Chill Out Before You Burnout!
So, what is burnout?
Have you ever felt so drained to complete a simple task? Fearing upcoming deadlines, but at the same time, having no sense of urgency or motivation to make progress? Burnout is when you feel emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted which is caused by excessive and prolonged stress. You may feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to meet constant demands. What may be a fun or simple activity to you at first, may slowly become a burden as you begin to lose interest and motivation in it.
Burnout can affect both overworked workers and even students! So, if you’re a student, your burnout usually stems from prolonged periods of school-related stress. It refers to students’ feeling of debilitation, pessimism, and low self-efficacy (Norez, 2017). If not managed properly, student burnout may lead to depression, physical illnesses, and lower retention rates in schools.
Common triggers of student burnout
- Heavy academic workload.
- Studying away from home.
- Receiving lower grades than usual.
- Struggling to make friends.
- Feeling isolated due to remote learning.
- Struggling with student debt.
Lately, it feels so hard for me to get up from my bed and start the day. I’m not even sleepy, I’m just so tired from trying so hard.
If yes, this might be an early sign that you’re experiencing burnout. Burnout is a gradual process. It might seem like nothing or a small matter at first, but it can progressively get worse if left untreated. The early signs are like red flags in a relationship! The more you ignore them, the more toxic your relationship with your body will feel.
There are three main symptoms of burnout:
- You feel exhausted. Feeling drained and emotionally exhausted. Heck, you may also face physical symptoms. For example, you may feel tired to wake up thus skipping meals, which in turn leads to an upset stomach. The more severe the burnout, the more severe physical symptoms people experience. It is important to take care of yourself when you feel burnt out as it may affect both the mind and body.
- You feel detached.
“Why do I find it so hard to complete this simple task?”
“Why do I have so much work to do? I don’t enjoy this anymore.”
Decreased motivation and interest are often the first signs of burnout. You may find your tasks so much more difficult compared to before. You no longer have the drive and motivation to work towards your goals and may even reconsider your future altogether.
- Your productivity decreased. Ever find yourself re-rereading the same sentence over and over again yet still have no clue what it’s about? In general, your thinking process seems to have slowed down and you feel like you’re not good enough. Altogether, this leads to poor outcomes such as getting lower grades than usual.
Exhaustion or Burnout?
Exhaustion is a normal reaction to stress, and not necessarily a sign of disease. Physical illnesses or certain medications can cause symptoms such as exhaustion and tiredness too. One easy way to figure out if you’re facing burnout is when your symptoms are persistently caused by work-related factors or stress outside of work, such as studying during exam week.
“Okay, I know now that I’m burnt out. How do I cope with it?”
Here are the 3 most effective ways we found that can help you cope with burnout, also known as the 3Rs.
Now that you’re aware of the symptoms of burnout, you have already practised the first step– recognising your symptoms. It is important to take note of any changes in your mental, physical, and emotional states. Perhaps you tend to sleep for longer periods or you become more tense.
Reverse the damage with these healthy and effective coping strategies:
- Seek help. Depending on your symptoms, you can seek help from your parents, general practitioner, friends, college counsellor, or mentor.
- Meditation. Meditation calms your mind and grounds you. Because of this, it’s ideal for students that experience high levels of stress and anxiety.
- Breaks. If you can take time off from work or school, use it to recover from burnout. If not, make sure to take regular breaks throughout the day to avoid overworking.
- Hobbies. Spending time on something that brings you joy, especially creative and physical activities, can help you effectively cope with student burnout
3. Build Resilience
- Gratitude. Expressing gratitude helps you generate positive emotions and trains your mind to see the silver lining in every situation (It will be OK!)
- Socializing. Burnout often leaves you isolated. As such, developing stronger social bonds with your peers, friends, and family can help you effectively manage stress and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
- Journaling. Setting time aside each day to journal can help you know yourself better. What’s more, you can record your achievements to boost motivation and develop a sense of accomplishment.
Prevention is better than cure, of course.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparing your performance and grades to others can make you lose confidence and induce anxiety, which can lead to student burnout.
- Follow your passions. Choosing a study field that interests and excites you can keep you motivated, thus minimising the risk of student burnout.
- Learn your limits and boundaries. Don’t push yourself too hard.
- Avoid procrastination and keep track of deadlines to avoid cramming too many tasks at the very last minute.
- Don’t ignore the warning signs. If you notice any changes in your body or mind, take them seriously before they blow up into a bigger problem.
- Set realistic goals. Setting reasonable goals and expectations for yourself can effectively help you avoid overworking, disappointment, and student burnout.
- Break down your assignments into smaller, manageable tasks to avoid being overwhelmed.
- Immerse yourself in nature. Go for walks during breaks!
- Make time for yourself no matter how busy your day is. Yes, you should most definitely get a drink from that new matcha place you’ve been eyeing. You deserve it!
Burnout can be an isolating experience for some, especially if you feel like you don’t have anybody to talk to that understands how it has impacted you.