How to Cope With College Burnout
Being in college should be one of the most exciting times of your life. For most students, it is their first chance at a life beyond the apron strings of the parents. For the first time they get to make decisions for themselves and learn what it means to be an adult.
However, it is also a period of life when there is a lot of pressure. That’s why many students are at risk to experience college burnout. Not only do they have manage getting to class on time and tackling extremely difficult courses, but most will also have to juggle these things along with a job, paying rent, food shopping, and managing a family all at the same time.
It’s no secret that college students lead extremely demanding lives and can easily become overwhelmed with this type of major change in lifestyle. For many, it can become so stressful that it can get to be just too much to deal with.
So, when struggling students finds themselves behind the gun with the deadline for an assignment coming due, they usually see only two options. Take the easy way out and hire someone to do the work for them or they can spend endless and sleepless nights trying to get done, many times neglecting other responsibilities in the process.
This may work for a while but what happens after you have completed all that work and you don’t get the results you want? Your grades do not measure up to the amount of work you put in. You become exhausted, irritated, and discouraged. If this happens repeatedly, no matter how hard you try, your sense of dedication and the enthusiasm you felt at the beginning of the term will begin to wane. And if you’re like most people, you’ll begin to show signs of college burnout.
What Is College Burnout?
No matter how excited we get about going to college, it is literally impossible to remain upbeat 100% of the time. It is also impossible to remain on point for every task we have to face. After all, we are only humans and our brain power has to be refueled on a regular basis. If not, we can become overextended and fatigue will begin to set in.
This is completely normal and nearly everyone goes through it. However, if you reach a point where occasional breaks are not enough to refuel your spirit you may be trying to cope with college burnout. So, how can you tell the difference between just regular exhaustion and college burnout?
- Health Problems: As your level of depression gets stronger, your immune system weakens and you’ll find yourself getting sick more often. Aside from headaches and unusual aches and pains, you may have bouts of insomnia (leading to a lack of energy), lingering colds, and other issues with your health.
- Cognitive Abilities Diminish: As your stress level increases, your normal brain functions will begin to diminish. You’ll notice that you become forgetful and your decisions become erratic. Your ability to concentrate on your studies is affected and you begin to make the kinds of mistakes you would never normally do. This will naturally lead to even lower grades automatically sending you into a downward spiral leading to further depression and an even stronger sense of failure.
- Lack of Motivation: One of the first signs of burnout is a lack of motivation. Your initial desire to do well in your studies gives way to a defeatist attitude. Your mind tells you that you’re not going to do well anyway and you have a sense that you will let people down no matter how hard you try. As a result, you are unable to muster up any desire to try.
- Boredom/Lack of Interest in Things: Boredom will set in and you’ll have no interest in anything, even things you once enjoyed. Your hobbies and interests will not be enough to pull you out of your negative mood. Even when you are successful in something there will be no sense of pride or satisfaction in the work you’ve done.
- Relationships Begin to Suffer: Burnout causes many students to pull away from relationships. You’ll find yourself avoiding people and go into a hibernation mode not wanting to communicate with anyone around you.
All of these symptoms are a direct result of stress the student may experience. When you’re suffering from college burnout, you might lose control of your emotions and end up fighting over insignificant things, your attention will automatically drift to the negative side, and you can become very judgmental.
Anyone experiencing these kinds of symptoms is most likely dealing with college burnout. The question at this point is ‘what can you do about it?’
How to Deal With College Burnout?
One of the challenges of this unpleasant state is that you don’t have a lot of time to let the negativity run its course. You have deadlines to meet, courses to study for and the longer you linger in the depressive quagmire the worse your situation can become. You need to do something that can address your situation quickly.
Tip #1:Seek Counseling
Your university likely has a counselor that can help you to cope with your problems. Seek their guidance, they are there to give you support during those tougher than usual times. Make an appointment and take their suggestions seriously. They may recommend a semester of study off-major to give you a break from the pressure or they may offer other suggestions you may not have thought of to get you back on track.
Tip #2: Take Care of Your Physical Needs First
Most of the problems you’re dealing with in college burnout are all inter-related. But you won’t be able to recover from any of them if your body is not strong enough to fight back. It is more important to maintain your physical health before attempting to deal with your psychological and emotional issues. Start by eating healthy meals (even if you don’t want to) and making sure you get enough nutrition. When your body is well nourished, you will naturally sleep better, which will automatically help you better manage your emotions and mental state.
If you do not see any improvement from managing your physical needs, it is very important that you see a doctor to make sure there are no other underlying causes that you aren’t aware of.
Tip #3: Re-evaluate Your Goals
Sometimes eager students are determined to push through their college years faster than usual. They may take on more classes than they need to or they have not seen the value in taking breaks. At times, to get over burnout may be as simple as setting smaller, easier to achieve goals. If you’re feeling that your planning skills are not good enough, read our guide on how to improve your planning skills to perform better in college.
Tip #4: Meditation
Other students have discovered that practicing meditation and mindfulness has been very effective in getting you back on track. Even some thing as simple as positive self talk can help you to improve your overall outlook. Once your body and your mind are in sync, you will find that your entire attitude will begin to make the shift from negative to positive and you’ll be back on task before you know it.
Everyone experiences burnout from time to time. It is a common occurrence with anyone who lives a busy life. Dealing with college burnout is not the end of the road and chances are you’ll deal with other types of it later on in life. The good news is that these feelings don’t last forever and with the right mindset and tools to fight it, you will be back to your studies and living the life of a college student in a very short period of time.