4 Helpful Tips for When You're Dealing With School Burnout

It’s that time of year again where some of us are feeling the time crunch before finals and, ironically, the more we do work (and procrastinate), the less energy we have left to do more work. Here’s a list of things you can try right away to help with school burnout!

1. 

Deep breathing is the perfect step to initiate your body’s relaxation response and can be the first thing you can do to clear your mind. The simple practice of mindful breathing has so many other health benefits, including:

  • Lowering blood pressure

  • Lowering amounts of the stress hormone (cortisol) in your body

  • Improving core muscle stability & relaxed muscles

  • Increasing energy

  • Calming nervous system  

There are countless breathing techniques you can find online, but one that I’ve used that’s been really helpful is the 4-7-8 exercise; it’s a really simple quick-fix that will help alleviate your stress levels.

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth

  2. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4

  3. Hold your breath for a count of 7

  4. Exhale completely to a count of 8

  5. Repeat however times needed

2.  

I’m a big advocate for taking the time to check in with yourself and realize when it’s time to take a well-deserved break. It’s easy to argue that if you’re experiencing burnout you’re probably procrastinating anyway, so instead of taking more breaks you should cut down on them.

But, it’s how mindful and relaxed you keep yourself during your breaks that will determine how refreshed you will be afterwards. It’s easier said than done to stop worrying about school on your breaks, but taking 20-30 minutes out of your day to treat yourself to a little snack or some retail therapy will not set you back any more than a week-long burnout.

Buy that cute cardigan you’ve been eyeing, take a trip to Starbucks, head to the lake/park, get a massage, read a book, call a friend to spill some tea… Do whatever you want in that 30 minutes and actually enjoy it. We all need some acts of self-love every now and then to motivate our minds to keep going.

3.

Write a To-Do list! Organizing your thoughts and writing them on paper filters out any unnecessary information and keeps you focused on what you need to do.

An article from the Guardian shares a quote from David Allen, a time management expert, and he says, “If your to-do list isn’t clear and to the point, your tasks probably won’t get done - and they certainly won’t be prioritized."

So, it’s not enough to just write down the name of your course and expect yourself to prepare notes from the entirety of the semester in one sitting. Be specific and concise, and literally warn your brain on what you will be working on in the short-term, so you have time to mentally prepare for it (and hopefully can check it off at the end of the day)! Remember, be as realistic as you can with how much you can handle in one work block.

So great, you have everything written down, but you’re still not motivated to actually do any work. Now what?

4.

Sometimes we wait for motivation to come to us, but we learn the hard way that we need to find it ourselves. Like I’ve said before, it’s so important to be there for yourself and know when to step out of the school scene to get a breather…but, if you’re desperately doing everything except the work that you need to be doing, it might be time for a little more activity on your part.  

The 5 Second Rule:

This is my all-time favourite practice! Counting down from 5 is very effective when you feel like you’re going down a spiral of procrastination. Studies have proven that this simple task of mentally counting “5…4…3…2…1” will trick your mind and body into doing something you’ve been putting off. Try this the next time you can’t convince yourself to sit at your desk or get yourself to the library!

Bottom Line: Starting on one small task can create a cycle of starting and completing more and more tasks, and this in turn will bring back the motivation you may have understandably lost during the semester. So, when you don’t feel up to it, force yourself to do one thing that will start the wave of doing more things…and girl, before you know it, you’ll be back on track.