We often hear of people in high-stress or challenging careers experiencing burnout like teachers, nurses or social workers. But what is burnout?
Burnout is more than just a lack of motivation, which everyone experiences from time to time. Burnout is a debilitating state that can happen after experiencing a large amount of stress over a long period of time. It can include frustration, chronic fatigue, emotional exhaustion, difficulty focusing, lack of motivation and a decreased sense of purpose about work. All of these symptoms can lead to a decline in job or academic performance.
The most common cause for student burnout is assignment overload – too much work from too many classes. Family issues, financial stress and outside jobs can also contribute to student burnout.
Burnout is preventable! Try some of these tips to reduce stress before it becomes debilitating.
- Take care of yourself! When we’re busy, we tend to stop our self-care practices. Try to schedule time to do something that nourishes your soul. Take a yoga class or go to a movie, guilt-free.
- Stay social. You may feel like you don’t have the time or energy for socializing with friends. Fight the urge to isolate yourself and make sure you spend time around other people. Connecting with others is essential to happiness and emotional health. Go to an event, schedule a dinner with friends or study with a classmate. If you’ve been neglecting your social life, make it a priority!
- Try meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a practice where you focus your attention and awareness on the breath. Meditation has been found in thousands of studies to help reduce anxiety, depression and stress, while increasing happiness and quality of life. Despite its simplicity, meditation is something that you have to practice! Start small and sit quietly with your eyes closed while counting your breath for 5 minutes or less. Try a meditation app to help you learn!
Recover from burnout
Maybe you’re already feeling burnt out. Recovery from burnout will take time and a dedicated effort to rebalance your mind and life.
- Decrease your responsibilities. Write out all of your commitments – classes, clubs, jobs, projects, relationships. Identify which items are absolutely essential, and cancel, drop, and say “no” to everything else that isn’t an absolute necessity. Talk to any clubs or organizations you’re involved with and see if you can reduce your responsibilities for a while.
- Reach out for help. This is the most important thing you can do! If your course load is unmanageable, meet with your advisor and ask for their help. If you have a job, talk to your supervisor about what you’re going through and see if there are ways they can help.
- Use campus resources. You’re not alone and there are many resources on campus and people who want to help! As a student you get access to free counseling through Counseling and Psychological Services. Our counselors can offer you a place to talk about your burnout and stress, as well as give insight into resources, services and support that is available to you.