Are You Struggling With Burnout?

As we head into the throes of Term 2, the workload is starting to pick up, the deadlines are starting to roll in quicker and the late nights in front your laptop are becoming a regular occurrence. Endless reports of another storm rolling in over the UK with more rain and wind to drown you on your walk into uni, make the thought of another grey week more difficult to face. Term 2 is prime time for burnout. The brief rest at Christmas seems like forever ago and the end doesn’t really feel like it’s in sight.

It’s important to recognise the signs of burnout early so that we can build real and practical techniques that can give our physical, emotional and mental health a break during this hectic, pressure-filled time.

 

Watch your sleep

Lack of sleep, waking up during the night and the inability to open your eyes after your 8th snooze alarm are all signs that your either over-working yourself or your body has internalised the stress and anxiety you are feeling over work and life. Your body is trying to show you that something is wrong.

Hints and Tips: make non-negotiable boundaries for sleep

  • Put your phone on the other side of the room right before bed. This will stop you scrolling through your Instagram feed late into the night, but it will also mean that you must get out of bed in the morning to switch off your alarm.
  • Be consistent with the time you start to wind-down and go to bed. The human body likes integrated routines and patterns, if you go to be at 10pm one night and 2am the next, it’ll send your systems all out of whack.
  • That being said, if you feel tired lean into it! If you normally fall asleep at 11pm and at 10pm your eyes are starting to blink shut, your body is asking you for sleep. Don’t force yourself to stay awake until your prescribed bedtime!

girl sleeping in black and white

 

Identify a sense of apathy or ‘over-complaining’

Who doesn’t love a good rant? A good sit down with a mate over coffee and complaining about the weather, the boyfriend, the girlfriend, the state of cleanliness of your house, your flatmates, that one lecturer, the endless strikes and above all, how university is slowing sucking out your soul.

But when this becomes the topic of every conversation with friends, the subject of every phone call home and the focus of your thought patterns, it’s important to recognise this a sign of stress and burn-out.

Hints and Tips: make time for yourself each week and negate feelings of guilt

  • Schedule time in every week where you don’t do any work or think about University stressors and don’t feel guilty about it. Knowing that every Wednesday evening is film and wine night, means you can work around it because it’s pre-scheduled time for you.
  • Make a worry journal: buy or use a standard notebook (you can make it pretty if you like – nothing better than a 3D sticker!) and give yourself 15 minutes where you can list all the things you’re worried or stressed about and you can sit there and stress about them. Once these 15 minutes are over you should try to limit your worry because it’s not doing you any use. You can’t control these stressors so try not to let them dominate every thought!
  • If you can control particular stressors, make an action plan. There’s nothing worse than 101 thoughts floating around in your head with no real purpose. Once you break down a problem into smaller chunks, it may feel a lot easier to solve.
  • Also try your best to stop unnecessary complaining around loved ones and friends, it may be unwittingly adding stress to their plate too. They’ll start seriously worrying about you whilst also avoiding certain topics of conversation because they know it’ll slowly become another moan sesh.

blue notebook saying my secret plan to rule the world on cover with pink background  

Keep an eye out for pushing yourself to work harder

There is no issue with working hard, especially at uni, where a lot of the results do come from grinding until the coursework or revision is done. But when you’ve pulled a 9 hour library day on campus with 2 short breaks, and you get home and think ‘that wasn’t productive enough, I better do 4 more hours and then I’ll be happy with today,’ it’s important to keep an eye on that feeling. The belief that more work will result in more self-esteem or better results is not necessarily always applicable or healthy! The more tired you are, the less productive you are, the more hours you put in, the less sleep you get – and the cycle continues.

Hints and Tips: try to make other plans and get an accountability partner

  • Except at heavy deadline season, try to limit the number of working hours in the day. Don’t make the entire day from rising to bedtime completely centred around working. Take breaks and intentional ones!
  • Make other plans! Message a friend for a coffee or check out your societies events and plan to stick to this commitment. Plan to do activities that are not work focused, go to the gym, go for a walk or take a trip into town for some retail therapy.
  • Get an accountability partner who knows that you may be overworking yourself. Make plans to go to the library together for the day and when they suggest a quick coffee break or a walk to Reed Hall, say yes.

Anna Schultz-Girls Smiling Hanging Out With Dog  

Another essential piece of advice would be to confide in someone you trust, or a wellbeing service, about how you’re feeling. If you’re struggling with burnout, you’ll be chronically exhausted no matter what you eat or how much you sleep, you’ll want to give up, feel cynical and start to overwork yourself to compensate. Burnout is very common at University and to ensure that these feelings don’t begin to spiral, share them with a friend or family member or a mental health professional to put strategies in place to start to recover. Spend time with your loved ones, remember that you are loved and that university is not the be all and end all.  

 

Kayla Bacon-Dramatically Skipping Down Road

 

Lots of HCX Love xoxo