July 18, 2023, by Aisia Lea
Dealing with and Overcoming Burnout
Burnout is something that many students experience at some point in their university career (as well as into the working world). Burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress”. There are many things that can contribute to a feeling of burnout: a build-up of academic commitments, not taking enough time for yourself, being overwhelmed by the workload, and not practicing self-care adequately. When you experience burnout, this can be a really isolating feeling, but it shouldn’t be, because so many people before and after you have and will experience burnout, but few people actually share how they’re feeling.
Burnout can be accompanied by a feeling of imposter syndrome. This is a feeling of inadequacy or being a fraud, that you don’t belong or deserve the place that you have gained at your university. You may feel as though everyone around you is more qualified and that you are only in your experiences. This isn’t the case. Burnout and imposter syndrome are both really common things to experience.
When you are feeling burnt out, this can manifest in a number of different ways: feeling tired or drained, feeling helpless, feeling alone, having a negative outlook on life, experience feelings of self-doubt, procrastinating, or feeling overwhelmed. These things can lead to your workload building up as well as isolating yourself from your friends and family. This can all lead to worsening feelings of burnout, and if this is not addressed, it can cause the development of more severe mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Anyone can experience burnout, whether that be career-induced or induced by caring responsibilities. The best way to overcome burnout is to identify the early signs of it and mitigate it before it can develop completely. Burnout usually begins with you starting a new task with elevated level of ambition, this means that you push yourself to work harder and neglect your own needs in the face of this. It can reduce the amount of time that you have for things outside of your career or caring responsibilities, eventually leading to feelings of depression in severe cases.
Ways to prevent burnout include making time for exercise, taking breaks and getting some fresh air. This means that you’re taking some time for yourself as well as taking some time away from the task at hand. Next, you should make sure to take care of yourself more generally by eating a balanced diet and getting a good amount of high-quality sleep. Finally, it’s important to ask for help or support when you need it. There is no shame in doing so. Please refer to the University wellbeing page for advice on this. The most important thing to note is that you are not alone – and burnout does not need to be permanent.
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