Burning out? Preventions and Help
With the joys and opportunities of university, there also comes the importance of learning a balance between studies, downtime, and other interests. I had this as a pretty hard lesson in the first few weeks of uni, taking on too much and eventually leading to a whole lot of stress and illness that could have been avoided for me. I thought I’d discuss a little below about what it might look like and what actions you can take to prevent or help with this!
Burnout doesn’t have a specific definition or diagnosis, according to InformedHealth, but it is the feeling of exhaustion due to severe stress, overworking, and other related causes. For people with busy lives, and many commitments, it can come through increase in time dedication and lack of relaxation opportunities, for example.
Please note: I am in no way a medical professional! This blog is purely personal experience, and if you feel like you may be struggling, please seek help through your GP or the university mental health services! 🙂
A very much non-stress inducing view! A remind that I use to breathe and take some time outside
Personally, I found myself struggling with this more than once in my first two years of university as I was trying to work out how to balance my time. In first term of first year, I took on many activities, alongside trying my best in classes, not sleeping enough, and not managing my diet as well as I could. This all started to pile up to the point of permanent exhaustion, lack of focus and struggle for motivation for anything, as if I had no energy left. Second year left me finding problems when run down with committee commitments for societies, alongside more academic pressure in my degree and stressing about part-time work and money. Let’s just say – it hadn’t been the most relaxing time of my life! I can’t quite use my words to describe the impact this had on me, but it certainly made everything so much more dififcult.
Luckily, I really managed to get a hold of that this last year and have truly taken the opportunity to reassess my priorities and actions to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
I’ve put a much larger focus on keeping my work balanced with social activities, and also getting enough sleep. Sleep has played a huge part in this, and time to myself. Whether that’s been through time in my room with a facemask and a good book, to heading to a coffee shop/restaurant for some time away from uni, it’s been a brilliant way to keep a private space and have somewhere to recover. I’ve also learnt a lot about not taking on too much – volunteering for various committees was very fun but I found myself taking on far too much. I should have thought more about how much time would really be needed for each one, and worked from that – but that’s what I have done this year by only taking on one position.
I’m planning on making sure that my division between uni, part time work, and sports is just as even this year; by making a timetable and setting out specific times to work, ensuring it isn’t too late into the evening and allows me some time to get out and relax!
Laughter is the best medicine? Spending time with friends has become a much larger priority this year
If I ever feel burned out
My plans for feeling exhaustion and that stress is to take the smallest steps to start on a path forward. I found this, for me, included cooking a meal involving little prep but still healthy (as my diet took a big hit during these times) and leaving the house. Whether that would be for a walk, a swim, or a coffee, just being able to leave the house and get fresh air is something that starts to help – it’s a goal of mine to ensure I leave the house at least once a day! (It sounds simple to do, and often easy without thinking about it, but during stress I find myself holed up inside to complete work). Other than that, making time for being wiht friends and ensuring a good nights sleep are high on my list of priorities. I found this difficult to manage at first, especially with stressors still going on throughout trying to fix it, but I’ve found it’s less of a black and white situation than I had first thought.
Mental and physical health are both super important things at university, and it’s key to not neglect either. There are various support services around campus, and the SU website here can direct you to campus and off campus support.
See you all soon!