In the US, we have a culture of burnout. We have a culture that expects us to live, eat, sleep, breathe, work, and school. This go, go, go style of living can be fun at times, but it can also be a huge contributing factor to experiencing burnout. In this article, we’ll be discussing what academic burnout is and how you can help minimize the feelings associated with it through our favorite tips and tricks to beat burnout.
What is Academic Burnout?
Academic burnout is a crisis that swept the nation during COVID but was present before COVID and will be present post-COVID as well. Academic burnout is characterized by feeling overwhelmed and unable to continue. Typically, people who experience academic burnout are those who buy into the overworked culture of today in which extra work is always expected.
Academic burnout symptoms include, but are not limited to, issues with sleeping, high-stress levels, unhealthy physical and mental habits, minimal social interaction, and a constant need to be doing something but not feeling like doing any of it. If you think that you have experienced academic burnout in the past or are experiencing it now, keep reading because we will give you our best tips and tricks to help crush that academic burnout!
How Common is Post Graduate Burnout?
Although it is quite common to experience academic burnout throughout your time in undergraduate college, possibly the most common time to experience it is directly after graduating, also known as post-grad burnout. The time directly after graduating is particularly susceptible to burnout because you have just pushed through a long and arduous process of finals, papers, and projects. After this is done, you may feel like you are overworked or burnt out.
The major challenge with post-grad burnout is that this is when you should be getting in the mindset of working again. You should be looking for jobs or internships or applying to grad school. Unfortunately, for many students, the last thing they want to do after graduating from college is to think about doing more work.
It is common for students to start off with a new wave of energy in grad school and quickly burn out due to high stress and high expectations. Oftentimes, this wave of burnout continues into graduate work. Combatting this burnout is essential to your success in grad school and beyond.
If you are able to understand what causes burnout and how to avoid it, you will be better prepared to enter the job force and set realistic expectations and boundaries for yourself. This process is not easy, though, and can take time, so try not to be too hard on yourself as you work through your own academic burnout.
What are the Causes of Post Grad Academic Burnout?
Post-grad academic burnout is caused by a lot of things, including too much work, too many competing activities, too long without a break, and a whole lot of other things. Generally, it is hard to pinpoint exactly why you are experiencing burnout.
Post-grad time is common for burnout because you have just finished up one hard challenge, undergrad, and are pushed straight into the next. Although this change is unavoidable, you can do a lot to help minimize your feeling of burnout during this time.
How Do Grad Students Deal with Burnouts: 7 Tips
There are lots of tips for overcoming burnout, especially during your time in grad school, and these are just our favorite ones. Grad school burnout is real and hard to combat, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a little bit to overcome your burnout, even with our tips. Here are our favorite tips and tricks on how to overcome academic burnout:
1. Learn how to say “no.”
Learning how to say no to people is hard. It might sound simple, but it can feel anything but simple when you are actually doing it. Despite spending so much of our childhood saying no and probably being told no, the word seems to be hard to use in an academic or professional setting.
There is a huge culture of overwork in our society that expects you to continue your work on the weekends or well into the evenings. Maybe you have meetings that are continually scheduled during your downtime. Whatever it is that you need to learn to say no to, you should feel empowered to do so.
The first time you say no to someone, you might feel like you are letting them down when you are just setting boundaries for yourself. You may say no to people and have them respond well, but you might also have people try to guilt trip you into saying yes. Make sure you have practiced saying no and sticking to it before this happens, and it will be way easier to set these boundaries.
2. Set boundaries for your academic life
Speaking of using no to set boundaries, now is a perfect time to discuss boundaries! Setting boundaries for yourself is essential to overcoming and preventing academic burnout. These boundaries don’t have to be as non-moving as a concrete wall but think of them as the line between your personal, academic, and professional lives.
Setting a boundary could mean deciding when you are willing to schedule meetings or picking a time each night to be officially done. Whether you are experiencing burnout because of a job or school, setting these boundaries to give yourself the time away from your work that you deserve is vital to overcoming academic burnout.
3. Take care of yourself physically.
Taking care of your body is an often overlooked part of overcoming burnout. Many people assume that burnout is only in their heads and will only affect them mentally, but this is not the case. Your body will begin to feel the effects of academic burnout as well.
Your body may feel sluggish or overtired all the time. You may feel bloated or gross in your body since you probably are not feeding your body healthy foods. Taking care of your body is essential to taking care of your mind, so make sure you don’t overlook it.
The best thing to do to start taking care of yourself physically is to go for a walk in nature. Not only will this get your body moving, but it will also allow you to experience all the positive feelings and emotions associated with green spaces and being in nature. Other ways to take care of yourself include:
- Going for a run or a bike ride.
- Going to the gym.
- Doing other physical activities that you enjoy.
4. Take care of yourself mentally.
Your mind will also need love and support as you overcome academic burnout. Setting boundaries will help, but make sure you give your brain all the tools it needs to recover as well. Eating good food, getting enough sleep, and drinking enough water is a great places to start.
Taking time to let your brain recover and calm down is the next step in taking care of yourself mentally. This could mean getting out in nature or doing yoga, or practicing mindfulness. All of these activities allow your brain to focus on the moment and calm itself, helping it reset and feel recharged.
5. Build up a support network
Having a good social support network is not only helpful when overcoming burnout but also an essential part of preventing burnout from rearing its ugly head again. Having people that you can turn to can make everything feel more manageable. If you are able to spend an evening with a friend at an event or dinner or just hanging out and not thinking about work or school, you will have given your brain a break from the stress and a massive endorphin rush.
But having a support network isn’t just about friends. Although friends can do a lot, you need to have a good relationship with your professors and employers, as these are really the people who can support you in changing things in your life to help you become a better you. Let them know how they can support you and that you are working hard both on taking care of yourself and on the work they assign you, but be clear about your boundaries. Most people will be receptive and more than willing to help you overcome your academic burnout.
6. Let yourself take breaks.
Taking breaks is one of the biggest things you can do to help your body reset and feel energized. Unfortunately, it is also something that we all tend to do relatively infrequently. Taking a break could be as simple as giving yourself a night off a week or keeping your homework to one day on the weekend, but it also could mean taking full days off.
Regardless of whether you are talking about a short or a big break, you may feel feelings of stress arise near the end of the break when you think about all the work you could have done during that time but didn’t. While this is common, it is something that you should try your best to avoid. By allowing yourself those negative mental thoughts, you are downplaying and degrading your brain’s need for a break.
Taking breaks can be hard, but it is something that everyone should do. There is a reason that jobs offer paid time off. Jobs know that employees who have time to take care of themselves and do things for themselves are more likely to be happy, stay at the job longer, and work more efficiently when they are at work. With so many reasons to take a break, it’s sometimes hard to see why we don’t all do it more!
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Our last, and possibly favorite, tip is to not be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help can be hard and scary, but you should feel empowered to do so. If you feel like your professors have given you too much work or that you won’t be able to take care of yourself at all with the work given, talk to them.
Asking for help doesn’t have to mean asking for extra time. It could just be asking for support. You could ask for support on a particularly challenging assignment at a job. Even something as simple as a verbal acknowledgment of your efforts can sometimes go a long way toward helping minimize the feelings of burnout.
How Long Does Post-Grad Burnout Last?
Post-grad burnout can last anywhere from days or weeks to years. The duration of time that you experience post-grad burnout is up to you. The faster you start taking care of yourself and setting clear boundaries, the faster it will go away. If you need to, you can even change jobs or schools to help mitigate post-grad burnout.
Wrapping Things Up: 7 Tips for Overcoming Post-Graduate Burnout
Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be hard, but we tend to make it that way in the US. With so many people experiencing burnout, it can seem near impossible to avoid it or minimize its feelings and symptoms, but we know you can. With our helpful tips and tricks, you will be well on your way to crushing academic burnout!
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