My Experience with Burnout and How to Avoid it

I am sure all of us try to achieve our best in whatever tasks we choose to take on. However, as a perfectionist (and a Virgo), I’ve wired myself to strive to achieve perfection in whatever I do and tend to go the extra mile even when it’s unnecessary to do so. I started the semester with more credit hours than I would normally take on, signed up for extra hours of work and even took on a new volunteering position. Now, this meant that my days were packed. I had a 35 hour schedule, and this did not include any studying time. 

Initially, I was excited. I had so much going on and I loved being busy. However, with the classes I was taking, which required rigorous studying, I started noticing myself cutting back on my sleep. Also, continuously being on the go meant I never had time to stop and check in on my mental health to ensure I was okay. I was putting academics and everything else before my own well-being. The sleep deprivation meant I was not producing quality content or retaining information whenever I studied. This began to reflect in my grades. I started doing badly in classes which I would normally fare well in. As a perfectionist, you can imagine how this took a toll on my self-esteem and my overall well-being. 

I came to a breaking point when I realized I was in a continuous cycle of working without being happy. The things I used to be passionate about no longer excited me. I started viewing each task as an item I had to tick off my list instead of fully immersing myself in it and actively enjoying it. This was when I realized I had to step back and reevaluate my schedule. I realized I was experiencing burnout. 

Burnout is common among college students, with 85% of college students reporting that they have felt overwhelmed by everything that they had to do and 50% of college students saying that their stress had a negative impact on their academic performance. 

Ideally, one should avoid burnout by developing good study habits and learning how to say no. However, if that is too late and you are already facing burnout, I would take a step back and reflect on how you can switch up your time management skills. This can mean doing your homework at a different time of the day or finding a new place to study. Also, reevaluate your commitments to see if you possibly have too much on your plate. It is important not to overwork ourselves and this means saying no to things you simply do not have time for.

As you start to reevaluate your schedule, I urge you to find the time to engage in something you enjoy (no matter how busy you are). Most of the reason why we face burnout is because we are studying too much. Education is important, but there’s more to life than academics. Despite my busy schedule, I try to set aside an hour a day for personal self-growth. These are some of the outlets that I engage in to ensure that I am not only growing as a person academically, but holistically as well. Also, engaging in activities that you enjoy will give you a much-deserved break from the monotony of studying. 

Time management is something that can only be learned through trial-and-error, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t immediately figure out something that works for you. I hope all these tips will help you navigate the next semester of college and allow you to better understand how to effectively manage your time to avoid burnout.