B U R N O U T 1 0 1 // what it is and how the fuck to fix it
So, you’ve been really stressed/anxious/exhausted and all of a sudden you’re feeling unmotivated/apathetic/frustrated? Congratulations, it’s looks like you’ve burned yourself out!
What is burnout?
Normally, burnout occurs after an extended period of excess. The breaking point is different for everyone; some may cave after a week of finals, for others it may take months or even years. Symptoms of burnout include, but are not limited to:
- Short attention span, difficulty concentrating, switching between tasks frequently
- Frustration with others, your work, or yourself
- Depression, low mood, anxiety
Shit, that’s me! How do I solve it?
- Start small, and ease yourself back into the swing of things
- Make note of the stuff you absolutely unavoidably have to to do with immediate urgency. Order in terms of immediacy as well as workload. So give credit for tasks both urgent and time consuming. If it doesn’t need to be done (either partially or completely) right this very minute, don’t worry about it.
- Break big tasks down into little tasks and tackle them one at a time. Reward yourself upon completion, but keep it reasonable. One episode of Parks and Rec is okay; a whole series is not.
- Reestablish a routine
- As insanely fantastic as it is, laying in bed all day is not going to get you anywhere. Set a routine, and stick to it; wake up at a consistent time and actually get out of bed, accomplish a few things each day (but they don’t have to be academic - laundry, taking a walk or vacuuming your bedroom) and stay out of bed except for when you’re sleeping.
- Naps are ok too though, but keep them short and don’t start after 3pm because you won’t be able to get to sleep at a human hour that night.
- Take care of yourself
- Give priority to maintaining healthy and normal sleep, eating, and self-care habits. You’re going to be useless if you’re exhausted, hungry, and grimy.
- Try to identify why you’re burnt out. Yes, you had two weeks of back-to-back exams. But is there anything you could have done differently? Could you have started studying earlier, made revision materials as you went, reduced or delegated other commitments? While this isn’t necessarily cure for burnout, it’s crucial to preventing another episode further on down the line. And after all, they say prevention is the best medicine.
- Ask for help!!
- Counsellors (academic and therapeutic) are there for your use. Take advantage of them, especially if they’re provided free of charge by your institution! They’ve got a lot of experience, and could impart some seriously useful wisdom about managing workloads, maintaining your sanity and resources if you really are struggling.
- Supportive family; not everyone is lucky enough to have one, but if you do, make sure they know you’re under duress and see if they can help in anyway - letting you get off chores or offering to help with your place if you’ve moved out, providing sustenance, or just offering an ear for you to moan and rant and talk it out.
- Make sure there’s nothing underlying that’s causing your anxiety/depression/low mood, and if you suspect there is talk to your doctor!