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My Top 5 Tips to Avoid Burnouts

Ask any of my family or friends and they will tell you that I am the world’s biggest workaholic. I like to maintain a certain level of busy while still being able to have my free time for myself. But I am the worst when it comes to taking on new challenges, especially when they are school or work related.

It is that time of the year when classes are starting to come to an end, exam are coming closer, and my master’s final project seems like a large beast that is out of control. On top of all the school work I find myself struggling to work in friends and other duties. I have even started to mismanage my time scheduling and doing basic chores around my apartment, let alone grocery shopping. At this point, I truly feel like I am experiencing a burnout.

According to the Merriam - Webster dictionary, a burnout is, “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration,” and there are many reasons a person may experience a burnout due to school, work, relationships, etc.

When someone hits the point of a burnout, not only is it bad for their health but also for the work they are trying to focus on. According to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of a burnout include but are not limited to: fatigue, insomnia, forgetfulness, physical symptoms, loss of appetite, anxiety, and depression.

It sometimes feels like I am the only one who ever experiences a burnout, but then I started to wonder if anyone else had a good roadmap on how to actually handle one. So, I decided to write out 5 of my top must dos when I am going through a burnout.

#1 Time Management

Time management is a soft skill that requires concentration and practice. I first learned about the value of time management during my first semester of undergrad when I was taking 18 hours of credits. My best advice is to put all your mandatories (classes, meetings, doctor appointments) in a calendar to structure your full day.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash
Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash

Then, go one step further and schedule your time watching Netflix or going on trips, etc throughout your mandatories. You will really have to think, ‘do I really need to go out every Friday and Saturday for 4 weeks in a row?’ ‘Do I have enough time to watch that 4th episode of Friends?’

Structuring your day and time will truly help you feel organized and better able to conquer the day. Here are more helpful tips from the NHS on time management.

#2 Set Healthy Goals for Yourself the SMART Way

Goal setting may sound like something you do only for business classes or in a corporate workshop, but setting healthy goals can help you reach for something bigger. I find the easiest method for me is using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound) goals. For example, some SMART goals I have set for myself are to write at least 2 blogs a month (it is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) and to try to read at least 1 book a month (again this goal follows the SMART rules).

Now whether or not I actually get to these goals is one thing, but the beauty in setting healthy goals is that you can roll them over to the next month or week. Personal goals should not weigh you down, but rather give you something to reach for and easily attain.

It may take a few goals to practice, but I believe you will figure out ones that work best for you. Here is an article from Harvard Health on ways to set healthy goals using the SMART tool.

#3 Get Enough Sleep

Photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash
Photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash

Really, this point cannot be stressed enough. It is so important, especially as a young person, to get enough sleep. I am talking a full 7-8 hours to maintain a good state of mental health. Not only will you be more productive during lectures and seminars but you will have more energy to spend time with friends!

In case you need a more credited voice to tell you to get more sleep, here is a link to the Mental Health Foundation on the importance of sleep!

#4 Set Aside Friend Time

Surround yourself with people who can relax you and make you feel comfortable and confident. Go see a movie, visit a museum, or experience a concert to get your mind away from work.

Here is a great article from Everyday Health on the importance of friendship.

#5 Set Aside “Me” Time

Me viewing artwork at the National Gallery in London
National Gallery

Remember that you are #1 and if you need a Netflix and stay in bed night, do it. Your well being is the top priority. Also, getting some exercise will help boost your creativity and give you the moment to walk outside and experience the outside world. Here is an article from Psychology Today about walking to boost your creativity and problem-solving skills.

I know that this time of the year can be very stressful and difficult to manage, but with some of these tools I hope you are now better equipped to take on the challenges ahead.

Good Luck!

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