By Lindsey White
Bella Paddock finally laid her head down on her pillow at 11p.m. She went straight from her class to a babysitting job where she simultaneously kept the kids from ruining the house and typed up a paper. All her days seemed to look the same: classes, work, sleep. Her stomach ulcers flared with anxiety freshman year until the burnout led her to drop out of school.
“It became so much that I stopped caring,” said Paddock, now studying for an associate in science in business. “There’s so much going on in your life that’s its almost laughable.”
A 2020 study done by the American Psychological Association titled “Stress in America” categorizes Gen Z adults (ages 18-23) as the most stressed generation, 87% of them report their college education as a significant source of stress.
As the semester starts to wind up, many students can report feeling burnt out and exhausted.
“College is a stressful environment. First and foremost, acknowledge that,” said Elizabeth Sparrow, an intern at the Trevecca counseling center for the clinical mental health track.
Stress can be caused by a high expectation of course load and obligations outside of college. When that stress becomes chronic it turns into burnout and lack of motivation, said Sparrow.
“I was babysitting and maintaining my social life and doing school while at Trevecca and then the pandemic hit and I went to full time nannying and the school workload didn’t change and that was biting way more off than I could chew,” said Paddock.
According to The American Psychological Association burnout is “physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance, and negative attitudes towards oneself and others.”
Counselors in Trevecca counseling center see this every day in some of the students they serve.
“They’re not just students, they have many other obligations,” said Sparrow. “It can cause someone to need to take a break from college.”
That’s just what happened for Paddock. The physical and mental exhaustion had become overwhelming, and she dropped out of school in 2020, right after her freshman year.
“It’s not that I didn’t want my degree because I did and everyone around me was telling me I should,” said Paddock.
There are some endeavors that are not realistic to take on with a full plate, said Paddock and Sparrow.
“It’s really recognizing it early and reaching out for those resources because there are a lot of people available that want to help students,” said Sparrow.
Once Paddock recognized her symptoms and got the break she needed, she was able to take life slower, get used to one full-time job before taking on the title as a full-time student. She enrolled in online school at Trevecca for an associate degree in November 2020.
“Now that I’m more used to working a job full time I’m able to stack things on top of it,” said Paddock.
On a college campus there are resources that are available such as writing help, tutoring centers, and professors.
“Go back to the basics, everyone needs to sleep, eat, move their body, and get social connection,” said Sparrow.
Paddock will graduate with her Associates in science business this year.
“Just do one thing at a time,” said Paddock.