Are you a student feeling less motivated than usual to do school work? Do you experience signs of being irritable or easily triggered? It may be academic burnout. Yes, academic burnout is a real condition that affects many students all around the world. Unfortunately, many people do not realize it until it has caused severe havoc. If you are experiencing academic burnout, don’t fret. It is diagnosable and even treatable. This article offers everything you need to know about academic burnout, including available scientific tools to diagnose it and steps you can take to overcome it.
What Does Academic Burnout Feel Like?
The first part of taking care of academic burnout is recognizing and acknowledging the condition before committing to change your habit. But the first question most people often ask is what academic burnout even feels like. Here, let’s try to answer that.
Academic burnout is best defined as a negative emotional, mental, and physical reaction to prolonged studies, often resulting in frustration, exhaustion, reduced ability, and lack of motivation to do school work. It is usually a result of studying the same material or working on the same project for a very long time. Please note that this is Different from the occasional feeling of frustration that comes with rushing to cover up a study material in preparation for a test or exam. Instead, it is a more chronic condition that comes from studying for too long.
Symptoms of Academic Burnout
Several academic burnout research findings show the symptoms of academic burnout to be more than just tiredness and reluctance to attend another class. We often see burnout causing real, psychosomatic issues like headaches, depression, and insomnia. The best way to avoid getting to this level is to begin attempting to reverse academic burnout as soon as you notice the symptoms.
To help you know what academic burnout feels like, here is a list of some of the most common symptoms to expect:
- An intense feeling of exhaustion, irrespective of how much rest or sleep you get. This feeling would often result in fatigue or insomnia
- Lack of motivation to do assignments or attend classes
- Developing a tendency to Kash out on people or increased irritability usually as a result of frustration
- Lack of inspiration and creativity to contribute to classroom discussions and group projects
- Continually losing confidence in one’s academic abilities
- Not being able to meet deadlines
- Frequent illnesses often attributed to stress and exhaustion
- More pain in parts of your body, which is often manifested as headaches, jaw tension, or sore muscle aches
- Developing habits like nail-biting, overeating, not sleeping early, etc.
- Anxiety and depression.
How is Academic Burnout Typically Addressed?
The hard truth that we can’t escape from is that burnouts are inevitable in an academic environment. Usually, the high demands of academic work can easily combine with the additional stress we have at home to cause burnout. But don’t stress it, there are so many ways you can deal with it. Here, let’s review some of them.
Make a list of the things that are causing you stress and worry
One of the easiest ways to deal with any problem is to identify the problem. The same goes for academic burnouts. Identify the things that are making you feel uneasy and write them out. On each point, write down possible ways to reduce its impact.
- Stressor: You are battling to combine other works with meeting up with a deadline
- Resolution: Rearrange your timetable to have different times set aside for different works.
Get a support system that can offer help
Yes, life on campus and the independence that comes with it can be intoxicating. But still, we recommend temporarily going back home once in a while.
Spending time with your family would take some pressure off your shoulders because they’ll be able to support you. Support can come in different ways. It could be something as small as helping with your washing, so you’ll have enough time to focus on other things.
You could also get support from friends and hostel mates. Some schools even have departments dedicated to offering students academic, financial, and mental support.
We often see students struggling to take sufficient breaks. This remedy is vital for moments when you want to study long. Breaks can come at any time, as long as it allows you to refresh your brain. Here are some tips that could help.
- Schedule time in your calendar when you can relax and pursue activities that can help you relax
- Apply the spaced repetition strategy when studying for more effective learning and retention
- Aim to go to sleep and wake up at the same time daily.
- Stand up from your reading table every once in a while to get fresh air outside.
Set realistic goals
Always remember that you can’t outdo yourself. Every day has 24 hours, and every semester has its number of days. When setting goals or deciding how to complete a task, be realistic about it. Divide the task into modules and apportion enough time to finish it.
For instance, if you intend to finish a textbook before your exams, divide it into chapters and apportion time to complete each chapter. Accept that you have limitations. Pushing yourself beyond your limits can get you sick or cause you not to accomplish your tasks.
How to Measure Burnout for Students?
The problem with burnout is that people hardly recognize it in themselves. Most times, it takes flatmates and classmates to see how edgy you’ve become lately or how short-tempered you are becoming. Yes, all these symptoms indicate that you are experiencing burnout. But beyond the symptoms, you want to know the exact level of burnout you are experiencing in order to understand how to tackle it. Unfortunately, not many people can measure academic burnout in students.
To measure academic burnout, you’ll need to answer questions like your burnout experience? What causes it? Why is it a problem? Etc. Answering these questions need research tools, and that’s why the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) was created in the late 1970s. The MBI has become famous for the measurement of burnout across different sectors. It was the first scientifically developed measure of burnout.
It’s worthy of note that the MBI aligns with the WHO 2019 definition of burnout. The MBI assesses each of these three dimensions of burnout separately. The format adopted by the MBI emerged from prior explanatory work on burnout in the 1970s. The format used interviews with workers, on-site workplace observations, and case studies to review the extent of burnout.
Since its initial creation, the MBI has been modulated into different versions. One of such versions that have become very popular in the academic world is the Maslach Burnout Inventory – Student Survey (MBI-SS).
Like most other versions of the MBI, this version yields three scores for each respondent: exhaustion, cynicism, and reduced efficacy. There’s usually a continuous series of the MBI-SS scoring key that lists frequency scores from more positive to more negative. A more negative score in all dimensions usually represents a profile of burnout.
What is a Burnout Assessment Tool?
Burnout assessment tools are usually structured screening and assessment tools used by educational psychologists and other professionals to help students and teachers measure academic burnout statistics and develop the right plans to help. As explained in the previous section, the MBI was the first scientific burnout assessment tool known to humanity. However, over time, several other tools have been developed to measure academic burnout in students. Some of the most popular academic burnout tools include:
Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI)
The MBI is the industry standard and has gained popularity over time. It is a 22-item scale designed to measure depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and personal accomplishment.
Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI)
The OLBI is a burnout measurement tool that contains statements to cover both ends of the exhaustion-vigor and cynicism-dedication continua.
This tool presents the subject with a series of 16 statements, which they may agree or disagree with. It also quizzes them to indicate the extent of agreement or disagreement to the statements.
Wrapping Things Up: Academic Burnout Scale: How to Measure It
That’s it – a detailed review of academic burnout and how to measure it. Academic burnout is a real condition that many students experience in their lifetime. Unfortunately, not many people know how to measure academic burnout or what to do to salvage the situation.
Throughout this article, we’ve reviewed what causes academic burnout, some of the symptoms you’ll notice, and how to deal with it. Most importantly, we’ve also reviewed some academic burnout measurement tools that can help you know the extent of your burnout. Knowing the extent of your burnout can help you choose the right strategy to deal with it. Remember, nothing beats talking to a professional about your problem. So, if you’re experiencing symptoms of academic burnout, talk to your school’s counselor about it.