My Experience Feeling Burnt Out—And Why It’s Not Just Stress

At the beginning of my second semester of sophomore year of college, I was juggling four classes, extracurriculars, a social life, and a job. I was in two clubs on campus that required I attend weekly meetings, write weekly articles, and I held an off-campus job tutoring elementary school children twice a week, on top of taking four classes that loaded me up with weekly problem sets. I was constantly running from class to work, from work to club meetings, and from club meetings to office hours. I had several interviews a week trying to land an internship for the summer. I often struggled to find time to eat or relax during the day, until late at night when the dining hall was already closed, and I was too tired to do much. I was stressed, frustrated, and unmotivated. Eventually, I realized I was experiencing burnout for the first time.

At first, I was too hard on myself. I believed that I should have been able to do it all and that I was weak for feeling overwhelmed. After all, every college student I knew was balancing just as much as I was, if not more. I became even angrier at myself and tried to push myself more. As a result, I was losing a lot of weight, barely taking care of myself, and sleeping less than five hours a night.

However, I eventually became more self-aware. As much as I studied and worked, my grades were not improving. I was exhausted, unmotivated, and started distancing myself from friends. My constant bad mood and state of exhaustion made me realize that I needed to make a change not only for my education but for my personal health.  Admitting I was overwhelmed and burnt out was difficult. I started reaching out for help and decided to the best thing to do was take some things off my plate. I decided to take the semester off from my job so I could focus on improving my grades. I started eating healthier and finally finding time to do things that I enjoyed, which made everything else a lot easier.

Experiencing burnout is a lot different from the usual college stress. The best thing to do if you think you might be experiencing burnout is to take a step back and think about how you’ve been feeling the past couple of weeks. Are you constantly tired? Frustrated? Unmotivated? If so, you might be more than just stressed. The first steps you can take to make sure you don’t start feeling worse is to take some things off your plate, realize when you’ve reached your limit, and most importantly, learn to say “no." Sometimes it’s best to not take on more than you can handle.

As college students, we’re constantly trying to show that we’re ambitious by taking on a lot of responsibility. However, it’s important to take a step back to make sure you’re not doing too much at once!


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