How to Recognise and Prevent Emotional Burnout

This November has been one of Finland’s cloudiest since 2000. For many, the lack of sun is seriously beginning to take a toll, and on top of that, there’s school, work, and life stress. With so many stressors, it's easy to fall into the pit of emotional burnout, so here are a few tips on how to recognise the symptoms and how to deal with them.

1. Lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating

You have two essays to write, a lecture diary, several readings, and a deadline at work, yet you find yourself staring at a blank Word document, or reading the same sentence over and over again until the words no longer make sense. When you’re in a lecture, the professor sounds more like white noise than the information you'll need for your lecture diary. These two symptoms will add to your stress and impact your productivity.

2. Physical fatigue

You’re getting your usual amount of sleep, but suddenly it doesn’t feel like it’s enough. No matter how many cups of UniCafe or K-Market coffee you drink, you still feel tired. Or maybe you have the opposite issue: your sleep schedule is suddenly out of whack because you have insomnia. You’re tossing and turning for hours, but sleep eludes you. At first, it may only be a couple of nights a week, but it’ll quickly turn into a nightly ordeal.

3. Irritable and pessimistic attitude

Your exhaustion begins to affect your behavior. You find yourself snapping at a friend’s teasing remark, or getting angry at a co-worker for making a small mistake on a project. Your irritability may be forgiven at the beginning of your burnout, but your friends, co-workers, and family will quickly become tired of you.

4. Change in diet

A change in the diet means different things for different people. For some, they find themselves eating way more than usual. For others, it’s only until they get home from class or work and realise that they didn’t actually have a full meal that day. It could also mean eating foods you don’t usually eat in large quantities, such as sweets or junk food.

Now that we went over some signs of emotional burnout, here are a few pointers on how to avoid it, or at least lessen the impact.

1. Physical activity

Remember to get up and take a break from whatever task you’re doing at least once every hour. The activity can be as small as doing a few stretches or getting up and doing those dishes you forgot about. If you have the time, going to the gym is a great way to relieve some tension and focus on your well-being for a while!

2. Eat healthily

That Fazer chocolate bar looks super tempting, I know, but maybe go for some nuts or dried fruit instead. Protein bars are also a good way of curbing that chocolate craving while still being healthy. Stir-frys are a quick and easy way to get your daily veggies, and if you’re craving ice-cream, freezing yogurt is a good alternative (just be sure the kind you choose is not packed full of sugar and additives, and take it out before it freezes completely!)  

3. Make a clear schedule

Map out everything you have to do, and make a schedule for yourself. You don’t have to know what you’re going to do every hour, but simply having everything out in front of you can help clear your mind. Here’s a chart that can help you prioritize your work, and remember to make time for breaks!

4. Take a break

Sometimes, the only thing that helps is taking a break from everything. So, watch an hour or two of Netflix, get a coffee with a friend, or work on that creative project you’ve wanted to do for months. You deserve it.