Study Hard, But Don’t Overdo It: The Phases of Burnout

If, unlike me, you have yet to or do not get the privilege of being in Professor Weld’s Personality class, you’re definitely missing out on learning about what she classifies as the phases of burnout. But, for the sake of how “#relatable” the content was, I decided (with permission, of course) to share the knowledge. As students, throughout midterm season especially, it’s important that we are aware of these phases and make sure that while we study hard, we don’t overdo it!

These phases of burnout can apply to anything in our lives that may cause us to consciously make an effort in order to “succeed” in something – relationships, jobs, school, etc.

The phases that lead to burnout are as followed:

1) Honeymoon PhaseYou may associate this phase with how you feel at the beginning of a new job, or the start of a semester at school. You’ve just gotten your uniform, or your brand new notebooks and writing utensils and you’re ready to work your hardest. Perhaps you’re even willing to put out more work than normal in order to make sure that things work out – that you get good grades, or get along with your boss.

2) Oops, Pooped by Wednesday! Whoops, looks like that didn’t last too long! The societal peer pressure starts to grind you gears at this point, and you may start to notice physical symptoms of burnout. Recurring headaches? Fatigue? Sore back?

You know you’ve piled on your to-do list too high, but now you’re in…

3) The Chronic Phase: You may notice that at this stage, a mild depression has ensued. The thing is, you’ve got no time to stop and think about it! You’re cranking out every last bit of energy you possess in the body you’ve already worn out. The fatigue is only getting worse, and depending on the situation, this particular phase can last a long time.

Though you may be down, you’re still active, which leads you to the acute stage.

4) Acute Stage: Uh-oh. It finally happened. Something breaks down; you’re depressed, and maybe all those symptoms finally present itself as an illness or inhibiting pain.  

5) BURNOUT: This is the part where you never want to look at another freaking textbook again; the part where you start crying and just can’t stop. However, it’s often that only after the acute stage and burnout is reached, you lose the stubbornness you possessed in earlier phases and can finally seek social support and learn to take a break! As this stage is classified as burnout, it’s important to note that depending on your situation, sometimes seeking help and finding relief can be much more difficult than just taking a break.

Now that you’re aware of these phases of burnout, be sure to not let yourself get in too deep. Work hard, but don’t overwork yourself! Know your limits, pace yourself, get enough rest.

Just wait ‘till that feeling of absolute joy when you go to write an exam actually feeling well-rested or fully-prepared because you didn’t pile on more than you can handle both physically and mentally, you’ll walk out of there feeling something like this:


References:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7Professor Suzanne Weld’s PSY3303 B “Personality”