GHS students, staff discuss ever present issue of burnout

GHS students, staff discuss ever present issue of burnout

Following the fall semester, many students find themselves dealing with the inevitable problem of fatigue and burnout. But just because it’s inevitable doesn’t mean it’s unsolvable.

Burnout is a natural phenomenon that can be caused by any kind of work, said Galt High School Advanced Placement psychology teacher Noah Kepner.

“If I could give a definition,” Kepner said, “it would be along the lines of no longer having the will, energy or desire to do something because you’ve done too much of it too quickly.”

There are times of the school year that bring more burnout than others, Kepner said.

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“There comes a point in a semester where things just get muddy, mundane and there’s too much of it at a certain point,” Kepner said. “Especially when you reach the end. Mentally, we’re already at break. But you still have to do all the finals and the tests, and the assignments.”

During these times it’s important to check in with students and see what can be done to help those who need it, said GHS guidance counselor Rosario Emperador.

“(There are) students feeling overwhelmed and stressed,” Emperador said. “We reach out to students when we notice failing grades and contact them to check in and find out what is going on.”

In addition to reaching out to the student, and the teachers, it is just as important to fill in parents about what’s going on with their children, Emperador said.

We suggest students reach out to teachers and sometimes we follow up with scheduling parent-teacher conferences,” Emperador said. “Involving the parent is important, so students feel supported not just at school but at home.

There are many factors beyond school that can lead to students feeling burned out, said GHS senior Alexa Murillo Cuevas.

“I experienced burnout the majority of my junior year, due to personal issues and hardships and the amount of AP classes I was taking,” Murillo Cuevas said. “It all built up and turned into something a little more than burnout, so much so that it affected my relationships with my friends, my motivation to do my schoolwork and my overall mental health.”

When students acknowledge they’re burned out, they can start to take steps to bring back their motivation, Kepner said.

“As soon as we start identifying our problems, it becomes a little easier,” Kepner said. “Because burnout can also filter into and kind of expand into other areas of our life. … But if you have this underlying feeling of just apathy, identify what it is that’s making you feel burnt out … because identifying it helps you metaphysically or metacognitively separate yourself from the problem.”

After acknowledging burnout, the next step is to manage your time wisely, Kepner said. 

“Step two,” Kepner said, “would be to make a plan. Make a plan and then set small goals for yourself. Even if it’s just, ‘I’m going to study for 30 minutes and then I can have that one small little reward,’ whatever it is that motivates you. Take a larger problem, and break it down into smaller chunks and it becomes a little bit more manageable.”

GHS students also can find help at the counseling office, including counseling from Lodi’s One-Eighty Center, Emperador said.

We have One-Eighty counselors that are available to meet with students,” Emperador said. “And our School Psychologist is a resource. Students can talk to One-Eighty counselors in a positive and encouraging environment.”

According to its website, the One- Eighty Center aims to provide “comprehensive mental health services with an emphasis on adolescents and their families” and offers services at “over a dozen high, middle, and elementary schools in Lodi, Stockton and Galt.” For further information, check out the website: One-Eighty | Lodi (

Beyond managing time well, it’s important to build in breaks for yourself, Emperador said.

Make sure you are getting enough sleep,” Emperador said. “Eat a healthy and well balanced diet, get some exercise even if it is just a walk around the block or track, attend tutoring if needed, join a club or sport if you have not joined one, get a calendar and mark important due dates to avoid procrastination and make time for the fun activities that you enjoy.”

Everyone has different ways to combat being burned out, Murillo Cuevas said.

“I find that letting it out – whether it was crying or ranting to others or journaling – helped,” Murillo Cuevas said. “But I couldn’t just complain, instead I had to use that expression and turn it into something productive. I asked myself what I can do to help myself … and I made sure to just take little breaks for myself to do something fun or relaxing.”

Ultimately, the best way to prevent burnout is to recognize that we’re human and we have limitations, Kepner said.

“Know when to take a break,” Kepner said, “and what you can actually let go of and say no to. Unless it’s your required stuff, know when to draw the lines and be like ‘Nope, that’s enough, I’m taking a little break.’ ”

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