Preventing burnout as the academic year wraps up

Grace Berchem

It’s that time of year again. With the end of the school year and all of the chaos that comes with it fast approaching, everyone is starting to feel the strain. And to make matters worse, our friends at schools on semester schedules are already out for summer.

So while you’re busy pulling all-nighters at the library and watching the work pile up, everyone else is busy posting the pictures from their latest adventure to Facebook. It’s the perfect storm for what experts call “burnout.”

What is burnout exactly? Burnout is a condition closely linked to stress.

As former RHD Brandon Parrott-Sheffer put it, “Burning out is what happens when stress lasts too long. After this period of prolonged stress, you start to care a lot less and may find it hard to motivate yourself about anything.”

Burnout is characterized by disengagement from activities, dulled emotions, hopelessness or helplessness and a loss of motivation. If left unaddressed, burnout can lead to depression, so it’s important to seek help right away or figure out other ways to alleviate the stress.

Last week, the Center for Teaching and Learning held a workshop called “Preventing Burnout” led by Kohler and Draheim Residence Hall Director and Program Assistant to the Center for Teaching and Learning Chris Conrad. At the workshop, Conrad discussed ways students might combat burnout. So how can you fight burnout? 

First, it’s important to prioritize your time. Stay focused on important responsibilities, and take a break from less important activities. If you don’t already, consider keeping a planner. Second, if things have become too stressful, try to find a way to adapt. 

As Conrad put it, “Reframe problems, consider different solutions and seek input from people with a variety of perspectives. Find ways to delegate, if possible.”

Even when things look tough, make sure you keep a positive perspective; there’s always a way to look at the bright side. It’s important to learn to accept a situation for what it is and understand that there are some things that are simply out of your control. 

However, it’s still important to express yourself and share these feelings with others. Take the opportunity to reach out for support and lean on a friend. Finally, promoting wellness is key. It’s extremely important to take the time to take care of yourself and your health. 

As Conrad suggested, “Make time for exercise, sleep and healthy meals. Maintain a sense of humor.”

At the workshop, Conrad also covered the “don’ts” when it comes to preventing burnout. First and foremost, it’s important not to take on too many responsibilities.

Students are also advised not to sacrifice wellness under any circumstances. Never sacrifice sleep or a healthy sleep schedule. In addition, even in the most stressful situations, you shouldn’t resort to abusing alcohol or any other drugs. 

You should also make sure to give yourself a break every now and then; seeking perfection and control in all situations can be very dangerous to one’s well-being. On this same note, self-deprecation is a serious “don’t.”

Finally, many have a tendency to shut people out when we most need their help. It’s important not to fall into this trap and not neglect our friends, or in other words, our support networks. 

Remember that burnout is something that everyone has dealt with at some point. You are not alone and, more importantly, this is something that can be easily addressed by making a couple tweaks to your schedule and perspective.

If the chaos of the end of the school year is getting the best of you, make sure to reach out to family and friends. 

Also remember that there are countless resources at your disposal in the form of Counseling Services, the CTL and other organizations you may be a part of, as well as your friend group.

Students who are worried they might be suffering from a prolonged case of burnout are urged to seek help from Lawrence’s Counseling Services at (920) 832-6574. Don’t let burnout keep you from finishing off the school year on a high note.