Everyone has to deal with stress, and when you’re in college, you deal with more of it than usual. Balancing work, personal life, and academic expectations, college students are easily susceptible to feeling overwhelmed. Recognizing signs of burnout is imperative for keeping your head above water mentally, emotionally, and academically. Taking care of your mental health in college is so important, and while school is also important, you need to put yourself first. Keep reading for insight and advice on how to avoid burnout and how to deal with burnout if you have already been pushed to your limits! And while many schools are not back at school quite yet due to the current pandemic, those that are can find fresh, high-quality sorority and fraternity meal plans with UpperCrust Food Service! Contact us today to learn more.

What is Academic Burnout

Before diving into how to avoid it, let’s first briefly go over what burnout is and how you can avoid it. Academic burnout can be defined as a negative emotional, physical, and mental reaction to a prolonged study that results in exhaustion, frustration, lack of motivation, and reduced ability in school. It is the culmination of many weeks or months studying the same material or working on the same project, or from continuous years of schooling. This is not to be confused with the occasional feeling of frustration, or the everyday stress you get when you have been studying for hours on end, or the tiredness from pulling an all-nighter. Rather, it is more of a chronic condition from long-term study or school work that can seriously impact your academic performance and mental health. 

Organize Your Planner

This is one small step that can have huge impacts. Planners are not only useful for keeping track of everything you need to get done, or everything that is going on in your life, they are also useful for time management. Those who struggle to prioritize their tasks may be at a higher risk for burnout. A planner can help you manage your homework, class schedules, and other commitments. You may be a person who makes mental tabs of assignments, study group sessions, upcoming exams, and extracurricular activities, and if that works for you, great! Others, however, need to write these things down to visually have a layout of their upcoming days and weeks ahead of them to stay focused and on track.

Learn How to Say “No”

Young and ambitious college students sometimes may feel like they are letting others down or themselves down when they say “no.” We tend to accept challenges and opportunities that come our way because we either want to impress our peers or have a fear of missing out. Taking on more work or more responsibility, however, gives you the illusion of being more productive and talented when in reality, it can really start to overwhelm us and weigh us down. If we can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel with everything we are juggling, it can be hard to make it through the day, let alone the semester.

Sleep Because Your Sanity Depends On It

It is super easy, way too easy, to not get enough sleep in college. We have all been there — you’re at the library studying or writing a paper and you’re in the zone, or maybe you simply have too much to do, and you end up staying there until midnight or later. College culture glorifies the “all-nighter” mentality, making 12-hour study sessions normal when you have cups of coffee and cans of energy drinks. Being sleep-deprived can be a fun conversation starter, but there are actually no elements in our lives that are not improved by getting adequate sleep.

Sacrificing sleep might give you the illusion of productivity, but in reality, it can make it harder to focus, harder to study, harder to come to class mentally prepared and agile, can make you more frustrated, and more emotionally and mentally vulnerable.

Have Someone You Can Reach Out To

You may start to feel isolated as symptoms of burnout start to appear, which is a great time to actually reach out for help. You can reach out to advisors, instructors, family members, and even friends to talk about how you’re feeling and how you need help. While it may seem scary, talking to your teachers about feeling burned out can be a really good thing. More often than not, teachers will gladly help you break down large tasks into more manageable pisces, helping you create a time management plan you are comfortable working with. 

The last thing you should be thinking is that you are supposed to feel this way because college is supposed to be stressful. College is hard, but if your mental health is suffering, it’s not worth it to struggle through it alone. Reach out to your advisor to ask about available resources your school offers for burnout. 

Burnout Symptoms

Chances are good that you may start to recognize feelings of burnout as they come, but may not know that it is burnout you are feeling. Symptoms are manifested and can cause real, psychosomatic problems such as headaches, insomnia, and depression, which is why it is crucial to take steps to reverse burnout as soon as you can recognize the symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of burnout are:

  • Feeling exhausted no matter how much sleep you get
  • Lacking the motivation to attend classes or start assignments
  • Lashing out at others and increases irritability due to frustration
  • Lacking inspiration and creativity to bring to projects and class discussions
  • Loss of confidence in academic abilities
  • Incapability to meet important deadlines
  • Increases pain and tension in your body
  • Higher frequency of illness due to stress and exhaustion
  • Increase in bad habits such as overheating, staying up too late, nail-biting, or other habits you acquire when you are stressed
  • Inability to concentrate on schoolwork or lectures
  • Feelings of anxiety or depression

This list contains just a few ways to avoid burnout, there are tons more! It can be easy to sweep your mental health under the rug, but it is so important to take care of yourself. Never be afraid or ashamed to ask for help from those around you. 

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