It’s that time of the year: finals, holidays, travel, family, and a whole slew of stuff that can stress even the most-chill of souls. Sure it’s time to push hard and wrap up this year feeling solid about school and studies and campus activities but there is a very real danger of pushing too hard and burning out. Burnout can leave you unprepared for finals and unable to enjoy your time at school or to fully relax on break. It can also take a serious toll on your emotional well-being and your physical health and immune system. Many students experience burnout as they cram for exams or prepare elaborate projects. If you’re at risk of burning out, put these seven strategies into practice.
1) Take Care of Your Health
If you don’t take care of yourself, your burnout symptoms will become even more pronounced. Writing for Seattle PI, Ralph Heibutzki emphasizes the importance of getting plenty of sleep, eating a healthy diet, and participating in physical activity. When you combine this magic three of self-care, you’ll find yourself better prepared to face psychological and emotional challenges as well as physical hurdles. You’ll also generally feel better all around.
2) Refine Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
If you set goals that you can’t realistically achieve, you may experience burnout because of scrambling for the unattainable and your subsequent disappointment and perceived failure. To avoid this problem, set practical goals that reflect your skills, abilities, and available time. Revisit your goals on a regular basis to determine whether you need to change them. For instance, if you experience burnout signs right before a test, you might need to start studying sooner so you have more time to devote to it.
3) Avoid Other Stressors
Sometimes academic burnout becomes exacerbated by other stressors in life. To avoid burnout, make sound financial decisions, surround yourself with positive people who help you bring out your best, avoid conflict with peers and teachers, and don’t poison your system with excessive alcohol (a known depressant). You’ll free up more time and energy to focus on academic pursuits and nail this semester.
4) Reduce Distractions
Streaming TV and movies, being active on social media, and taking a million online tests and quizzes can be distracting. Sure, they all have a time and a place but now is not that time as before you know it, you’ve just binge-watched all of the Fast and Furious movies and been told by BuzzFeed that the vegetable you most resemble is an eggplant. None of this is going to help you on that sociology exam tomorrow. Instead of falling prey to media distractions, focus on activities that help you feel more calm and in control. You’ll have more time to study and you’ll waste less time on activities that drain your brain.
5) Better Manage Your Time
If you eliminate distractions from your life, you’ll find it easier to manage your time wisely. It’s also important to set up a schedule for studying, working, relaxing, and sleeping. Fit it all into your daily routine so you don’t feel like you’re losing control of your priorities. Once you find your time-management groove, you’ll establish a routine that will see you through the times when burnout is a real threat.
6) Find a Support System
Whether you you FaceTime with your mom for three minutes every morning or you organize a weekly lunch with your best friends at school, you need a support system. If you start feeling burned out, it helps to turn to a compassionate ear. The right friends, family members, or even professors can provide valuable advice and guidance so you don’t feel as though you’re facing these challenges alone. You don’t have to go all TMI but do try to open up to someone you trust and who has your best interest in mind.
7) Seek Professional Guidance
There is nothing wrong with seeing a counselor or therapist to help you deal with burnout. A professional knows the tools and resources that can help you minimize stress in your life and achieve your goals at the same time. Most college campuses have counselors on staff to meet with students. Alternatively, you could see someone privately off campus. There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, doing so is a sign of strength.
College and burnout often go hand in hand. Being aware of the signs and triggers allows you to anticipate problems and recognize the symptoms before things get out of control and you find yourself panicked or totally unprepared. If you are prone to burnout, don’t suffer in silence. Instead, find proactive ways to help yourself cope then seek support and guidance from others who can provide helpful (positive but honest) feedback.