If the new term already has you dealing with burnout, you’re not alone
The first month of the winter semester has almost passed, but university students have been feeling the effects of academic burnout since the first week.
After winter break, it’s difficult to get yourself back into the swing of receiving large amounts of information daily, whether that be new assignments or just syllabi. The new year is often associated with new beginnings, resolutions, and reinvigorated spirit, yet this doesn’t seem to translate to classes.
The second semester quickly follows final exams, which is a huge source of academic burnout for many who, during this time, tend to overwork themselves as well as self-isolate. Burnout can take approximately three months to a year to fully get over. This means you may still be dealing with symptoms into the new year.
With the fast-moving pace of university, it’s vital to understand how and when burnout is affecting you so you can take immediate action to combat it. Burnout affects students both mentally and physically. Moreover, burnout is commonly associated with stress, a factor we all know greatly impacts our health. Common indicators that burnout has set in are lack of motivation, fatigue, and a decline in academic performance. Physical symptoms include insomnia, headaches, muscle aches, and other adverse effects commonly caused by stress. In severe cases students may also experience depression.
There are, however, many ways to improve your current condition if these symptoms sound a little too familiar.
After the first step of acknowledging that you’re going through burnout, the next essential step is to take a break. Take a weekend to sleep in and either pick up new hobbies or spend time on hobbies you enjoy. Taking a moment to yourself to do the activities that you like can give you the mental space to set up your next moves for fighting burnout as well as just relax.
As is preached by parents, social media, and friends alike, getting outside for fresh air really is a great start to battling stress. Studies correlate Vitamin D with improving mental health — an added perk to going out and enjoying the upcoming springtime weather. Victoria is riddled with parks and hiking trails such as Beacon Hill Park, Mount Tolmie Park, and my personal favourite, Glencoe Cove- Kwatsech Park. The UVic campus itself is great for going on a stroll before classes with its natural, immersive environment.
Exploring outside is also a great excuse to escape the external pressures of social media, which has been found to decrease your attention span while increasing brain fatigue. This is especially common because of “doom scrolling,” the act of mindlessly yet obsessively scrolling through generally negative news on your phone. This understandably contributes to feelings of anxiety and depression, which certainly does not aid in the curing of burnout.
Another way to decrease burnout is reaching out for help. UVic values the mental health of students, offering counselling services to students through the Student Wellness Centre located in the Health and Wellness Building. Friends and family are also an available source to lend an ear and possibly their own advice to someone struggling.
To prevent future bouts of burnout, it’s important to develop a good work-life balance. One strategy for this is to buy a journal or planner and schedule your days. In this way, you can create specific time slots to work on classes as well as schedule fun activities with friends or on your own. Using a planner increases organization, productivity, motivation, and it allows you to visualise your days.
While the start of the new term may have brought burnout into the spotlight, with the right strategies in place, students can successfully overcome burnout and achieve their academic goals.