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6 Ways to Read Your Way Out of Student Burnout

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

I started my senior year in high school the right way, or so I thought: overscheduled. My school was a 25-minute drive from home, and after I dropped off the other student who carpooled with my sister and me, I had just enough time to cook myself some dinner and change my clothes before heading to work at the bakery (a 20-minute drive) for a 3-hour shift, except on Mondays. On the weekends, I’d put in 8 hours on Saturday and 6 on Sunday.

This wasn’t too bad until my usual after-school activities like chorus and the school newspaper ramped up in October, not to mention the demanding course load and college applications I was also juggling. One morning during homeroom, another student casually asked if I’d understood how to answer one of the questions in our trigonometry assignment … and I lost it. I burst into tears right there at my desk.

My homeroom teacher took me aside and encouraged me to ask my boss about cutting back my hours. That helped. I wasn’t so pressed for time anymore, and I had a little more freedom in my schedule for self-care. For me, self-care has always involved reading.

Maybe it seems counterintuitive to recommend that a busy high-school student try to carve out more time for reading in a schedule that’s already packed with it. But I discovered that one of the best things I could do with my limited free time was to lose myself in a story.

Try one (or several) of these strategies to read your way out of student burnout:

  1. Read at breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, right? Enjoy a few pages while your bagel’s in the toaster.

  2. Listen to audiobooks as you drive to school, practice, or your job.

  3. Read short stories! Catholic Teen Books’ Secrets, Gifts, and Treasures collections introduce you to some of the characters, settings, and situations in the authors’ longer works.

  4. Bring an ebook wherever you go. Download an e-reader app to your phone or tablet so you can have a book at the ready anytime you have a few moments to wait.

  5. Read about people like you. Leslea Wahl, Theresa Linden, Cynthia T. Toney, T.M. Gaouette, and Carolyn Astfalk write about modern-day teens facing real-life problems.

  6. Read about people from another time or place. Antony Barone Kolenc, Susan Peek, and Amanda Lauer’s tales take place in the past – and Corinna Turner sets her stories in the not-so-distant future.

Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz

About the author: Barb Szyszkiewicz is editor at and the author of The Handy Little Guide to Prayer.

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