It’s been a while since I’ve written an article, and it’s honestly because I’ve drawn a complete blank on what to write for the longest time. So I thought — why not write about what’s causing me to feel so mentally exhausted nowadays? My burnout hit really hard this time around when I decided to take 3 classes while joining a research team this summer. What was I thinking? It wasn’t the workload in itself that caused the burnout, but rather the fact that we’re in a pandemic and I essentially was holed up in my room everyday doing the same routine: getting up, working and going to bed. I felt like nothing I was doing mattered and it made me feel completely drained.
Skip to the first two weeks of this Fall quarter: sitting through the lectures seemed like so much more effort because all I wanted to do is to take a nap. However, I couldn’t because I would have a million other things to do. I procrastinated doing my work to the point that it stressed me out. I found myself feeling frustrated a lot more — it was not a good feeling. I realized I was self-sabotaging myself, so I needed to figure out a way to understand and to manage my burnout. Here’s how I went about it:
Setting Realistic Goals
If I don’t have a set schedule, all the tasks I have to do freaks me out and I feel extremely overwhelmed. I find that having a planner and laying out all my upcoming assignments and exams in front of me helps me out a lot. Before this quarter, the way I made my daily schedule involved an overestimation of how much I could get done each day, which was not the smartest move. When I couldn’t check stuff off my list from a previous day, it made me feel incompetent the next day.
I’ve now adjusted my plans to where I set more realistic S.M.A.R.T. goals for myself, and make a schedule that I know I can accomplish that day so it doesn’t stress, or more importantly, burn me out.
In college, relaxing isn’t really the first or even the second thing on our mind, but in order to stay sane, it probably should be a priority. We should normalize not taking on more than we can handle without feeling bad about it. If you don’t want to go to a meeting for a club that you don’t find enjoyable, you shouldn’t have to go to it. If you don’t want to socialize with a bunch of people and want to take that time to recharge, do it! Saying “no, thanks” in some situations is honestly such a game changer. Giving yourself that much needed mental break is one step closer to helping you with your burnout. Trust me.
One big thing that’s really helped me out this time around with my burnout is working out. As cliche as it sounds, it makes me feel refreshed in the morning and ready to start my day. It’s so important to give your mind a break and move your body after sitting in front of a computer all day. Exercising literally gives you that break. I’ve also actually started giving yoga a try as a stress reliever because I guess finding some inner peace is a good idea? And hey, if every influencer in Los Angeles swears by it then meh, I guess there has to be something good about it.
“Do Not Disturb”
Lastly, but most definitely not least, going offline is so important when you experience burnout. Put your phone on silent or “do not disturb,” especially when you’re relaxing. You don’t need any of that added stress from your emails or Canvas notifications. Burnouts can mean not wanting to do anything you liked to do before, so make it a habit of doing one new activity for yourself whenever you get the chance. I’ve been on a mission for quite some time to find something that will actually bring me joy again, since a “side effect” of being burnout, for me at least, is not wanting to go near another book right now. I love reading, but all I’ve been doing for the past 4 weeks is reading multiple textbooks and I’m over it. In my spare time, I now settle for playing board games or just catching up on shows that I’ve been eager to watch. Regardless of what you do, remember to take it easy and don’t overwhelm yourself.
Well, we made it to the end. If you’re also suffering through burnout, you’re clearly not alone. I hope reading this article helped!