The importance of taking a break: avoiding ‘burn-out’ during the Easter break
Balancing multiple assignment deadlines over Easter can certainly feel like a difficult feat to accomplish. It can be overwhelming to approach a mountainous quantity of work whilst simultaneously completing extracurriculars, applying for internships, working a part-time job as well as spending time with friends and family. Therefore, the pressures that stem from studying can easily lead one into a state of ‘burnout’ – that is, the feeling of complete exhaustion from attempting to juggle all of life’s aspects simultaneously.
Whilst it may be tempting to dedicate your days to solely studying or revising for exams, this is an infeasible and ultimately unhealthy plan that can lead to burnout. Personally, I know the feelings of guilt, anxiety and stress that may stem from taking some time away from studying. You might feel as though you are ‘wasting your time’ by doing other activities, or find that you are distracted whilst simply relaxing away from your laptop or your books. It is important to remember that factoring in time away from studying is a critical and helpful method to implement into your routine, and that these feelings are not a true reflection of your hard work and the effort that goes into your studies. You are allowed to exist outside of the ‘study sphere’.
Of course, there will be days where you study more intently, engrossed in a detailed essay plan, reading or past exam paper. This is completely fine too. However, it is critical to listen to your own body. A lot of the time, it can be easy to ignore tiredness or precursors to burnout, so make sure to keep a check on when you need to take a break. Incorporate breaks into your study sessions – there are study techniques such as Pomodoro that are useful to implement if you wish.
As well as this, I find that carving time out for exercise is critical to maintaining a balanced routine: going to the gym is something that really freshens my mind, and relieves some stress that I might be feeling about a particular assignment. To further add structure to my day, I like to write a to-do list on my Notes app each evening. This allows me to see clearly what I would like to accomplish in both my studies, as well as any other small tasks or errands that need to be completed.
Another method that I have implemented this Easter is drawing up a week-by-week study schedule for the entire break. In this schedule, I have written down specific word counts/targets that I want to reach in each assessment by the end of each week, taking the time to think realistically about what can be achieved. For example, on a particularly busy week that includes my birthday and some events with family and friends, I have reduced my workload. Then, in the weeks around it, I have adjusted accordingly, ensuring that I have factored in time to edit and plan each of my assessments carefully.
Talking with your friends and family is also incredibly helpful too. Letting them know about your increased workload, and that you may need some support during this period can help to alleviate some stress. Furthermore, I find that studying with my friends can instill a sense of camaraderie: remember, of course, that you are not experiencing these feelings and stresses alone.
Avoiding burnout can feel extremely difficult during university, especially with multiple assessments and the build-up to exam season. However, taking the time to mold your personal life alongside your study life is an invaluable tip that will allow both aspects to flourish over the Easter break. In these times where studying can feel very intense, I like to remind myself and draw upon all of the challenging study experiences in my life – all of the examinations and mocks and presentations which initially seemed impossible to overcome, but eventually were.
This too, is possible. You will finish that exam, that essay, that lab report, that dissertation.