Wellness Wednesday: Preventing burnout | Opinion
As college students, there are many aspects in our environment that can lead to burnout. Burnout is exactly what it sounds like — an inability to accomplish things due to prolonged stress. Think about it this way: you’ve had the same batteries in your TV remote for a very long time and eventually they stop working. It was hard for me to distinguish between stress and burnout, but what helped me is defining stress as relating to over-engagement, whereas burnout we link to disengagement.
Burnout can negatively impact a variety of aspects in our life, including our school and social life. It can also impact our body, causing us to become more likely to get sick. For me, stress always leads to back aches or headaches. Due to these issues, it is a good idea to be proactive with burnout, which is why it is important to talk about early on in the semester. By building resilience and prioritizing self-care, you can prevent burnout, which will help keep you motivated.
The first thing you can try out to prevent burnout is recognize your symptoms and identify your stressors. Common symptoms include fatigue, detachment, lack of motivation and irritability. It’s important to take these signs seriously because it’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Listen to yourself and treat yourself with kindness and patience, it’s OK not to be OK. Analyze the factors in your life that may lead to burnout and ask yourself why they drain your energy.
Then, make sure to invest in the things that protect your energy! Stay away from anything that is toxic to you, whether it be a person, job or expectation you think you have to live up to. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and let go of anything that limits your growth, this includes the pressure you may place on yourself.
We try to incorporate cultivating a healthy mindset, body and environment for ourselves to help prevent burnout. Personally, we make sure to move our body daily and eat nourishing food that we enjoy. We also make sure to sleep the recommended 7-9 hours to optimize performance and to help recover from all the hard work done during the day.
It is also very helpful to stay connected with your loved ones, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. We aren’t meant to go through life alone. We like to engage in meaningful activities that make us happy and remind us of who we are, such as a sport or hobby. Our best advice is to figure out what gives you purpose and stick to it. It may not always be easy to stay motivated, but a positive mindset will help you pull through.
To prevent feeling overwhelmed, one of the best things you can do for yourself is plan ahead and take the time to be organized. Include self-care in your agenda and make time for yourself everyday. Don’t let it get to the point where you can’t take breaks because of procrastination. Plan to exercise healthy habits such as drinking water, exercise, journal or whatever it is that restores and reenergizes you. Practice relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. Organization is key to balancing life and this will help with stress management and time management.
Another thing you can try to combat burnout is to change your perspective. While this is much easier said than done, you can certainly start to take small steps to help! Remind yourself that you are more than what you can accomplish. If you tend to be pessimistic, train your brain to see things through a positive lens and look at the bigger picture. Choose small things to look forward to, whether that be coffee or going on a walk. Romanticize your life. Make sure that you limit the tendencies that stress you out or make you feel bad about yourself.
Lastly, remember why you do the things you do and remember why you started. The goal is to build the strength to confront any obstacles you may face so you can learn and move past them. Give yourself credit! Be proud of yourself; burnout will make it easier to lose sight of how far you have come. Let every morning be a reminder of how capable you are of doing hard things and get excited for what’s ahead. You will have more tools for preventing burnout if you live passionately and take care of yourself.