Hey there, fellow students! Let’s talk about something that often lurks in the shadows of our academic lives: burnout. I’m here to share my personal experience and provide some tips on how to manage and overcome burnout during your university journey.
As a medical practitioner from Cameroon, I thought I had encountered stress in all its shades. But when I started my PhD at Griffith University, I realised I was mistaken. Burnout, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), results from prolonged workplace stress that’s not effectively managed, leading to feelings of exhaustion, negativism, and reduced work efficacy. Little did I know, burnout is not limited to the workplace; it’s prevalent among students, researchers, and lecturers too.
Are you thinking, “I’ve never experienced burnout”? Well, you might have, just like me. Sometimes, we fail to recognise the signs—fatigue, apathy, and that constant feeling of being overwhelmed. Burnout is a silent creeper, waiting to pounce on us during our university journey. But fear not! I’m here to share some strategies that helped me minimise the burnout scars and find balance.
1. Intervene early
If you’ve been waking up exhausted for weeks, questioning your motivation, and feeling mentally drained, consider the possibility of burnout. Don’t wait too long to address it. An important consideration is “persistence”. The symptoms can drag for weeks, months, and might not respond to initial attempts at management. Therefore, the earlier you try to do something about it, the sooner you will know if you need help.
2. Lower the bar
We students often set high standards for ourselves, striving for perfection. But at what cost? It’s crucial to reassess our expectations and understand that it’s okay to aim for progress rather than perfection.
3. Embrace the power of breaks
Taking breaks and engaging in fun activities are essential for recharging our batteries. Take a break and do something different and fun. Try to leave your laptop behind. I would say your phone too, but something tells me I may be asking the impossible. Trust me, it’s worth it!
4. Prioritise self-care
Regular exercise, proper sleep, and nourishing meals can work wonders in combating burnout. Don’t neglect these essential aspects of self-care. Spending time on leisure activities and sleep has been found to decrease burnout too. Physical activity can help mitigate academic burnout, so look after yourself through healthy eating, exercise, and sleep. I had to strive for the elusive “work-life balance”, it is still work in progress.
5. Seek support
Social and work support can make all the difference. My social network as an international student was limited, but it was talking with the few people in it, that made all the difference. A wise person once said, “a problem shared is a problem half solved”. Griffith has a support structure for students and workers experiencing difficulties, so make sure you use it. Do not be ashamed to reach out, especially if you have tried all the above and your symptoms persist. Sharing your struggles and seeking support can make a world of difference.
Uni burnout is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to define your university experience. By recognising the signs, implementing self-care strategies, and seeking support, you can conquer burnout and protect your wellbeing. Remember, you’re on a journey of growth and learning, and taking care of yourself is an integral part of that journey.
Stay resilient, my friends!