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I am pretty sure you have experienced that you just can’t get to the end of your do-to-list and when you are done with an assignment finally, another one comes up. Your days are spent in constant stress because of your university work. You just feel tired mentally and physically and you can’t even relax properly. If you are experiencing any of this, you may want to read further and get behind the problem before your candle burns out.
Burnout is usually associated with jobs, however, it is also present in the academic fields – this is what we usually call academic burnout. As it is stated on the WHO website, burnout is caused by constant unmanaged stress, and academic burnout is the same. Also, the long years of studying should be mentioned as well, as burnout can occur when you are doing the same thing for a long period of time.
There are some signs of academic burnout which should not be taken lightly as they are warning you to take this problem seriously. In this video, lack of motivation in your academic performance, exhaustion, the inability to absorb more information or just to properly focus on something, and the increasing bad habits are mentioned as well. I would also like to add being easily irritated by simple things in life to the list. As someone who is experiencing the signs of burnout, I can confirm that it is completely true. Having healthy stress before a test or an assignment is completely normal, however, when you aren’t even motivated before the test, it should be a warning sign for you. Not having enough sleep is nothing compared to having enough sleep but still feeling like you haven’t even gone to bed. The loss of motivation and not seeing the purpose and results you expect in your work can also make you experience burnout.
Getting out of a burnout is not an easy thing, but do not fear if you are taking steps to prevent it. I am going to give you some tips I find really useful.
Time management is always the right solution
I know, I know. Time management seems to be always the right solution for every problem at university, but it is really crucial. Being able to have a good schedule AND being able to follow it is a master skill. I always found those who are ready with their assignments days before the deadline dangerous, but they are doing something right. If you have a lot of assignments or exams coming up, try writing everything down to see what is ahead of you. First of all, don’t get scared if it is a ton! Second of all, try categorising them by importance or by how long they will take you to make them. If you know that you need at least three days for an essay, try calculating it like that and push yourself gently into starting it in a reasonable time. Of course, it is also important to have a working study method or know what makes you productive.
Know your limits and how to slow down
If you look up tips about academic burnout, ‘saying no’ will definitely come up. But it is definitely true. You can overwhelm yourself as well and not only in an academic environment. Working and studying at the same time can be really stressful for example, and in these cases, it is great to know the limits. Also, it is great if you know when you are reaching your limit, and being able to just take a walk without worrying about anything for just one hour is the most powerful. I know, because I often found myself feeling guilty for not doing work and my relaxing stroll becomes an anxious speed walking session, worrying about the time ‘wasted’. When I actually manage to switch off my brain for that time, it has positive effects.
Don’t be afraid to reach out
Asking for help is something you should NEVER be ashamed of. Sometimes people think that feeling overwhelmed is something that everyone can experience and it is not a big problem compared to other people’s, but it is NOT true. Experiencing burnout is a problem and there can be consequences if you are not dealing with it properly. Isolating yourself from everybody is not a good solution. Just complaining to a friend or family member can help. Or just don’t be rude to them. If you are experiencing a serious burnout, a professional helper can also be the solution. The loss of motivation and being lost in your life can cause depression for example, but if you are willing to work on it, they can get you the help to get you out of it.