Dealing With Burnout

By: Laura Amodeo

This blog has been reviewed by Pariza Fazal and Catherine Cimon-Paquet; edited, formatted and published by Nicholas Murray.

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As many of us students know, it can be very easy to get overwhelmed during the semester, especially during midterms and finals. Most of us have part-time or full-time jobs, have responsibilities at home, are engaged in some volunteering activities or even might be dealing with some health issues. If we don’t learn how to manage our time properly or take care of our mental and physical health, this can lead to extreme stress, depression, or even burnout.

What is Burnout?

Burnout can be defined as feeling physically and mentally exhausted due to being in a long-term period of stress². There are many cases where burnout might emerge: excessive responsibilities, a busy schedule, a perception of high expectations at work or school, or lack of social support¹. A burnout may manifest in many ways. For example, feeling drained often; loss of motivation; physical pain; isolation from others; finding unhealthy ways to cope with stress; feeling helpless; having a negative outlook and having a sense of failure; and, or defeat³.

My Burnout

I experienced my first burnout earlier this year in January. During the end of the 2021 winter semester, I thought it would be a good time to start doing some volunteering to get experience in the field I am studying in. I took part in a total of 5 volunteer positions while being a full-time student. Just my volunteering positions alone took about 15 hours of my week. I thought I would be okay to handle this, as I was almost finished my semester and that summer would be starting soon. To me, if I were able to balance these volunteer positions, two part-time jobs and one summer class, it would prepare me to balance it with an additional 3 classes in the fall semester.

I was unfortunately wrong about this. Since I never really took “a break” from the winter semester to the fall semester, I was in overdrive for way too long. At the beginning of the fall semester, everything was okay, but then I started to get really tired and everything was an effort for me, even taking care of myself. When I tried to do any volunteering or school work, I would find it impossible to concentrate. I couldn’t even put effort into activities I enjoyed, which in turn affected my happiness as well. I would also get constant headaches, as well as feel immense anxiety and pressure due to the accumulating work I had. I became really forgetful and everything felt out of control. I usually always like to stay on top of things despite slight procrastination, so this made me feel very irritated and discontent with myself. Fortunately, I was able to finish the semester with some satisfactory grades, but the mental state I was left in passed on into the following semester (Winter 2022).

Winter 2022 was by far the worst semester I had had. I ended up dropping the most difficult class I was enrolled in, right before finals so I could focus all my remaining energy and time on my other classes. That was already a struggle itself, but it made me realize the mental state of complete exhaustion I was in; I knew I had to do something about it. I ended up dropping a few of my volunteering positions and one of my part-time jobs and decided not to take any summer classes to regain my mental and physical strength over the summer.

Tips to Overcome Burnout

Here are some of the tips that are currently helping me overcome my burnout, and could hopefully help you avoid one as well:

  • Set a timer for you to work and when it goes off, make sure you take your well-deserved break⌃4.
  • Track your mood throughout the day. If you are feeling more exhausted than usual, it’s probably a sign you’re doing too much⌃4.
  • Set some boundaries with your job (if possible) on how many responsibilities you can take on at once. If possible (given your living situation), cut back on work hours if necessary⌃5.
  • Be compassionate with yourself. We are humans, not robots. Hustle culture is extremely toxic, so do what makes you happy and be kind to yourself⌃5.
  • Find some resources to help you out; such as the book called “Burnout” by Emily and amelia Nahoski.
  • Finally, get some social support through a friend, family member, romantic partner, or a health care provider such as a nurse or a therapist. You don’t need to go through this alone⌃5.

In conclusion, going through burnout can be very stressful and draining, so it is very important to take care of your mental and physical well-being. They are both equally important and both affect our everyday lives.

If you haven’t already, please consider getting your Canadian Positive Psychology Association membership to join our wonderful community and check out our Student Zone! Plus, if you liked this blog or if it has helped you in any way, please take a moment to like, share, or comment!

References

  1. Know the signs of job burnout. (2021). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642
  2. Melinda. (2018, October 23). Burnout Prevention and Treatment. HelpGuide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm
  3. 4 Steps to Beating Burnout. (2016, November). Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2016/11/beating-burnout
  4. Chatterjee, R. (2021, March 18). Burnout Isn’t Just Exhaustion. Here’s How To Deal With It : Life Kit. NPR.org. https://www.npr.org/2021/03/08/974787023/burnout-isnt-just-exhaustion-heres-how-to-deal-with-it
  5. Raypole, C. (2021, September 9). Burnout Recovery: 11 Strategies to Help You Reset. Healthline; Healthline Media. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/burnout-recovery#signs

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