Wellness Wednesdays: Combating burnout with professor Lara Schwartz
Schwartz shares tips to balance academics and wellness
Wellness Wednesdays is a series spotlighting the stories of American University community members who are working to uplift student, faculty and campus wellbeing.
Being a well rounded person comes in more ways than academic success and a laundry list of jobs; it also includes being emotionally and mentally healthy. This week's Wellness Wednesday highlights tips on how students can better balance school life with social life while not neglecting their future endeavors.
For Lara Schwartz, a professor in the School of Public Affairs, balancing work and fun is all about the mindset you enter school with. Schwartz told The Eagle about how students can avoid burnout and improve their overall wellbeing.
“Change the mindset to bring it back to the simple things in life,” Schwartz said. “Discovering things that give you joy and wellness is way more important than the resume builders because this activity is making all the other building blocks possible.”
Schwartz spoke on the intense culture at American University among students who seek to be the most well rounded, successful, expert student at school. This competitive culture creates an environment that results in increased levels of stress and imposter syndrome.
“I have seen burnout and I think it is unfortunate because it comes from a place of wanting to do the right thing,” Schwartz said.
Burnout, Schwartz said, often comes from a place of wanting to be academically successful and actively involved in a multitude of clubs and extracurricular activities. Still, she stressed to students that you can volunteer on a campaign and be a part of a lot of the activities that students try to pack on to their undergraduate experience outside of college.
However, something you can’t do for the rest of your life is go to college and learn from professors who are passionate and care about academia. Schwartz advised students who are experiencing burnout to put the “extra” stuff in life on a shelf and take a step back.
“Anything that makes it harder for students to get the most out of their academics might just be mistimed. I think that if you ask a lot of professors they will advise against interning during your freshman year,” Schwartz said. “Take the time to get into the rhythm of what it is like to be a student, then, with time and proper adjustment students can slowly pack on the activities and resume builders.”
Instead of jumping into an internship, Schwartz strongly advises students to go to the career center, build a resume, conduct mock interviews and construct a plan for the future, whether it be academic, career-wise or socially.
Schwartz also reminds students that it’s ok to take and breathe, re-evaluate and go from there.
“Do not burden yourself with extra obligations too soon,” Schwartz said. “It is hard to know whether a career is right for you in the context of a life you are feeling burdened and overwhelmed by.”