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Mental Health Awareness During the Pandemic

(This article was originally published in the November 2020 issue of Paper Jam)

Written by: Rosa Corcoles, Yuritza Neri, Nancy Cisneros Lemus, Alejandro Velasquez, Janelie Garcia

Stress and Burnout

by Yuritza N.

Burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged or excessive stress. Burnout is a gradual process and because of this, it may not be detected at an earlier stage. Although stress can be an indicator of burnout, it should be remarked that burnout is not the same as stress. Stress involves too much, while burnout is about not enough.

When someone is stressed, they have too many ongoing pressures and their body is in a state of constant alert. They over-engage, overreact, resulting in feeling a sense of urgency and hyperactivity. Burnout, however, is the aftermath of excessive stress. When a person experiences burnout, they no longer have that jumble of strong emotions. Rather, it is characterized by disengagement, blunt emotions, helplessness, and hopelessness.

The symptoms of burnout can involve a few different physical, emotional, and behavioral aspects. Physical symptoms include tiredness, lowered immunity, frequent headaches or muscle pain, and changes in appetite or sleep habits.

Emotional symptoms include a sense of failure, self-doubt, helplessness, detachment, loss of motivation, and decreased satisfaction. Behavioral symptoms include isolating, withdrawing from responsibilities, procrastinating, coping, and taking out frustration with others.

Identifying Different Types of Burnout

by Nancy C.L.

Digital burnout is stress and fatigue brought by prolonged exposure to technology. At a time where our lives are online, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Spending hours upon hours staring at a screen can lead to exhaustion. This type of burnout can lead to students feeling like the work they have is never-ending.

Academic burnout is the negative toll that prolonged studying has on a person's emotional, physical, and mental state. Even when we aren't in the midst of a pandemic, college is a time where we find ourselves working until the point of exhaustion, so of course, it would only worsen during this time. This can lead to feeling a lack of accomplishment, lack of motivation, and reduced ability in school.

Emotional burnout is feeling emotionally worn-out and drained due to accumulated stress. A few signs and symptoms include feeling a sense of failure and self-doubt, feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated.

Asking for Help

Essential Habits

During intense and stressful times, it's easy to let slip up in taking care of ourselves which can worsen matters. Mental health is very closely tied to physical health so it's important to not ignore the essential basics of maintaining healthy bodies.

  • Remember to eat and sleep.

  • Exercise: take a walk when you feel stressed and overwhelmed.

  • Social interaction: maintaining contact with family members, friends, or even pets.

Physical Needs

Especially if your class is asynchronous, it could be difficult to get a hold of your instructors. Ask friends or classmates who are enrolled in the same course as you. Contact your professors, utilize a tutor or other help service. Reach out to your support system (family, friends, etc). Seek out a school counselor or turn to professional help if needed.


To help alleviate stress, try planning out your week every Monday before the module begins. This will keep you organized and avoid unknown surprises.

Especially with COVID-10, professors are getting sent emails daily by staff and students. Sending a message through Canvas can reach them sooner than email.

Take advantage of tutors! They most likely have successfully passed the course you're enrolled in and could provide beneficial advice.

Overcoming Burnout

by Rosa Corcoles

Experiencing burnout is common considering the stressful events we are currently experiencing and trying to adapt to. One of the most important things is being able to break out of whatever cycle is leading you to burnout. Here is some advice to help you on your journey to overcome burnout.

  • Learn your limits. One of the hardest parts about getting over burnout is setting new limitations. Continuously pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion is not healthy or beneficial in the long run. You don't keep driving a car if there's smoke coming out of the hood, similarly, you shouldn't dismiss your own care in favor of getting work done.

  • Acknowledging your feelings and emotions. When overcoming burnout, it is important to validate your own emotions and concerns. Do not dismiss them. Experiencing burnout is not a sign of being weak or of incompetence. Feeling overwhelmed during a time as difficult as the ones we are currently experiencing is justified.

  • Learn how you destress. Taking a break and stepping away from draining activities to recharge is essential to bettering and maintaining your mental health. Focus on yourself and give into indulgences, be it taking a nap, watching your favorite tv series or movie, or working out. Set aside moments for yourself in your every day schedule or give yourself an entire day to recover if needed.

Above all, be patient and understanding with yourself. You can and you will get through this. :)

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