Burnout: How to recognize and treat


If you’re struggling in class, not able to pay attention, or feeling especially tired, you could be experiencing burnout. Check out the symptoms and what you can do to get back to feeling your best!

Clara LaRue, Features Writer

With fourth-quarter comes warmer weather, longer days, final exams, AP testing and the
seemingly inevitable end-of-year burnout. Especially since students have been at school
in person this year rather than online, the motivation to wake up and get ourselves to school is
quickly diminishing for the majority of us. So what are some things that we can do to get
through the last few months before summer break?
1. Recognize the symptoms
¨Work hard, play hard” is a saying that we´ve all heard at some point in our lives, along with constantly being told to push ourselves and although this mentality can certainly be a good thing, operating at this level for long periods of time is not sustainable. Eventually, being overworked, undersleeping, poor nutrition, or whatever it is that we are sacrificing to ¨work hard¨ will catch up to us. According to Smith´s (1998) Cognitive-Affective Stress Model, burnout comes as a result of stress from situational demands over a prolonged period of time. Physical and mental consequences associated with this are sleep deprivation, change in eating habits, and a weakened immune system. Signs that we are experiencing burnout also include feeling tired most of the time, frequent headaches, self-doubt, poor performance, and lack of productivity. For the fourth quarter, we should change our expectations of ourselves and simply allow a break every now and then for much more sustained energy levels and production.
2. Realign goals and expectations of yourself
Once we have recognized that we´re experiencing burnout, try to relax, take a break, and readjust your mindset. Maybe we feel burnt out because of too much homework and not enough time. Then we should make a list of the things we have to do and space out time to get them done without letting the work pile up. Sometimes burnout is a result of too many obligations, so we need to figure out what things are really important to us and what we can let go from our schedule to free time up for ourselves.
3. Figure out your ¨how¨ and ¨why¨
After realigning our goals, we are going to need to have a clear reason to accomplish them. Such as, if the goal is to get all As in this last quarter, the “how” could be to keep a planner with your assignments, prioritize studying and talking with teachers or take a break when feeling overwhelmed with work. While the ¨why¨ might be that we want our GPA to be better. One could even set up a reward system to keep motivated and provide things to look forward to. Like, in this example, for every A received on a test or quiz, there can be a reward of getting a favorite meal or going to a favorite place.
4. Prioritize daily time for yourself
While reaching goals is great, balance is also very important. Daily you should have enjoyable moments to yourself or ¨timeout¨ to refocus and do things like meditation, yoga, or a hobby that you love. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes, giving yourself time to do something that you enjoy can be so helpful to mental and physical well-being.
5. Keep up with good sleep and eating habits
Just like you wouldn’t let someone you love go without sleep or have bad eating habits. You should treat yourself with the same care as you would your best friend. At times, we can get so busy that we forget to take care of ourselves. If something that you are struggling with is getting enough sleep, you need to figure out what is causing this and fix it. If being on your phone is keeping you up, then try to turn it off around 9:30 or 10 and instead read a book before bed, so that you can get the recommended amount of sleep needed. If you find that you aren’t eating lunch because there isn’t time to pack it, make yourself lunch the night before. Just like a car, providing yourself with sufficient and the right kind of fuel is crucial to running properly.
You can combat burnout by taking time away from activities that cause stress, setting limits, organizing priorities and keeping good habits. However, if these things aren’t helping take away any stress and you are still not feeling better, make a trip to a doctor to ensure that everything is okay.