The unhealthy normalization of overworking
October 28, 2021
As stress from high school, grades and social life builds up, teenagers tend to prioritize their grades and academics over their well-being. With everything they have on their plate, taking care of their own body starts to lose importance.
Since talking about this is so common among students, the fact that one has had only three hours of sleep is not a cause of alarm.
The environment that students are constantly surrounded by is the root of this struggle of overworking. It has become normalized to a point where students have forgotten the negative impacts not taking care of themselves has on their bodies.
As workload and extracurricular activities build, students rarely get time to focus on themselves. Trying to balance academics, other engagements like playing in a band and trying to maintain a social life is a struggle a vast majority of students face. Instead of normalizing that one should feel this way, students should know that their sentiments are real and working to an unhealthy degree is not, nor should it be, normal.
Personally, taking honors and AP classes and getting all my work done to the quality I want causes me to barely have time to think about myself and my body. Very often, the mindset of getting the task done is what drives me to finish it as a priority over my health.
Talking to each other about the amount of time we spent doing that one assignment and the loss of sleep we got as a result of it has become a usual part of our lives. Frequently, I think that high schoolers forget that they should have at least nine to nine and a half hours of sleep to be healthy. Since we complain about and exaggerate our lack of sleep and overworking habits with our friends so much, we don’t even realize what we are doing wrong.
At this point, it is seen as normal which it should not be; it should not be relatable to not take care of yourself. — Rachel Andreas
At this point, it is seen as normal which it should not be; it should not be relatable to not take care of yourself.
— Rachel Andreas
The normalization of overworking commonly creates the mindset that if one is not working to an unhealthy degree, they are not working hard enough. Seeing my friends constantly working hard induces the need for me to do the same and push myself to the limit. I find myself not feeling like my efforts are validated unless I go beyond what I am comfortable with.
Some may argue that discussing stress can be comforting to students and help them feel that they are not alone. But in my experience, the lack of voicing these struggles is not what is unhealthy, but the subconscious comparison of these struggles amongst students.
The numerous times I have heard people comparing the time they slept or the averages they have in a class is shocking. Even though we know it’s not a competition of who has it worse, the sense of satisfaction when you tell someone you struggled more than them is the root to invalidation and more mental health issues.
“I feel like everyone struggles with the lack of sleep and putting school over their health,” Coppell High School sophomore Rachel Andreas said. “At this point, it is seen as normal which it should not be; it should not be relatable to not take care of yourself.”
The best way to prevent struggles like these from becoming normalized is to take care of yourself. Participating in unhealthy activities does not mean you are working harder or that your achievements are more valid. Having a healthy and balanced lifestyle is what high school students should strive to achieve and the lack of it is not something to boast about.
In the future instead of agreeing and adding on to the comment of surrounding peers, ask yourself,
Are my struggles really something to be proud of?
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