We’re at that point in the semester where things are in full swing. Classes, Greek Life, internships, RSOs, community service, events, jobs—it all just seems to pile up. This past week was midterms, and I don’t know about you, but I was crazy busy with life on top of exams and projects. When things pile up and life gets a little crazy, it can be hard not to feel mentally exhausted. And mental exhaustion can lead to burnout. Burnout can make you feel ready to give up and throw in the towel. Motivation just seems to be out of your grasp. Self-doubt creeps in and you may start to develop a negative mindset. Burnout is very prevalent in college, but there are some steps you can take to avoid it.
Tip #1: Pick a time of your day to be about you
Choose a time, even if it’s just an hour, to focus on your needs and interests. For me, I use the evenings to practice self-care. Starting around 9 pm, I shut off my laptop, slide aside my homework, and make time for myself. I usually read during this time, but sometimes I take a bubble bath or watch a movie with my roommates. But no matter what, I am NOT doing anything school-related. We all need time away from our work to just focus on ourselves and what we love. Maybe you used to be really into writing poetry or painting. Set aside a time in your day, whether it be when you first wake up or right before you go to bed, to focus on you and the things that bring you comfort and peace of mind.
Tip #2: Schedule in that social life
Talking with friends is a great way to avoid burnout. Maybe they’re ranting to you about their crappy ex-boyfriend or something mean that their boss said. Their ranting can you provide something else to focus on. Maybe you’re the one ranting about all your schoolwork and commitments, blowing off steam and getting any frustration off your chest. Maybe you guys are grabbing coffee and people-watching. I know that sometimes it can feel like you’re the only one who is totally overwhelmed and stressed out. It can seem like everyone else has it all figured out, and this can make you feel lonely. But you’d be surprised to find out just how many other people feel the exact same way you do. Talking to others and maintaining a social life makes you feel connected to the world and like you aren’t alone.
Tip #3: Make time for exercise
I know, I know. After a long day, the last thing you want to do is go to the gym. But it’s been proven time and time again just how amazing exercise is for your mental health. Exercise doesn’t have to be running 5 miles and lifting 100 pound weights. You could try yoga in the mornings or afternoon walks around campus—as long as it’s something where you’re up and moving. Hopefully exercise can become a part of your daily routine, and it is definitely something that will make you feel at least a better, especially about yourself.
Tip #4: Add meditation to your daily routine or practice breathing exercises
I never thought I’d be the kind of person to meditate. I always thought that it seemed a little silly and that my mind would wander too much anyways. However, I recently gave it another chance, and it’s been so helpful for me. My favorite thing about meditation is setting an intention for the day whether it be “today is going to be great” or a one word intention like “joy.” Meditation allows you to leave all your stressors aside and focus on nothing but your body, breathing, and spirit.
Tip #5: Learn how to say no
This can be a tough one, especially for women. Many of us have the people-pleasing gene ingrained into our DNA. It can be hard to tell people no because we think that if we do, then they’ll hate us forever. Chances are, saying no isn’t going to ruin your friendships. Learning to say no is scary, but once you start, you’ll become more comfortable with it. You’ve got to be able to set boundaries for yourself because honestly, you can’t truly help and support others if you’re not helping and supporting yourself first.
College can be rough. We try to fit so much onto our tiny plates. Remember, it’s totally okay and normal to feel exhausted. Burnout is pretty common in college students, and you’re not alone. But hopefully, with these tips in mind, you can stop burnout in its tracks.
*I’d like to add that these tips aren’t a cure-all, and they will not work for everyone. If you find yourself feeling hopeless or defeated, especially for a prolonged period of time, please reach out to a mental health professional.