If you’re a college student, you’re probably hitting that mid semester slump. As a freshman, I remember hearing about it all through high school. I did not really think much of it at the time, and never thought I would be a victim to it. In high school, I was going to school year round with a break here and there, and I had classes five days a week six hours a day. I thought college would be much easier in comparison with fewer classes and more time off. Now that I am actually in college, I can attest to the fact that it is very much real and it is something that is not talked about enough.
So what exactly is “burnout?” College burnout essentially refers to the extreme fatigue that comes from extended periods of stress, and it often causes feelings of apathy. The signs are usually most apparent in the classroom. You no longer have the desire to strive for all As, but instead are willing to settle for “Cs get degrees.”
College requires a lot of work academically, but I think the part that often gets overlooked is how demanding college is socially. We have to deal with overwhelming amounts of work which can cause intense stress, and then add to that the fact that no matter where you look you are surrounded by people. You might have a roommate or a shared bathroom in your dorms, and then you are surrounded by people in the library, dining hall, classrooms. It can be very draining on your social battery to always have to be surrounded by other people, and that is what it can start to feel like- you are surrounded. Social media also plays a large role in this. You see people on Snapchat hanging out with others, and you feel that you should be doing this too. I mean, there is someone always within twenty yards of you at all times, so its not like you have limited options of who to see or who to hang out with. But what do you do when you don’t want to see other people and you don’t want to go out on the weekend like you’re “supposed” to do in college?
You feel tired, overwhelmed, stressed and on top of that you have no desire to go out and see your friends. What I have come to realize is that it’s completely normal. We all share some of these feelings at one time or another, and we often vocalize them to our friends who feel the same way. So let’s call it like it is. This collective feeling among us all, it is burnout.
How do we fix this? Burnout can loosely be defined as feeling tired and stressed, but it goes beyond that. You do not want to let yourself collapse because you see the end of the semester approaching. Instead of taking a break, we all push forward even when we’re in a state of exhaustion. Burnout can be hard to recognize, and it can be hard to recover from. Here are some steps you can take to improving not only your mental health, but your physical health too:
- Recognize the signs: If you know what you are suffering from, you can make a plan to start recovering. Don’t ignore the warning signs in your brain. This is not something to be taken lightly, sometimes you need to put self-care first.
- Find support: There are numerous places for counseling on your campus. If that’s not your style there are also many support groups for people who are experiencing the same feelings you are. You are not alone in this.
- Taking care of yourself physically: Eating well and exercising improves your mental health. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep to keep you productive and help improve your mood.
- Spend some time with nature: Science shows that spending time outdoors can reduce feelings of stress. If you need some time away from your studies or other people, there is no better place to escape to than the great outdoors.
- Spend time doing something you enjoy: Read for pleasure, paint your nails, watch a movie. Your time does not always need to be spent doing things that are subtracting from your mental health. Do something that is purely for you and don’t regret a second of it. It’s not wasting time if it genuinely makes you happy.
Remember, you are not alone. Talking about it is the first step, but now you need to go take time to take care of yourself. Self-care is not selfish.