Mindful Journeys: Burnout can’t beat us

I’m perfectly guilty of working myself to my limits. I’ve had to learn over the last few years that it’s not terrible to take some time to rest. Whether the amount of “hustle culture” posts I’ve seen on social media or having always been dialed to 11 since the amount of work I’ve had to do in middle school, I’m unsure. 

I’d like to say I know when I’ve been pushing myself too hard, but I can’t. If I’m not actively working on a task or at least trying to work ahead a bit, I feel that I’m slacking off or being lazy. Society has told us we constantly have to be productive and we should equate our worth to how much we can accomplish. However, there are only 24 hours in a day and there’s only so much we can do. 

It’s not until I have school breaks that I realize how hard I’m subconsciously pushing myself. The two weeks before spring break, my anxiety was kicked up full-time. I was stressed about midterms and all I wanted to accomplish to make my break as relaxing as possible. In turn, it put me into a vicious cycle where I was stressing out about being stressed out over school. It sounds ridiculous on paper, but it felt like pure torture. I was practically running to my car the Thursday before spring break to head home. 

Instead of going on vacation, I spent the week at home in Sioux Falls. Not exactly Mexico, but it felt so good to decompress in my room and spend time with my family. I focused on self-care so I could come back with a fresh start to finish the semester strong. 

I got a massage and facial from a local spa, did yoga every night before I went to bed and met with my therapist. I spent time with my family, had lunch with my grandma and hung out with friends a couple of times. When I wasn’t out and about, I was sleeping in and reading on my couch. I was taking time to do activities I wanted to do and being around people who boosted my energy. My stress (almost) disappeared entirely, thanks to me taking a little more time to focus on myself.

We all need breaks from time to time, but trying to incorporate them into our daily lives is an area where we can all improve. Taking care of ourselves before we get to the point of burnout is crucial to feeling our best. Whether it’s spending a night out with your friends or taking a 15-minute walk around your neighborhood, set aside time each day where your focus isn’t on homework, your job or other worries. Just you.

Header photo: Courtesy of Emma Johnson

Write to Emma Johnson at

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