Preventing Study Burnout – OurWarwick

Preventing Study Burnout

In this blog, I discuss the importance of preventing burnouts and why it should be a key priority for you – in the same way that governments relentlessly try and avoid economic downturns. To prevent them, I suggest tackling studies with short bursts of focus, as well as strengthening your night routine to improve sleep.

Burnout is a destructive state of mind that we must prevent

Academic burnout is defined as a negative emotional, physical and mental reaction to prolonged study that results in exhaustion, frustration, lack of motivation and reduced ability. Although the severity of burnout varies, I am sure you have found yourself in a rut where one or more of these symptoms have plagued you. Understanding how to prevent burnout is paramount to maintaining stable wellbeing and productivity in your studies – particularly when the going gets tough.

Before I delve into how to prevent burnout, here’s a quick analogy. As an Economics student, I liken burnouts to Economic downturns. Responding to such slumps with ‘conservative fiscal’ measures will lead to Great-Depression-like situations whereas fighting them with more counterintuitive, ‘countercyclical’ measures can lead to a quicker recovery – as seen following the Great Financial Crisis.

Prevent Burnout through a tactical slow-down and better sleep

Some of the tell-tale signs of burnout might include feelings of exhaustion and lower levels of motivation that you’re used to. Preventing these symptoms from manifesting into more long-term ruts is critical in taking hold of these slumps.

Firstly, harnessing intense interval training is a powerful technique to prevent straining your mind. I like to use the Pomodoro technique, where you set down to focus and work for 25 mins and then get to relax for 5 mins, whether that’s snacking (try and keep it healthy), watching a few minutes of YouTube or going toilet/taking a short walk. This 25/5min structure actively works against the diminishing marginal returns to each extra hour of focus. Then, after a few “Pomodoros”, you can take a longer break and begin again.

Secondly, I cannot express how important sleep is. Although we usually can’t control whether we get a good night’s sleep, we can increase the likelihood of one through harnessing a night routine.

Many people focus on alarms to wake up that infringe on their sleep patterns. Although alarms are sometimes necessary, alarms can be destructive when not combined with building healthy going-to-sleep habits. Night routines need not be complex; they could include planning tomorrow on a sheet of paper (to avoid you worrying about forgetting something), reading 5 pages of a book, followed by prayer/reflection/meditation that slows down the mind.

Although we can try our best to prevent burnouts, when they hit, it is important to have a few tricks up your sleeve. I find exercise (as simple as going for a walk or run) while listening to an upbeat playlist can act as a powerful reboot (do not put a downbeat playlist to amplify your sorrows!). Also, having a shower, cooking and most important of all, figuring out a way to take time off are critical to the reboot – even for a few hours.

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