Is it better to burn out than fade away? Student burnout is a problematic phenomena

By in Opinions

As we approach the end of midterm season, we can look forward to the November break as a brief respite from the stress of school. Students often find themselves toeing a fine line between overworking and falling behind on coursework, and as the term progresses, many of us burn out trying to keep up.

Burning out occurs when a person doesn’t have a healthy work-life balance — when they aren’t getting enough sleep, are working too much, aren’t getting enough exercise, don’t feel like they are being recognized for the work they do or lack the support of close friends.

Students become increasingly susceptible to crumbling under pressure during midterm season. The phenomena of burning out can make a person overly cynical or cause them to lose their motivation to work. So here are a couple prevention methods that I have found helpful.

First of all, make sure you are getting enough sleep. It can be tempting to cut back on a few hours of sleep here and there to put the finishing touches on that essay or finish up the readings for class, but it is equally important to make sure you are well rested. Studies have shown that lack of sleep not only negatively impacts our ability to concentrate but also hinders our ability to regulate emotions. So getting a good night’s rest will help you cope with the stress of school.

Think about hitting the gym, despite how hard it can be to justify squeezing in a workout here and there. Studies have shown that regular exercise improves cognitive function — so you will be more productive with the time you devote to working on school work — and allows us to better handle the stress when our assignments are fast approaching. A healthy body makes for a healthy mind.

Getting involved in a student group on campus gives you an opportunity to be active in a community of like-minded individuals who are likely going through an equally harrowing experience. Suffering through it together reminds you that you are not alone, and you can always ask your peers for help.

When it comes to workload, try to reframe the work that still has to get done and celebrate your successes. Often, I find it difficult to get started on a project when I look at what the end result should be. I will usually break a project into multiple smaller tasks, so I can more easily recognize the progress I’m making on any given day.

That way, I can feel good about the work I complete without feeling bogged down by the amount of work that is still to come. Treat a project like a recipe, and focus on completing each individual step. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to finishing an otherwise daunting task.

Always pace yourself. Self-care is important, and making some time for yourself at the end of the day is critical. However, too much time off can also be a bad thing. You have to strike a balance between relaxing and ensuring that there is enough time to get everything done in a manner that you can feel good about.

Sometimes, self-care means taking a bath at the end of the day, but it can also mean giving yourself enough time to get through your weekly readings without feeling rushed.

As we approach the end of midterms and look forward to the break, remember to take it easy on yourself. However, you should also try to chisel away at some school work once you are re-energized — finals are just around the corner.

Jonah Egan-Pimblett

Graphic: M Anh Phan