Burnout is a very real phenomenon, and it doesn’t just happen to lawyers, doctors and high-flying businessmen. It can happen to college students too, and during a stressful senior year in particular. And yet despite that, few are aware of the risks of burnout, and it’s far from common for educational institutions to offer support.
That can leave you feeling as though you’re trying to deal with burnout all alone, and that can make the situation even worse. On top of that, if you don’t take some time to deal with it, the situation is only going to get worse. That’s where this blog post comes in.
What is burnout?
Burnout is what happens when we push ourselves too hard and end up overworking ourselves and taking on too much. It can leave you feeling stressed, exhausted and unmotivated, and that can have a real impact on your grades and your academic performance. In extreme cases, it can lead to people dropping out of college completely.
In the workplace, employee burnout is costing the global economy £255 billion, because it cuts down on productivity and leads to people making mistakes. It can also cause physical changes in your body and damage your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, flus and other illnesses.
Spotting the symptoms of burnout can be difficult, because it’s often a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees. When we’re so heavily focused on what’s happening in our day-to-day lives, we can fail to see the warning signs until it’s too late.
What causes burnout?
The key to burnout prevention and treatment is to understand what causes it so that you can take steps to avoid it. As a general rule, burnout is usually caused by taking on too much work, putting yourself under too much pressure and ultimately working so hard that you have a minor breakdown.
A lot of factors contribute to burnout, and for college students this can range from essay writing and revision to money worries and more. Anything that can add pressure and stress can contribute to burnout, and this includes social factors and financial factors, as well as just academic worries.
These problems can also be exacerbated by other pre-existing problems such as mental health issues including anxiety and depression. When all of these factors come together, they can cause a perfect storm, leaving you in a downward spiral where you get worse and worse.
Ways to prevent burnout
A key part of preventing burnout is the ability to spot the early warning signs. That way, if you can sense that it’s on the way, you can take steps to avoid it. Common signs include a lack of motivation, exhaustion and the inability to sleep. Insomnia is particularly difficult to deal with, because it can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy in which you can’t sleep because you’re worried and you’re worried because you can’t sleep.
You can also work on building a self-care toolkit, whether that’s through meditation and deep breathing or whether it’s through ordering takeaway food and watching a DVD box set. Establishing these tools is important because you need to know that they’re there so you can use them when you need them the most.
Preventing burnout is better than treating it once it’s already a problem, so take regular breaks from the work that you’re doing and make sure that you schedule some time so you can relax and spend some time doing what you love. If you need to, ask a friend or a roommate to hold you accountable and to make sure that you don’t push yourself too hard.
You also need to know what to do when it’s too late and burnout is already a problem. Recovery isn’t as simple as just taking a day off, in part because burnout can have long-term health effects. In the workplace, it can lead to people needing to take medical leave for weeks or even months on end. This means that the same can hold true at college, and you might need to take some time out from your studies as you try to get better.
Now you know how to handle burnout, you’re well equipped to take steps to take care of yourself. With a bit of luck, you’ll never have to deal with it, but it’s important to know how to prevent and recover from burnout so that if it ever does happen, you’ll know how to minimize its impact.
In the meantime, remember to take regular breaks and to look after both your mental and your physical health as much as possible. Remember that prevention is better than the cure and that the best way to head it off is to take some time out instead of working yourself into the ground. Good luck.