After the semester ends and finals are finished, summer officially begins for college students. Many students get summer jobs and take summer classes, but the burnout from the semester may stop people from wanting to attend their jobs and courses.
Finals have students studying for weeks, and the semester feels like it is never-ending with exams, essays and projects. Students need to realize that they do not have to be productive every day of the summer.
Society has groomed us into always wanting to be doing something, because if you are not doing something productive, you are wasting your time. This is otherwise known as toxic productivity. Free time should be a way to recharge from how hard someone is working; it's not about feeling bad when someone has idle hands. The need to always be hustling to the next task is harmful and should not be expected from people.
The pandemic did not help with the need to be productive. With school going online, there is more free time and a need to fill that time with productive activities. This feeling of needing to always be productive is called time anxiety. Time anxiety is the need to fill every day with productive things and feeling like you are wasting your time. Even though restrictions are calming and everything is open, time anxiety is still prevalent, especially since it is the summer.
Summer can be an excellent opportunity for students to earn extra money, travel, take summer classes and hang out with friends and family. After five months of studying and classes, summer can be a welcome, slow change. Being less productive during the summer is a fantastic way for students to take care of themselves and prepare for the upcoming fall semester.
Coming off of finals and the stress of the semester can make it hard to relax over the summer, but there are activities that can help with burnout. Some activities I have done during the summer are running, walking, journaling, sleeping, watching movies and reading.
Studies from the BMC psychology journal have shown that using mindfulness apps and listening to music have helped decrease stress. Students need to have breaks and activities they can count on to be a distraction from burnout.
Research from the Wellbeing Thesis — a collaboration project between the University of Derby, Student Minds and King's College London — has shown that taking breaks reduces stress and fatigue and can help reset your mood. Constant productivity sounds excellent in theory, but to reach one's full potential, you must take breaks and walk away from your work.
Needing to be continuously productive is a toxic mindset that many college students have. If we are not doing something productive every day, then it feels like we are falling behind, even though that is not the case.
Being productive is essential for getting things done quickly and efficiently, but being productive all the time is destructive and can worsen one’s mental health. In the summer, many students have more free time, so they need more things to do to fill the time, but it is important to remember that it is okay to relax, unwind and be lazy after working hard all semester.
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Kelly Marry (she/her) is a freshman majoring in journalism and public relations. She loves to read and travel in her free time.