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Serena Mao

At my school, being “busy” is almost worn like a badge of pride. In the hallways, it’s not uncommon to hear people battling over how little sleep they got the night before. Students are almost excited to tell their friends that they have 5 tests that day in their AP classes. However confusing this may be, it’s an unsurprising result of living in such a high-pressure environment both at school and at home. 

Though my school might just be an outlier, the circumstances are still analogous to many other situations but likely to a lesser extent. When one experiences a high level of stress on the daily––such as grinding out homework and then extracurricular activities late into the night––it becomes almost an instinct. Although we are naturally averse to doing excessive amounts of work, forcing ourselves to undergo the same routine can cause us to become workaholics. Eventually, we become almost addicted to the pain, almost numb to the never-ending cycle of worrying.

As a result, we begin to develop the mindset that whenever we have free time, we must be doing something productive to not “waste time.” Indeed, when those that are constantly occupied by work and severely stressed legitimately have spare time, they often question that they have no obligations to fulfill and even look for responsibilities to act upon. However, this residual panic over completing necessary tasks only entrenches the high-stress levels one is already subject to. Those that fall victim to this “workaholic” mindset need to be cognizant of the trap they’re falling into and ensure that they leave enough time to sit back and relax rather than attempting to fit as many “productive” activities into their schedule. After all, humans can’t be constantly productive; if anything, taking a break from one’s hectic schedule can improve mental health and even productivity in the future.

About Serena Mao

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