Combat College Burnout!

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Schuyler McKinley
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In high school, you somehow managed to wake up anywhere from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., sit for seven hours a day, and stay after school for extracurricular activities or sports. Plus, some of you also worked! College has brought the added freedom of customization so you may not need to attend six classes straight, but it is often less structured. You can stay up late, eat Cheetos for breakfast or even skip class (I don’t recommend this though). Trying to juggle all of this can be really difficult! Feeling overwhelmed is completely normal, but work to limit those feelings so you’ll avoid academic and personal burnout.

As a college junior with a full course load, three jobs, involvement in two student groups and a need for me-time, it’s really exhausting at times. I want to share a few ways I avoid becoming overwhelmed and burning out.

Switch it up

Taking time away from your stressors allows you to relax and invest time in your other interests. Sometimes you need to binge on Netflix or listen to the same album for two hours. Sometimes all you need is a good cry and a nap. These are just suggestions. Find what works for you!

  • Listen to Music
  • Watch Netflix
  • Invest in a hobby (old or new, maybe knitting)
  • Spend time with friends
  • Exercise (Lift, Swim, Walk, just get your body moving)
  • Cry
  • Take a nap

Take a brain break

Our brains are constantly working. Giving your brain space to focus on itself combats overthinking and anxiety. Implement one or two mindfulness exercises during your daily routine. I personally do this each morning and night. Practicing mindfulness can help you relax gradually while creating a habit. Once the habit it formed, you will have a better balance of responsibilities. Try a few of these mindful actions. 

  • Practice meditation
  • Take a few deep breaths
  • Rethink and possibly change your state of mind
  • Remember that this will pass: You are on the right track.
  • Come to terms with the unavoidable
  • Unplug from your devices  

Stick to a plan

Scheduling your tasks and responsibilities not only makes life easier but also more manageable. Planning ahead keeps you looking to the future and always prepared for your next task. Sometimes lists and Google reminders can be a lot so take 10 seconds to just breathe. Pick one of your tasks, preferably an easy one, and focus on it until completion. It helps get the ball rolling and provides an instant sense of accomplishment.

  • Organize!
    • Make lists
    • Google Calendar is your friend!
  • Take things one task at a time
  • Plan ahead

We all have had to pull an all-nighter or skip a meal to finish a project, but making it a continuous habit will only lead to a constant state of overwhelming thoughts ending with burnout. It’s important to be driven and work hard, but if it’s at the expense of your physical and mental health, then it’s neither sustainable nor healthy. Cut yourself some slack. Get into the mindset that you do NOT have to be productive every second of the day. Take time for yourself; otherwise, you’ll be sacrificing the quality of your work and your overall well-being.

Here are some additional tips I have for general wellness in college:

  • Don’t spread yourself too thin | Learn to say no
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat something in the morning
  • Take time for yourself
  • Stay organized