Stressed is just Desserts Spelled Backwards: How to deal with burnout
I’m sure we’ve all been there- you’re exhausted, deadlines are beginning to pile up, it’s getting dark at 4pm, you’re really considering skipping your 9am lecture tomorrow and are beginning to wonder if you even want to be at university anymore (after all, who in their right mind would pay to be stressed and write essays?!). These could all be signs of burnout which is pretty common among students and can really suck the fun out of the university experience. Burnout is typically caused by intense feelings of stress for a prolonged period of time due to things like an intense workload or tight deadlines. Most students will likely experience burnout at one point in their life, however there are things you can do to prevent it and get through it.
The best cure to burnout is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Try not to let yourself get too overwhelmed (which I know sounds easier said than done) by staying on top of your work. Managing your time efficiently so that you are not rushing to complete things last minute, while also leaving time for hobbies and social activities can help you feel more relaxed in the long run. Physical exercise and eating well can also help to stave off some of the physical symptoms of burnout. Setting yourself unrealistic goals and being too hard on yourself can also contribute towards burnout. Instead, set smaller, manageable goals that are not too vague and, while challenging, are still doable. Taking good notes during lectures and recapping material as you go can also prevent you from feeling too overwhelmed when it comes to writing essays or taking exams. Furthermore, try to use your time productively so you can spread your workload out evenly, rather than letting everything pile up together at the last minute.
Spotting the signs of burnout early on is very useful, as the sooner you spot the signs, the sooner you can begin to recover. Burnout builds up gradually so if you find yourself becoming unmotivated, feeling exhausted, getting ill frequently, notice changes in your eating and sleeping habits or notice your grades are slipping then you should consider seeking help. Talking to people close to you such as friends and family and setting up a good support network can all help with the stress causing burnout. Alternatively, consider talking to a councillor about any concerns you have as they may be able to help you work through your thoughts and issues in a rational way
Make use of your lecturers’ office hours if you are feeling stressed about particular aspects of work or upcoming deadlines. They might be able to help you if you’re struggling with a certain topic area and need a bit of extra help. Furthermore, try to attend your lectures regularly. Sometimes, if you’re feeling unmotivated about your course or university in general, attending a really interesting lecture can sometimes help to remind you of why you chose to attend university in the first place and re-engage your interest in a subject.
If you are feeling very overwhelmed, it can be useful to take a step back from things. Sometimes we agree to take on more than we can actually handle which results in unnecessary stress which can then contribute to burnout. If you have a very busy schedule, consider cutting out some less important things to ensure that you have time to relax and give important tasks your full attention. While it may be tempting to stay up late every night to get things finished, a lack of sleep will make you feel worse and burnout faster. Make sure you get plenty of sleep to give your body time to rest.
Hopefully these tips will help you through this more stressful point of the term. It is important to take care of your physical and mental health, especially during stressful periods of life. I hope you all enjoy the rest of term as we move into the festive season.