Avoiding Burnout in College: Causes and Remedies

Edited by: Vlada Taits

We’ve all been there: sitting behind your computer, eyes glued to the same screen you’ve been staring at for the past hour but you just can’t seem to make any progress. You’re stuck in a slump and even just to complete a small task, that would normally be simple, feels hefty. This is what’s known as burnout and usually occurs after a period of intense productivity. In this article, we’ll discuss why burnout occurs, why you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking time off, and solutions to work through your burnout to achieve a more balanced lifestyle. 

Causes of a Burnout 

According to Mirriam-Webster, burnout is defined as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration”. Characteristics of it may include an out-of-character pessimistic outlook on life, extreme fatigue, and difficulty getting out of bed in the morning (Healthline). If untreated, it can lead to worse symptoms like depression, heart disease, and diabetes (Healthline). Moreover, due to the capitalistic demand for high - sometimes unachievable - levels of productivity, often disguised behind a “girl boss” or “on the grind” rhetoric, many young people find themselves taking on more than they can handle. In an interview for Vox, author Malcolm Harris explains how millennials experience “increased competition between workers, increased isolation of workers from each other, the extreme individualism of modern American society, and the widespread problems of debt and economic security” (Vox). These factors compounded together leave workers and students feeling overwhelmed and lonely with little financial means to cope with their stress. However, there are ways to heal from burnout and find a balanced regiment. 

Finding Your Way Out of a Burnout 

While ideally, these methods would help you to not become burnt out in the first place, they can also be used as solutions, ways to heal and create a more balanced lifestyle, post-burnout. First and foremost, though it may seem counterintuitive to someone prone to hard work, take time off! The physical symptoms you may experience after pushing yourself past your limits are your body letting you know that you need a break, and that’s ok! Even amidst a busy schedule, there is always time to take a break. Try making your time off meaningful, that is to say, instead of an absent-minded scroll through social media, take some time in the morning to try yoga, meditation or journaling, to give your brain an adequate break. Additionally, a study from the University of Michigan found that, because of a phenomenon called Attention Restoration Theory, nature is one of the most effective outlets for recovering from burnout. The theory states that our gentle fascination with nature helps to “rest our top-down, direct-attention faculties,” making us more creative and enhancing our mental clarity (The Cut). So next time you feel the stress building up, take some meaningful time off - away from your phone - and take a walk in nature!

 

Works Cited:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/burnout 

https://www.healthline.com/health/tips-for-identifying-and-preventing-burnout#whats-burnout 

https://www.vox.com/2019/2/4/18185383/millennials-capitalism-burned-out-malcolm-harris 

https://www.thecut.com/2017/04/the-original-natural-remedy-for-burnout-nature.html