Winter Break Burnout

A look at whether students end the first semester on a positive or negative note.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

With winter break drawing near, it’s crunch time for Stuyvesant students to catch up on work before the first semester ends. After a busy month of major exams and projects, many look forward to de-stressing during winter break. In a way, that week off is the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It’s the voice in your head that tells you, “You can do it!” Below is a look into how Stuyvesant students do, or don’t, manage to find motivation up until the very end.

For sophomore Robert Shibata, burnout is especially common toward the end of the semester since he always ends up having to cram for final exams. “[Stress] factors into my school performance by limiting my attention span and turning my sleep schedule into a thing of the past,” he said. With little sleep and a heavy course load, having such a stressful school schedule creates a vicious cycle leading to worse performance, leading to even more burnout.

On the other hand, sophomore Jordan Leung finds that much of his stress is reduced by the prospect of an upcoming break. “I look forward to breaks [at] the end of semesters which makes dealing with the workload a lot easier,” he explained. While the work itself doesn’t change, Leung finds that an optimistic mindset can make work significantly more bearable to manage.

Sophomore Tejas Siddaramaiah takes a more neutral stance compared to Shibata and Leung. “Unproductivity definitely makes me stressed because as more time passes, I have to rush to [meet] the deadline, which can take a toll on me,” he said in an e-mail interview. “But in general, I have the sense of the impending vacation, so I am somewhat rejuvenated.”

Senior Justin Leung, too, feels this rejuvenation but also finds that it can be distracting. “An upcoming break is helpful in giving [a] visible goal to reach as you slog through pre-break work, but it can be detrimental if you spend too much time thinking about the break instead of work,” he said.

Though the upcoming break may provide a sense of relief after getting bombarded with coursework and tests, some students still find it difficult to relax. While there aren’t any immediate projects or exams to worry about during school breaks, Shibata, for one, feels that his work ethic prevents him from fully enjoying his time off. “Unproductivity makes me feel a bit guilty, as I could be doing far more important things,” he said.

On the other hand, Jordan Leung uses the vast majority of his free time to unwind, while still leaving some room for productivity. “I spend around 80 percent of [the] break relaxing and 20 percent of my time getting things done,” he said. “I enjoy the time I have to relax and not deal with anything.”

To take full advantage of this extra time, junior Ashton Dong encourages others to complete their work early on during the break so that they’ll be able to enjoy the rest of it in peace. “I finish [my work] quickly so I have lots of time to relax [and] go out with friends,” he explained in an e-mail interview.

Similarly, Justin Leung suggests planning and prioritizing work, particularly regarding college admissions, to get it over with as soon as possible.“This winter break, we have regular decision applications due,” he said. “I’m hoping to get those out of the way and leave the college application process behind me and just be content.”

The next time you’re deciding between making that cup of hot cocoa and studying for exams over break, try to consider everything you went through to get there to begin with. The weeks leading up to it may feel like an eternity, but treating school break as the calm rather than merely the continuation can be crucial in overcoming the resulting burnout.