A couple of weeks ago, I experienced a series of emotions that left me tired, stressed, and hopeless. At the time, I thought I was just having a particularly hard week and things would get better. But these feelings were and still are lingering in the back of my mind, and I figured out I was dealing with burnout. According to HelpGuide, burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. When experiencing burnout, you feel overwhelmed by all the tasks you have to complete, feel emotionally drained, and like you’re unable to meet the demands expected of you. Because of these emotions, I forgot the reason why I was doing what I did in the first place and felt that everything was useless.
Burnout can be caused by several factors such as work commitments, lifestyle complications, or personality traits. Some questions you can ask yourself to see if you have burnout are:
- Is every day a bad day?
- Does caring about your work or home life seem like a waste of time energy?
- Are you constantly exhausted?
- Are the majority of tasks you complete per day extremely dull or overwhelming?
- Do you feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be on the road to burnout. It is important to distinguish the difference between stress and burnout, however. Stress comes from the feeling of too many pressures that tire you physically and mentally. But, even if you’re stressed, you’re still able to envision things getting better once you have control of your situation.
Burnout centers on the feeling of not being enough. This can mean no motivation to complete your responsibilities, and being beyond the state of caring. When experiencing burnout, it is hard to stay optimistic about your current circumstances. So, how can we remedy this? Healing burnout is not a quick and easy process, but there are measures we can take to help ourselves.
First, finding balance is key. Whether it is work, school, or other personal engagements, it’s important to establish boundaries for yourself on what you can and can’t do. Instead of expecting yourself to say yes to everything, it’s okay to say no if you know you can’t take on an added responsibility. If your boss is telling you to work on another project, let them know you have a lot on your plate and can’t do their assigned task right away. If a friend who brings negativity is asking you to hang out, let them know you need some time to yourself (and possibly cut out that friend soon, although it’s easier said than done).
Aside from reaching out to people who understand you and talking to them about how you feel, find what makes you happy from within! My favorite shows on Netflix and Disney+, calling my mom, going thrifting, and treating myself to boba are all things I find comforting that never fail to make me happy. By taking a break from your lack of motivation, you may be able to reignite the joy you are unable to feel at the moment.
Remember, progress is not linear. There are many ups and downs, and burnout is one of those lows that can sometimes be inevitable as a college student. But learning to deal with these stages will serve as a great life lesson and help you become a stronger person. You are amazing and you got this <3