Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
8 Ways Students Can Deal With Burnout Signs
Published Nov 16th, 2020 & updated on Dec 7th, 2021
Picture this… finals are approaching, the semester is almost (finally) over, and soon you’ll be on a much-needed break. Ahhhhh how heckin therapeutic is that to think about! But there’s a catch: you’re struggling and you’ve got major burnout signs and you don’t even know how you’re gonna make it through the next 2 weeks.
It’s not just you. Student burnout is a common response to constant stress over time, probably thanks to a never-ending list of deadlines, group projects, essays and exams. And on top of all of that, you might also have a job, clubs, sports and other activities that keep you super busy. Not to mention – oh yeah – a personal life. It’s a balancing act and seriously, it can be sooo hard!
The terms ‘burnout’ and ‘stress’ are usually used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Burnout is actually caused by stress and makes you feel unmotivated, detached and cynical. Maybe you’re also having a hard time focusing and being productive. Forgetting things that are normally NBD (wait – did I leave my wallet at home again?!) can also be a sign. You could be feeling super irritable lately and like the smallest things are getting on your nerves (roommate forgot to replenish the tp = RAGE). Sound familiar?
But there are ways to deal with burnout, even if it feels like it’s impossible. Try these tips and before you know it, you’ll be back on track! And if you need to explore our ultimate guide to mental health for college students, here it is friends.
1. Get Enough Sleep
In case you needed a reminder: sleep. Your mind and body can’t function without enough rest. Easier said than done, right? You’re probably thinking: How can I even think about sleep when there’s so much to do and so little time and oh shit that’s due tomorrow??? Pause. Those assignments aren’t going anywhere, and neither are you if you don’t chill. the fuck. out.
Take a warm bath. Light some candles. Enjoy a cup of (decaf*) tea. Throw some clean sheets on your bed straight from the dryer. Do whatever helps you unwind and drift into a restful sleep. Figure out how to sleep better at night, and you’ll thank yourself later!
2. Talk It Out
Feeling totally overwhelmed? You’re not the only one! No, seriously, reach out to any friends that are fellow college students. It fucking sucks going through this alone and if you’re noticing burnout signs, chance are they’re dealing with the same shit. Talk to people you trust about what you’re going through. Opening up about your feelings will make you feel less alone and let out all of that anxiety you’ve been keeping inside.
3. Learn To Say No
The idea of letting people down sucks, but remember that it’s okay to say no to any additional tasks or responsibilities. If something is gonna overflow your schedule and make you more stressed, it’s just not worth it! When your boss asks you to take an extra shift but you have an exam the next morning, it’s okay to say no. Especially if they pull out the whole “K I guess we’ll have to survive without an extra person on the floor.” Or when your school club asks you to plan the next meeting but you’re drowning in assignments, again – it’s okay to say no! (and if you need to learn how to say no without feeling guilty, we’ve got the perfect read for you)
4. Ask For Extensions (Ahead of Time)
As a student, time management is super important. But if you see a conflict in your schedule (aka 3 midterms in one day and a paper due the next), talk to your profs. See if any accommodations can be made! And if you communicate with your professors ahead of time, your chances will literally double. They’re people too (which students often forget) and the last thing they want is to look at your handsome mug and see burnout signs. If you notice tons of overlap in your academic calendar, see if you can work it out with your instructors. Just do it sooner than later!!
5. Make Time For Yourself
It’s easy to get so caught up in the #studentlife that you forget you still have other interests. Make time for study breaks to watch your favourite show or go for a run – whatever you enjoy doing in your downtime! That 3000-word essay will come along much easier once you’ve cleared your head.
6. Cancel Your Plans, It’s Okay
If you don’t have enough time to do everything, it means there’s waaay too much on your plate. Having a social life and seeing your friends is important, but so is your wellbeing. And if going to that meet-up is gonna set you back and stress you out even more, it’s not worth it. Your friends have probably been there and will totally understand. Make plans to get together once you’ve handed in that big assignment or aced that exam – you deserve to celebrate!
7. Set Realistic Goals
By now, you probably already know how to set goals so we’ll leave you with this piece of advice instead. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Don’t try to cram in everything at once – it’ll only set you up to fail and you’ll feel even worse! Be realistic when it comes to setting goals for yourself. And it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead! If you know what your limits are and what you can manage, you’ll be on the right track.
8. Remember Why You’re Here
When you’re in overdrive, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re here in the first place. You have goals. Dreams. Ambitions. And maybe most importantly: passion. Remember that word? The thing that made you choose to pursue an education so that you can do what you love for a living/become an expert in your field/just because you wanted to learn more??? It’s still there. Right now, it’s just buried under 8 cups of coffee and -2 hours of sleep.
Take a moment to look at the bigger picture. Why is it that you’re working so hard to finish that one essay? What is it that pushes you to study for every single little quiz? What do you aspire to think and do and feel when you’ve completed your degree? Hold on to that feeling.
Igniting that fire again will remind you that all of your hard work is not for nothing. We don’t want you to ignore your burnout signs and just push through anything and everything…that’s notttt healthy. We’re not here to support the grind culture. But we are hoping that these 8 suggestions will help you manage your list of 8,968 things to do before you get to that burnout stage!