WKU students discuss stress and burnout at virtual round table

A person walks the WKU campus on Monday, March 16.

WKU Student Affairs Graduate Association hosted a virtual round table discussion Monday to talk about burnout and stress management.

The discussion was led by Hayden Hobgood, a WKU graduate student and residential counselor at Gatton Academy, to give students a space to vent about the stress they are facing this semester and learn from each other.

Hobgood started the discussion by encouraging students to take care of themselves and asking how often we should practice self care.

Each member of the discussion was also given a chance to offer advice on what helps them cope with stress. Cooking and exercise were two of the main activities listed when it comes to stress relief.

Monica Burke, a professor in the department of counseling and the clinical coordinator for Student Affairs in Higher Education, briefly joined the discussion. Burke encouraged students to find ways to destress and relax to help their burnout.

“Find ways and moments to decompress,” Burke said. “You don’t have to do everything at one time, and you can set a schedule so you won’t become so overwhelmed. Go to the movies every now and then, go out to dinner, find moments to decompress, recharge and go back at it.”

Brett Middleton, a graduate student at WKU, said it’s important for him to take time to distance himself from the stress to manage his burnout.

“I just take time to do something that’s kind of mind numbing in a way, whether that’s going for a run, working out, playing a game or listening to music just to decompress from what’s going on and coming back at it with a new angle,” Middleton said. “If it reaches a breaking point that’s when you can start talking to people you know will take time out of the day to listen.”

Alcoholism and drug use were touched on, and the group agreed that while these substances can cause temporary relief, it is unhealthy to rely on external methods to clear your mind and relieve stress.

The discussion also centered around the way in which burnout can affect personal relationships, religion and job performance. The students all agreed that the burnout is hitting them this semester. They described burnout as a loss of motivation and being drained after long spouts of productivity. Everyone agreed they should be intentional in taking care of themselves each day in whatever way they can.

Hobgood ended the conversation by asking the students to promise they will do things to take care of themselves in the coming week.

“One thing I want to encourage y’all to do is to schedule out specific time this week to do something for yourself and decompress from the stress.” Hobgood said.

For more information about SAGA and upcoming round table discussions, visit their Instagram, @sagawku.

Maggie Thornton can be reached at [email protected].

Jacob Latimer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jacoblatimer_.