If you got into college, there’s a good chance you’re a go-getter, someone with a can-do attitude who constantly tries to go above and beyond. That’s not a bad thing, but there’s a reason why many college students experience the burnout syndrome. A medical definition of burnout is hard to give because the phenomenon is still being studied. However, the experts at PubMed Health say continuous stress and pressure to excel may be the root cause of burnout.
Symptoms of burnout may include:
- Feeling mentally exhausted
- Feeling physically exhausted
- Feeling alienated and depressed
- Reduced productivity
- Difficulty concentrating
In students, burnout results from school-related tasks taking priority over self-care. If you’ve felt any of the symptoms of college burnout, there are some simple things you can do to feel better and to prevent burnout from happening again.
1. Organize your planner.
Planners are useful time-management tools. 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.
2. Stay inspired.
Choose a role model in your career field that inspires you and follow them on social media. Seeing someone succeed in the same job you wish to have can keep you motivated through tough times at school.
3. Use all your tools.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or burnt out, don’t fall for the idea that you have to solve all the problems independently. Most colleges offer counseling, career guidance, and academic support for free through various campus organizations. Search online for any tools your school offers that might help you.
4. Use course reviews.
One way to ensure your course load isn’t too heavy is to read course reviews before registering. Course reviews on sites like Rate My Professors can tell you how other students felt about the course and if any professors were better than others. Look out for professors who assign too much homework — you may want to take the course under a different professor.
5. Make flashcards part of your study routine.
Flashcards are a great tool for memorization. If you need to memorize vocabulary, definitions, or formulas, you should use flashcards as part of your study routine.
6. Create a study guide.
Study guides are another great way to study. If your exam includes short-answer or essay questions, writing a study guide will help you extract the big-picture concepts from your textbook.
7. Get a tutor or join a study group.
Another way to avoid burnout over too much studying is to study with a tutor or a group. Having another person to study with takes some pressure off your shoulders to learn everything independently. You can ask a tutor questions if you have trouble understanding a concept or use the synergy of multiple brains coming together in a group study.
8. Brighten your mornings.
It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning when you experience burnout. To brighten your morning, create a morning routine you enjoy. That might mean brewing your favorite coffee, showering with a great-smelling soap, walking your dog, watering a plant, or some other light-hearted task. If the first action of your morning is one you enjoy, you’ll be in a better mood for the rest of the day.
9. Set daily goals.
Small daily goals are extremely helpful in combating college burnout. One reason students burn out in the first place is unreachable goals. Getting straight As might sound like a good goal, but reaching that goal actually involves a bunch of smaller goals. Rather than focusing on the final grade, focus on the assignment. Set a daily goal for how many hours of study time you want to complete or which assignments you want to work on. A day-at-a-time mentality will take you further than a semester-at-a-time mindset.
10. Eat breakfast.
Breakfast is the day’s most important meal, and that’s not just an old adage. Overnight, the body’s storage of glucose and carbohydrates is used to keep the body functioning properly while sleeping. It’s important to replenish your glucose and carbohydrate levels in the morning to have energy for the day ahead.
11. Have “you” time.
Fit “you” time into your busy schedule to prevent burnout. College is a four-year balancing act, so you have to give yourself time to rest and recover. Take a nap between classes, visit with friends, and enjoy the weekends. Find a balance between responsibilities and relaxation.
12. Listen to music.
There are many health benefits of listening to music. When you feel overwhelmed by a mountain of homework, an approaching deadline, or extracurriculars, it can help to turn on your favorite song. Initially, music can distract from anxious thoughts, and listening to it for extended periods can improve your mood and decrease stress.
13. Get some fresh air.
Get some fresh air to clear your mind. Break up your study sessions with a walk outside, and you may feel recharged and ready to return to work afterward. When you spend time outdoors taking in the fresh air, you get more oxygen to your brain. This improves brain function, concentration, and motivation.
These 13 tips can help you prevent college burnout. If you’ve felt mentally exhausted or overwhelmed, these are small things you can do to start feeling better. Try some out, and share these ideas with any other students you know who might be dealing with stress and other burnout symptoms.