The Weekly Read

Thursday 21 August 2014

How to survive college burnout

The latest of our entries in an Irish Independent student journalist competition, in association with Campus.ie

Most students have to work hard to get into higher education. However, be careful about pushing yourself too hard, says Emily Bodkin

AFTER the assignments and exams are finally done and handed up, a person can feel a little worse for wear at the finish line.

The pressure and stress have been lifted yet you still feel as if you could sleep for months. Welcome to the world of burnout. You have worked yourself into the ground over the last few months to the point that you are physically and emotionally exhausted. Suddenly, you feel low and apathetic towards everything: not a good sign.

Burnout is commonly associated with professionals in high-powered jobs but it can also stretch to university students who have had hectic semesters with overloading assignments, or even those who work in retail, bars and club. After weeks and months of hard work, people feel worn out and even the simplest of tasks seem daunting.

Worryingly, as a result of burnout, many people sink into depression as they feel their lives are stagnant and devoid of meaning. The constant structure and monotony of their days leads them to believe that they are stuck in a rut. In order to avoid falling into this pitfall, there are a few things one can do when they have time off to reboot the system and kick-start the excitement again.

Time To Sleep

No matter who you are, sleep is essential for your physical and mental well being. Eight hours is the recommended amount of time a person is meant to sleep but realistically that is not the case for most people. Over-tiredness is a common feature of burnout. Busy lifestyles and looming deadlines can wreak havoc with a person’s body clock, further adding to stress.  So whenever you have a week off, ditch the midnight social media creep, record your favourite shows and hit the nearest bed. Don’t feel guilty about staying in bed an extra few hours in the morning: you deserve it! Emerging from a well-slept slumber will spur you on to take on new tasks that you didn’t think you would be able for.

Much Needed Reunions

We have so much going on in our lives that sometimes we forget that we even have friends. Raise your hand if you have ever gone weeks without speaking to at least one of your close friends? Work and university commitments soak up most of our time leaving us feeling isolated and lonely. It has been proven that those who are less social than their friends have a shorter lifespan. As much as we like to think that we are independent and self-sufficient, we need our mates.

They are vital to our happiness, regardless of what certain spiritual leaders believe. If you are feeling low or just plain tired of everything, reach out to your friends, even the ones you haven’t spoken with in years. Re-connecting with old friends can have a massive impact on a person’s perspective.  Whether it’s meeting up for coffee, having dinner or completely losing yourself over drinks, friends remind you that you are actually have a personality buried deep underneath that work mode you have been operating under. There can be a lot said for staying up at all night with friends doing absolutely nothing. It makes you appreciate the lighter side of life. As the saying goes ‘all work and no play…’

Have a ‘Just Looking Out For Number One’ Day
Everyone is entitled to one of these days. Stay in your pyjamas until three in the afternoon, play Xbox, watch utter rubbish on the TV and eat everything that you shouldn’t. It is also known as a chill day. Forget about assignments or the pile of washing in the corner and just do nothing for the day. Some may say this is lazy but they are probably the ones who have never had to get a bus at 6am every morning to get to university. Laze away folks.

Little Getaway
Feeling fed up? Why not escape for a day or two? It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy: a little break to the countryside for some tranquility will suffice. The hustle and bustle of the city may become too much at times so unfamiliar surroundings would be a welcome change to a clustered mind.  A disruption to the daily routine will shake things up in a positive way.

Some Reflection
Finally, you have time to ask yourself why you are burned out in the first place.  Are you pushing yourself too hard? Are you really enjoying the work you’re doing? Is it time for a change?  Maybe deep reflection is what you need reassess your life. Ask the questions you may have been afraid to in the past and you could possibly save yourself from further fatigue.

 

*Emily Bodkin is a journalism student at DCU

If you’re a student who can write concise, topical stories and is deeply engaged in student life, join the Contributors’ Competition and your stories could be published on Ireland’s most popular news website, Independent.ie, this semester.

 

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