Is the Phoenix fire burning out?

By Michaela Oberholzer 

Stress is to college what fire is to a phoenix.  While stress is often just seen as a naturally occurring byproduct of college students’ lives we often forget to discuss what happens when that stress goes unchecked. 

According to the National College Health Assessment around 80% of college students report feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that is required of them. So, it should come as no surprise that burnout among college students is of rising concern.

According to Angela Baker, the Director of Counseling at Wilson College, “Burnout is its own kind of trauma or assault on the body and brain.”  

During an interview with some members of Wilson’s counseling staff Director Baker explained burnout as feeling “tired but wired.” Explaining then that burnout presents itself in feeling like, “I am exhausted. I am emotional and physically tired, but I am wired in the fact that I cant stop.”

Ms. Robin Whitmer-Kline, a counselor at Wilson added, “Often times we are not realizing it cognitively or emotionally, but the body reacts [to burnout].” The entire counseling staff explained that burnout can display itself in a multitude of ways including physical illness and other mental health issues. Healthline lists frequent health issues, exhaustion, dissatisfaction with life, and irritability as symptoms of burnout, but states that this is not an all-inclusive list. 

Director Baker expanded on burnout culture saying, “Being busy has become a badge of honor and if you are not busy that equates to not important or not trying when in reality that is not true.” This is important to note because rest and self-care are the most straightforward ways to treat burnout.

Chloe Sprecher, Current Senior

Chloe Sprecher, a current nursing senior at Wilson, reported having been burnt out in previous semesters and explained the importance of “Allow[ing] yourself to get a break.” She said, “Time management and getting control of some area of your life in a healthy way,” was critical in her overcoming of burnout but also expressed how simply giving herself time to step back and take inventory of how she was feeling made all the difference.

Everyone who spoke with me about burnout expressed the importance of rest but also acknowledged that taking a break doesn’t always feel like an option when you are in the “tired but wired” mindset.  Luckily our Phoenix community has lots of options in taking action against burnout.

Chloe explained, “I have taken advantage of the academic success center,” which just so happens to be one of the free resources for students on campus who may be struggling. Director Baker also mentioned Wilson’s counseling center and career development resources as places to find support.  However, options don’t end there as even reaching out to a friend or talking with a professor may provide some aid in reducing burnout.

Burnout is no stranger to the Phoenix community and simply intensifies if not addressed.  If you are feeling burnt out please use the links above to connect with the free services Wilson offers because the phoenix fire burns brightest when we are rested and healthy.


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