Academic burnout and how to avoid it


Academic burnout is defined as “a feeling of exhaustion due to high academic requirements and demands”. Academic burnout has always been present in relation to anything pertaining to school, but in recent years its become more of a prominent issue.

How to identify burnout within yourself: 

A dead give away that you may be experiencing burnout is the feeling of lack of accomplishment. The feeling of lack of accomplishment can lead do a loss of interest in school work. This snowballs into the feeling of chronic stress, without the proper motivation to apply yourself to your school work leads to half attempted or even missing assignments. If you ask almost anyone who has ever been a student they will most likely confirm that there is nothing quite as stress inducing as a plethora of unfinished assignments waiting to be done by an impending due date.

When talking about burnout almost anyone you talk to will almost immediately bring up mental health. As important as mental health is especially in relation to burnout its also important to understand the physical symptoms as well as the emotional. That splitting headache you experience everyday in eighth period may not have such a simple explanation as hunger and may be more related to the chronic stress an individual endures when suffering from burnout.

Is it burnout or stress? 

Burnout and stress are easy to mistake for each other as they share many of the same characteristics. Stress is the act of being overly engaged while burnout is withdrawal and the lack of engagement. Another key factor in being able to differentiate the two is when your stressed it produces a sense of urgency while being burnout you temporarily lose the ability to feel that urgency that is associated with stress and instead feel hopeless.

How to solve burnout? 

You have identified that you are indeed suffering from burnout, now what’s the next step? How do you recover from this? The realization that you are indeed burnt out may seem impossibility overwhelming and understandably so, but there are very viable ways of digging yourself out of the hole that is burnout.

Identifying what triggered the initial stress that sent you down the rabbit hole that is burnout is a crucial part of fighting it. The trigger may be related directly to an academic source or be something completely unrelated occurring in your personal life. Identifying the trigger will help you start to recognize the changes to make in order to leave your burnout in the past.

The changes necessary may be small and seemingly insignificant, but once put into action make a world of difference when applied to your everyday life. The change may be as simple as compiling a list of assignments you need to do each night if your more of a visual person. The changes may be more significant and harder to apply to your everyday life. Adjusting your self talk may be a change an individual suffering from burnout may need to look into. Self talk in your internal dialogue for simplicity sake it how you talk to yourself. Establishing a positive self talk is all around beneficial not only for helping combat burnout but to prevent it. Self talk is not a simple thing to change and takes abundant time and effort if you hope to see a change within yourself but it’s well worth it.

How do you go about changing your own inner dialogue when it’s something you do subconsciously. As simple as it sounds listen to yourself, are you being overly critical? Being overly critical of yourself is an easy thing to do but in  reality it’s almost never an appropriate reaction. Think about what you say to yourself through and ask questions like are you overreacting? Asking these questions can help you access what is based in reality and what is an overreaction.In lack of better words if you are suffering from what you believe is burnout be patient and kind to yourself even if it’s much easier to get overwhelmed and overly critical of yourself.

Reaching out for help is always an option when your feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to go from where you are. Reaching out for help can be communicating with your teachers that you are currently struggling with keeping up with your assignments or taking time to talk to guidance. Just talking to an individual you trust can make a world of difference whether it be a trusted adult or a friend. Speaking to a trusted friend can make you feel less alone and you might even discover your not the only one who has been combating burnout.

Paying attention to your needs during this time is perhaps one of the most important part of recovering from burnout if the most important. Taking care of yourself comes in many different forms and looks different for everyone. The question is what does it look like for you? Perhaps its making it a priority to get enough sleep every night, taking time to workout or planning nutritious meals. Taking care of yourself isn’t just about taking care of your physical health it’s also about your mental health. Taking care of your mental health looks different for everyone for some it’s beneficial to stop and take a break and have some alone time for others its all about stimulation and interacting with others. It’s a very personal thing that should be tailored to you and nobody else.

Burnout can affect anyone and is not just a problem for students to worry about but even teachers can experience it. Anyone who experiences stress can be burnt out which mean you likely interact with individuals experiencing burn out every single day. Which means discussing it with someone who may understand as uncomfortable as it may seem is more possible then you may have believed. Perhaps you can take comfort in knowing you are far from the only one you know struggling especially in light of recent events and how education was effected by it.