The end of spring break should leave Villanova students feeling happy, healthy, relaxed, and ready to take on the remainder of the academic semester … right?
Many students on campus are suffering from burnout after a long year of nonstop work. But burnout is a word that is thrown around so often that many never actually learn what it means. Burnout can be described as the tipping point, where all the pressure and anxiety that you have put on yourself begins to become unbearable. It’s a feeling of giving up, even when you’re so close to the finish line because your legs just can’t run for even one more second. And it’s a completely normal thing to feel.
What causes burnout? According to an article from the University of Virginia, burnout can be caused by:
1. Pressure and expectations
This is the most common symptom around this point in the semester and is primarily focused on academic performance.
It might go a little like this: You did it! You made it into college. But…now what? Now, you work tirelessly on assignments, essays, and homework. You pull all-nighters to keep your GPA high. You sign up for every club possible to build up your resume. Sleep and eating start to become less of a priority. Eventually, it all catches up with you.
Maybe the case of academic pressure isn’t something you can relate to, but rather you feel pressure in other forms. Pressure and expectations can be from yourself, your peers, or your family. But regardless, the feelings of anxiety, exhaustion, and a decline in enthusiasm for academics as well as academic performance are all symptoms of college burnout (The Best Schools).
College can be one of the best times of your life. It can also be one of the loneliest. These two factors can complement each other, but at times being lonely can have a negative impact on your college experience. While many boast that it’s easy to make friends in college, the reality is that it can be really hard. On top of this, friendships in college are much more fluid and depend on busy, ever-changing schedules, where you live on campus and overlapping circles of friends. Unlike in high school, where you could be confident you would see familiar faces every day at lunch, friendships in college oftentimes need to be much more intentional. Loneliness can contribute to burnout and give an individual a sense of hopelessness.
3. Fitting in
While the definition of fitting in can vary person-to-person, a UVA article describes it as feeling a “personal disconnect from everyone.” Oftentimes, this feeling of standing out can be due to a drastic change in environment. College is very different from high school. For those who have had more time to adjust to college life, the transition from being around the comfort of friends and family over spring break to coming back to college can also be overwhelming. This can lead to feelings of anger and irritation and less enthusiasm about school.
How do I stop college burnout? As you can imagine, this is much easier said than done. I think an effective way to help with burnout is to allow yourself to put your situation into a new perspective. When you have been studying consistently for years on end, you may not think you need a break. Try to look at yourself from the perspective of a friend or your inner child. We often find more compassion for others than for ourselves. This new perspective may help you think that a break and some TLC are in order.
Remember what grounds you
A changing schedule in college means leaving behind activities that you may not feel are necessary parts of your day. On the contrary, practicing your passions daily can help lead to a fulfilling life. Try to carve out time to do the things that you enjoy and focus on making this a priority when you can. I feel like rediscovering the things you truly enjoy in life is such a liberating feeling, and so paramount to our overall happiness. Remember that rest and eating are not optional activities. They are needed in order to energize a healthy body.
Reach out to someone
It doesn’t matter who. It could be your parents, siblings, friends, significant others, or therapists. Communicating what you feel might make you feel so much less alone in your battle against burnout. The empathy from one individual can have a lasting impact on your mental health journey. Remember that burnout is normal. I am so proud of you for working this hard already. Now it’s time to take a rest!