ways.

We all get stressed out and working through it can be a labyrinth. I am looking forward to term three with a lot of projects to enjoy outside of my studies. The most important thing is letting myself relax and accepting that I can’t always be at the point I want to be at. The stress of the Easter holidays can’t be resolved by munching a cream egg with some tea, but it can with a little patience.

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