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Burnt Out? Cool Down!

By: Kelly Tansor, Copy Editor (ktanso2@uic.edu)

After months of writing papers, conducting group projects, giving presentations, and putting together proposals… I have to admit, I’m a bit burnt out.  Every college student knows what this feels like.  You’re mentally exhausted, you’ve had enough of dealing with anything related to school or work, you don’t seem to care about much of anything, people are saying things to you but nothing is really processing, nothing seems to interest you anymore, and you just generally feel negative and frustrated most of the time.  It’s  like you’re moving on autopilot.

If you are in college and feel like you are experiencing this, you may be asking yourself, “What do I do?  I can’t get motivated!  I don’t want to do anything but so much needs to be done!  How am I supposed to handle this?  The semester isn’t even over yet!”  Fret not, young college student, because I am here to help!  (Just don’t sue me if this doesn’t actually help.)

1. Take a break from life.

If you’re like me, you hate admitting you need a break from… pretty much everything.  However, if you know that there is too much going on and you need to clear your mind, DO IT!  Everyone needs a break every now and then, whether it’s 15 minutes or 15 hours.  Let your mind wander.  Go for a walk.  Listen to music.  Talk to a friend.  Watch TV.  Play a game.  And for the love of God, turn off your phone!  There is nothing more stress-inducing than keeping a rectangular screen in your pocket that constantly reminds you of all the things you need to worry about.

In fact, Forbes.com suggests, “While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.”

2. Find at least one go-to stress reliever.

Everyone needs some stress relief in their life.  I think it’s a good idea to have more than one method of relieving stress, otherwise that one thing you do will feel like just another chore you’ll have listed in your never-ending to-do list.

The stereotypical college student may suggest alcohol or smoking, but there are plenty of healthy stress relievers, too.  These include playing an instrument, exercising (trust me on this one), reading, meditating, listening to music, or just taking a nap.

Which brings me to my next point…

3. SLEEP!

I love sleep.  Sleep is great.  I know sleep may seem like a myth in college, but you will be amazed at what a few extra hours of sleep can do to you.  Your memory improves, you start to think a little more rationally, and you just feel a little calmer about life in general.

Still not convinced?  Research has shown that sleep deprivation, “can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands.”

These are some helpful resources if you have trouble sleeping:

http://www.learnvest.com/2011/03/sleep-tight-three-ways-to-get-better-sleep-287/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips

4. Get yourself organized.

Alright, you’ve taken some time to yourself, you’ve relaxed, you’ve slept a bit.  Now let’s slowly inch our way back to being productive.  The best way to do that is to better organize yourself.  Many burnout sufferers feel anxious about possibly forgetting a task they have to do, or they might have so many tasks they do not know which one to do first!  The best thing to do is to keep a clean work space (especially if you’re a neat freak like me and messes stress you out even more) and keep track of your tasks in a to-do list.  Keep a list of everything that needs to be done and, if applicable, what that task’s “due date” is.  It’s a great way to keep your priorities in check and make sure you know everything that needs to be done.  While you’re at it, see if that one big, daunting task can be broken down into smaller, easier-to-do tasks.  It’ll take a lot of weight off your shoulders.

5. Know what you can and can’t handle.

Like I said earlier, we all need a break sometimes, but this might be hard for us to admit.  Still, it is not a good idea to take on more responsibilities you can handle.  Try not to tackle too many things at once, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Forbes.com article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/04/01/10-signs-youre-burning-out-and-what-to-do-about-it/

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1 Comment

  1. DAVID TANSOR says:

    Good article and good advice

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