Let’s talk about burnout. Now, what exactly is burnout, you may ask. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, burnout is “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.” Now, we have all been through prolonged stress, especially during this time of a pandemic and social unrest. 2020 was supposed to be the year of growth, success, and happiness. The fact is, it turned out to be anything but that. I think everyone is experiencing some type of burnout in their lives right now, whether that be from school, work, social life, family, managing your health, or another reason. I want to be open and discuss it with you today because it is a very real thing. It is not a common topic of conversation because people do not often like to discuss their struggles or mental health. So, I’m here to help you out. Let’s discuss the different types of burnout and how you can help yourself recover from it.
- Academic Burnout
Most of us have online classes this semester. Some students have all of their classes online, while some have a hybrid mix of in-person and online. Switching to an all-new format for the semester can put a lot of stress on you. You worry if you will learn best in this setting and retain all of the information, compared to a professor teaching you in-person. If you have online and in-person classes, you may struggle to manage your assignments and remember which ones you have for which class. Remember, every student going to college is in the same boat. We all have prolonged stress, and this is so wearing on your body and mental health.
How to help yourself: Know you are not in this alone. Reach out to a friend to rant about assignments or stress you are under with school. It’s healthy to let out frustration and stress-- do not keep it bubbled up inside of you. This will lead to more burnout. Recognize when you worked hard and need to take a break. Utilize breaks by doing an activity you love or simply by relaxing. I personally love to sing and practice music or just watch my current favorite Netflix show in-between study sessions. Do not be afraid to reach out to your academic advisor, professors, or campus counseling if you need to. They are all here to support you in being successful. Remember that they are human too, and they have been in your shoes.
- Work Burnout
Whether you are working during COVID or not, it can still be stressful either way. If you do work right now, I am sure there are many procedures put into place to abide by CDC guidelines on how to operate the business you work at. Where I work, we have to wear N-95 masks and face shields to protect ourselves and the other people we work with. If you work long shifts many days per week and are trying to balance school on top of it, I feel your pain and I am right there with you. You are a boss and you can do it, but know when you need to rest and take care of yourself. If you are not currently working, this can also be stressful if you do not have a source of income to pay for your finances and bills. You may be struggling to find a job amidst COVID that you feel safe working at.
How to help yourself: Know when you need to step back and rest. Listen to your body and what it is telling you. I know I am on my feet for almost all of my shift, which I like because it gets my steps in, but when I get home, my body aches after a few days at work. REST! Lie down and relax, take a bubble bath, or do some yoga or stretching. Do something to reward and honor your body for what it is doing for you. Do not let other people place their responsibilities on you at work. Know your responsibilities and help others if you are able, but do not take on more than you can handle. If everyone plays their part at work, things will get done. Do not be afraid to speak up to set boundaries for yourself.
- Social Burnout
If you are hanging out with friends a lot throughout the week, especially if you are an introvert, this can be exhausting. With everything the world is going through right now, we tend to be more exhausted adjusting our lives to these new changes. While getting together and spending time with friends is very healthy in order to balance out your life, it is also important to give yourself some time too. Even throughout interacting with co-workers, clients at work, customers, neighbors, and other people in your life, this can be tiresome after a while.
How to help yourself: Know your limit and allow yourself to have some “me” time when you are feeling weary. It is okay to turn down plans with a friend if you need some time to yourself or time to catch up on chores and schoolwork. Even if you are not doing anything that particular day and your friend asks to hang out, you are allowed to turn them down and ask to reschedule. No one is forcing you. Spend time with friends in a safe way during the pandemic, but do not be afraid to put yourself first too when you need it.
- Family Burnout
Family dynamics and interactions can be very stressful, especially through being around family more often in quarantine. Being in the same house for long periods of time can put tension on you and your family members. It becomes easier to get annoyed with them or start arguments since you have been around them for a long time. This does not mean you don’t love them; it simply means you need to take a moment out of the house or to yourself to refocus.
How to help yourself: Be open with your family about how you are feeling through all of this. Let someone know if what they’re doing is hurting your feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can talk to a friend about it or journal it. You can even rip that page up when you’re done writing about it to get out your frustration. Let your family members know you love them. They will understand that everyone is going through a rough time right now. Get out of the house for an afternoon or go hang out with a friend. A balance of different people in your life will contribute to feeling better and more positive.
- Physical and Mental Health Burnout
This type of burnout is a big one. I think my physical and mental health have been affected the most through this pandemic and social unrest happening around the world. I put so much of myself into my studies, family, work, and friends that I feel like I’m stretching myself too thin often. I neglect to care for myself and check in with how I’m doing. It is okay to feel this way. If you gain weight or don’t eat the healthiest during quarantine, it is okay. It is normal. If you are struggling with your mental health right now, don’t feel like getting out of bed sometimes, or your anxiety has been more apparent, it is okay. It is normal. Everyone is reacting to everything happening in the world differently and in their own unique way. Don’t feel like what you’re going through is invalid. It’s not.
How to help yourself: Talk to someone about what you’re going through, whether that be a co-worker, friend, family member, sibling, parent, therapist-- it doesn’t matter as long as it’s someone you trust. Make sure you are trying to eat nutritious foods to fuel your body for energy and moving your body every now and then. Go on a walk and listen to music to clear your head. Treat yourself to one of your favorite foods or drinks. Reward yourself for the hard work you are putting into your life. Do not commit to too many things because that will lead to more burnout and disappointment in yourself if you can’t come through on all of them. Be kind to your heart, mind, body, and soul. You deserve to be kind to yourself during this time.
I hope these tips helped you to remember to take care of yourself in seasons of burnout. They are normal. Everyone goes through them. I am right now, and if you are too, then you’re not alone. You can rest and refocus to get through it. There is always someone there to help you through it who loves and cares about you. Keep going, I believe in you.