Avoiding Reading Week burnout

It’s Reading Week in the University of St Andrews, and we’re sure for most students this break from classes couldn’t come at a better time. MUSA volunteer blogger, Adam Polánek gives some sage advice on how to prevent burning out mid-semester.

St Andrews is among the most picturesque of towns – the Scores, East Sands, West Sands, the Lade Braes park. However, one sooner or later runs out of places to explore and fully enjoy (though I admit, toastie bar is an evergreen). The town begins to feel too confined. This happens mostly because of how we fear missing out on the ‘outside’ world, how used to distractions and new impulses we are. Without any intellectual authority on the subject, I want to propose a handful of possible cures to burning out in St Andrews, especially in the first semester, when the night falls at 5 and being tired seems to be the default setting.

Digital detox  This might sound counter-intuitive, surely when the town feels too small, the answer is online escapism? Still, I cannot stress how helpful it is to refrain from technology for few days. Of course, such luxury is not always affordable, but setting a limit to how much time one spends on their phone is a good start. There are countless studies proving how digital detox helps mental health, not to mention the extra time it provides. And if you are brave enough (I am not), I would suggest deleting some social media accounts.


New pastime  Being burned out mostly means being dissatisfied with current routine. It is never too late to join a society, but one does not need other people to find entertainment. Writing letters to loved ones, learning a poem by heart, or engaging in a political campaign are among many possible fruitful distractions.

Changing sites  Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow are nearby places with unique atmospheres. A day off helps with emotional recovery, and can also be a reminder of just how homely and familiar St Andrews is upon return. If there is no time or budget to leave the town, I recommend going to the Botanic Garden – the entry is free for students and there are only few moments as precious as getting lost there with a book. The Bell Pettigrew museum in the Bute Building is open to students during the week for study space and to immerse yourself in this collection of weird and wonderful taxidermy animals.

Those are only few suggestions, some of which worked for me, that are in no way universal. If none of those are relevant and life feels overwhelming, do not be afraid to reach out for help: there is Populus, St Andrews Nightline, the Chaplaincy and Student Services. We cannot be ecstatic always, but being here should feel as worry-free as possible. It is only then we can enjoy what this town offers. Let us not forget there is a lot.

About Adam Polánek

Adam is a second year student of English and Art History. He is interested in both historical and contemporary political implications of art. In his free time he is mostly writing, ballroom dancing, or organizing events with Amnesty St Andrews.


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