Burning Out with Burnout

Tips for students on identifying burnout and how to deal with it

Hafsa Ahmed, Columnist

With the constant strains of striving to perform throughout the semester with barely any breathers and the holidays drawing near, do you ever just feel complete emotional exhaustion? Do you feel a sense of doubt, helplessness or loss of motivation? Do you feel like just doing minimal things requires the largest efforts? Then you might be looking at a case of burnout. 


I thought burnout was just feeling tired and having a few blowups here and there, but there seem to be more symptoms and harmful effects than what is let on. I am going to discuss what burnout actually is, its symptoms, and a few tips that may come in handy.


Burnout is a state of being physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. This is often caused by prolonged stress and can cause harmful effects on your emotional health and motivation. Burnout is not the stereotype of being only mentally tired from the stress of workload, it is often a feeling of emptiness and mental exhaustion with a lack of motivation and/or care. Having burnout means that you often don’t see any hope of positive change in the situation you are in. I personally can describe it as purposefully avoiding work, whether consciously or subconsciously, just to escape the never-ending pile of workload and responsibilities that seem to rival Mt. Everest. It’s tiring and has you feeling like it never ends. It is very emotionally damaging and can lead to detachment and depression. 


A misconception that I’d like to note is that burnout is not similar to stress. In fact, the symptoms of stress are the opposite of burnout and do not really fit when it comes to which health aspect is affected the most. People with stress can still see the positive side and remain motivated throughout dealing with the stressor, unlike people with burnout. 


Burnout can occur from many things that can bring on stress other than work/school, it depends on the personality traits and lifestyle of a person as well. Examples of lifestyle causes of burnout are working too much without enough time to interact or socialize with others, lack of close and supportive relationships and not getting enough sleep. Personality traits that often attribute to burnout are pessimistic views of yourself and the world, perfectionist tendencies and having Type A personalities. 


Okay, so we talked about identifying burnout, but how exactly do we deal with it? You use the “Three R” Approach. First, you recognize that you are facing burnout. Secondly is the reverse, where we undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support. Lastly, you must start to build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health. It is important to know that there are resources such as the health and wellness center that have online access to anyone who needs it.

Leo Coughenour

Here are three tips that can help you with burnout as well. First, turn to people we can go to. This tip is difficult due to the pandemic, but trying to reach out to friends and family and talking it out can actually help with calming us and relieving stress. 


Second, try to reframe how we look at school or work. Try to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” to bring some motivation and try to find value in your work or studies. It is important to find a balance with our responsibilities and try to find things we love outside of the things we may dislike. Take time off if you need to recharge your batteries and recover. 


Third, reevaluate your priorities. It is necessary to ask yourself if certain things in your life need to be at the top of your list. Try to set boundaries so as not to strain yourself on things that are based on your own time. Take a break from tech for some time each day. Use creativity to try something new, start small projects that you enjoy and don’t bring you any stress or allow you to put some of that stress somewhere else.


 Remember that burnout is real and that it’s okay to face it, just make sure you deal with it in a healthy manner.