The trees are transitioning and midterms have officially entered the chat. If you don’t feel it already, burnout season is approaching as it seems to every year. What can we do to prevent this inevitable feeling of exhaustion? What truly leads to the feeling of burnout? Is it procrastination? Overworking or scheduling? Or does it go deeper than that?
Clarity to Burnout
There are many misconceptions surrounding the idea of burnout. Mainly, as students, it feels like burnout is driven directly by the content of our class or work experience, but what if there’s more to it?
Burnout is defined as the exhaustion brought on by repeated stress. But it goes deeper than that. Although it may feel the source of stress is singular, it almost never is. There are so many different components to being a student, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now experiencing work and academics in a hybrid location, the work-from-home lifestyle has blurred the lines of our work and who we are.
What can we do to prevent burnout beyond connecting with our support system or alleviating some of our workload? Burnout can be accentuated by working on tasks that you’re not passionate about or don’t necessarily find interest in. When we’re consistently giving time to projects that don’t resonate with us, it drains our energy.
Don’t worry, not liking your job isn’t going to send you into a life of burnout. There’s more to it. We can often find ourselves dealing with stressors without a support system. This increases feelings of loneliness or seclusion that can cause stress. On top of that, if we have a negative perception of our stress, or are simply choosing to look at situations with a “glass half empty” outlook, we’re more likely to feel the negative symptoms associated with burnout.
An attribute we can begin to acquire to cope with burnout is the ability to be self-governing. Having the ability to create our limitations and boundaries will help us to accurately reflect on the feelings associated with stress. By internally reflecting on what is exhausting us beyond our workload, we can effectively engage with solutions that work to our benefit. This internal reflection can expose your boundaries for yourself and your work. By requiring yourself to not work on weekends or never work past 8, for example, can help prevent stress and create an understanding of manageable limitations to reduce it.
There are so many influential factors to stress and burnout, but sometimes, after finals or midterms, it can feel inevitable. So what can we do to pull ourselves out of the ashes and release some of that stress to reduce our symptoms of burnout?
As mentioned as a preventative measure, having access to support groups or reminding yourself of the benefits you’re giving other people can help. Also, connect with those reflections of why you’re feeling burnt out in the first place. Address those attributes, and openly discuss them with those who are working around you. If you feel more stressed when thinking about your workload, maybe discuss that with your supervisor. If you feel overwhelmed when working with a specific co-worker, address your feelings with them in the hope of a compromise.
Lastly, give into self-care habits and take days off. It seems simple to say that, but be honest with yourself about not only how much time you’re giving yourself, but also the quality of that time. Make sure you’re tending to the needs yourself in ways you know will revive you. Also, go back to those limitations you set for yourself and make sure you’re sticking to them.
Burnout is more than just procrastinating our work and having to pull an all-nighter. It’s exhausting ourselves through multiple means of exertion. Preventative measures are available if we give ourselves the time to tend to them.
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