Burnout is what happens when you’ve been studying non-stop for weeks with ongoing stress, impossible deadlines and no time to relax. Sounds familiar?
We all experience burnout eventually, having to balance projects, exams, social life, extracurricular activities and internships, but it’s how you deal with it that can make or break you.
Knowing the signs of burnout can help you find ways to alleviate and prevent further stress and frustration. These signs include reduced productivity, loss of confidence and motivation, sense of doubt and failure and decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
Here are some simple ways to deal with burnout and how to prevent it in the first place.
Set Realistic Goals
Setting unreasonable goals is one of the easiest ways to demotivate you and increase the negative feelings associated with large workloads. Imagine spending all day on a single task with no real progress. Not only does it foster negative feelings for yourself, you end up wasting a lot of time on a goal that will never be accomplished. What you can try to do instead is to make sure that your goals are achievable. They should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant And Time-bound.
Specific: Instead of saying you will study a particular topic, specify which areas of the topic you want to complete. For example, if you are studying reproduction, will it be plant or animal reproduction? Which sections of the syllabus will you be covering?
Measurable: Quantify your goals by making sure you are able to track your process. Do you want to cover all 10 points of the syllabus or just 5? Are you aiming for a 80% or a 70% on a practice quiz?
Achievable: Give yourself a reality check. If you have just started studying for an exam that is days away, you will not be able to study everything. Cover the topics that you feel are more relevant instead of trying to memorize an entire textbook.
Relevant: Your goals should align with your objectives. Should you be studying reproduction instead of Sustainability? Are points 1-5 necessary or are they just filler information?
Time-bound: Your goals should have time limits to keep you focused and on track. Do you have enough time to actually do all 10 points on the syllabus? Can you complete each subsection in 20 minutes?
Taking breaks is important for overall productivity, focus and your health. This includes taking a break from both your studies and from technology. Studies have shown that social media and internet updates can overstimulate you, furthering the feelings of negativity. Taking a break from technology may help to recharge you as well as free your mind from the responsibilities of the world. Research also shows that taking purposeful breaks from studying may help to refresh your brain and body, increase your energy, productivity, and ability to focus.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask For Help
There is no shame in asking for help. Sometimes we simply can’t overcome burnout on our own. Talking things over with a friend, family member or especially a professional can make a huge difference in how you perceive your stress and how you can deal with it. If you are struggling with a particular subject, ask a classmate or friend that is better suited to help you. Surrounding yourself with familiar faces may also be a huge mood booster that can get you back on the right track. The point is you do not need to struggle on your own.
A popular psychological trick to reduce procrastination that can also be applied here is to break large tasks into multiple smaller and more manageable tasks. If you are studying for a big exam, focus on one particular area at a time using your study technique, rather than focusing on multiple areas at once. It is a great way to increase positivity after you complete each task which is a stark comparison to the feelings of dread and dismay when you are unable to complete a single but complicated task.
Overcoming burnout may be difficult, but self-care is one of the most important aspects of dealing with its effects. Along with taking breaks, one of the most effective ways to prevent and overcome burnout is to create a space with you at the center. Nobody knows you better than you, so when you are feeling overwhelmed, take the time to engage in activities that are relaxing and recharging. Whether that’s listening to music, watching your favorite show, doing some cleaning, or going out for ice cream, do what needs to be done to get rid of the negativity and recharge yourself for the tasks you still have to do.
Oftentimes, burnout is a slow, gradual culmination of poor management skills and neglect rather than the sudden inconvenience we think it is. Even the most organized person can find themselves in this position. It is imperative then, that you prioritize yourself to try to prevent it by adopting smarter and more efficient ways to make your workload easier to handle.
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