How Do You Deal with Academic Burnout?

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Whether it’s college or high school, things can get pretty frustrating at times. Do you wake up in the morning dreading the day at school in front of you? There are days when you feel like all you want to do is cozy up in that bed of yours and stay in for the whole day, but are you feeling that way daily?

If everything around you feels incredibly overwhelming, and the thought of going through your typical day at school is frustrating you, then something might be wrong. You might be experiencing academic burnout, which could happen when you feel like you cannot cope with things academically anymore.

While some people will tell you to brush it off and just solider through this period, that could quickly turn into a disaster, as academic burnout is not a joke, and if you believe you might be experiencing it, then read on to find out if you do, and ways to deal with it.

What is Academic Burnout?What is Academic Burnout?

The simplest way to define academic burnout is by describing it as an adverse emotional, physical, and mental reaction. It is often related to extensive study periods. That leads to irritation, inability to cope, lack of motivation, and reduced performance at school.

Academic burnout is not a condition that happens overnight; it results from weeks or months of intensive studying. It can be due to coursework, projects, reports, lectures, or continuous years of schooling without any proper break.

Do not confuse academic burnout with the typical frustrating feeling you have after long hours of studying. We all do get flustered when we work for multiple hours on end. However, this feeling is fleeting compared to academic burnout.

Academic burnout left untreated can cause multiple problematic psychosomatic problems. It is not a mere headache or some nausea; academic burnout has a lot of severe symptoms that can affect your daily life. Some academic burnout symptoms are:

  • Feeling of exhaustion even after sleeping for long hours
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation when it comes to studying, attending classes, and doing assignments
  • Easily irritated by others
  • Lack of inspiration and creativity
  • Losing confidence, especially academically
  • Inability to meet deadlines
  • Heightened feelings of tension and pain in the body; headaches, joint aches, muscles pain, or jaw tension

Symptoms will range depending on the person and may vary widely. However, if you believe you might have academic burnout, consult a therapist or an advisor at your school and talk about it.

What Causes Student Burnout?

What Causes Student Burnout?

Academic burnout is caused by a prolonged period of stress and anxiety from exams, assignments, too much course load, and the constant freak-out in a student’s head. Stressing out over a project does not equate to academic burnout.

An academic burnout could be caused by an immense amount of stress that goes on for too long, but they are not the same. To find out precisely what causes students to burn out, a 2006 study at the University of Southern Marine surveyed multiple students with academic burnout, and these were the results:

  • Less than 5% blame professors for being the cause of the burnout
  • The most consistent issue that surfaced was assignment overload. About half the students reported burning out due to excessive assignments and course load.
  • 5% of students admitted to having mental or physical issues
  • 13% of students attribute the burning out to lack of motivation
  • 25% of the students blame the burnout on outside influence such as financial trouble, family issues, time management problems, and other responsibilities

Would it be a surprise if we tell you that 30% of college students in the U.S. suffer from damaging effects of stress at any given time? You can now confidently say that academic burnout is a prominent issue amount the younger generations, and people should be more aware of it.

We also need to highlight the difference between academic burnout and academic stress. Academic stress is short-lived, but keep in mind that too much stress can also lead to academic burnout.

However, below we highlight the differences between academic stress and academic burnout:

Stress Burnout
Over-engagement Disengagement
Over-reactive Detached emotions
Urgency and hyperactivity Hopelessness
Loss of energy Loss of motivation
Anxiety Depression
Physical toll Physical, mental, and emotional toll

But then, dealing with academic stress is also slightly different compared to academic burnout. To deal with academic stress, things tend to be more stable for students who make a proper schedule, study on time, and maintain a balance.

If you want to learn how do you cope with academic stress, consider optimizing the resources and skills. Use the resources at the campus, be more social and join more activities, try to learn a new skill, and be easier on yourself.

How Does Burnout Affect Academic Performance?

How Does Burnout Affect Academic Performance?

Honestly, one of the students’ main issues is mental health issues. Students often brush things off to focus on their academic life, whether that is anxiety, depression, frustration, hostility, or other mental illnesses.

However, that never works out. A 2019 study reported that half the students are at risk of academic burnout at all times, and 20% are already suffering from academic burnout.

While students are trying their best to fight those feelings and work harder, it often backfires; students will do worse when they’re burnt out compared to when they’re not.

Burnout has been a prominent issue in the pandemic as well. Academic burnout during pandemic started surfacing due to lack of interaction with other students or professors. Moreover, numerous students felt lost or off-track due to the inability to interact and discuss information with other people appropriately.

If you’re still suffering from pandemic stress and are still studying through an online system, consider the following pieces of advice:

  • Self-regulate your behavior: stick to a specific, healthy schedule of studying, socializing, sleeping, eating, having fun, and interacting with others.
  • Regulate your academic life: find a proper plan through objectives, schedules, action steps, flexibility, and planning.
  • Exercise: get in some movement every day. You do not have to exercise for an intense hour every day; simple stretching and walking around would do.

5 Tips on How to Deal with Academic Burnout

5 Tips on How to Deal with Academic Burnout

Academic burnout can be a struggle, especially since it is not an easy feat, and it definitely will take some patience. However, it is entirely feasible as long as you follow a specific, healthy routine every single day. Talking to a professional always helps, as no one can help as much as an expert can.

Here are our top 5 tips on how to overcome academic burnout:


Acknowledge that you have a problem and be aware of yourself. The most important thing to do whenever you are faced with a problem is to realize what it is and urge to fix it. Wanting to deal with academic burnout is something you need to come to on your own without someone pushing you.

Set Reasonable Goals

We all know how unrealistic and overachieving we could be, right? You do not want to risk feeling overwhelmed all the time. Hence, instead of forcing yourself to finish many tasks, minimize them into something realistic. However, doing that will only set you back when it comes to academic burnout.

Avoid Procrastination

Learn how to say no to people sometimes. If people are constantly nagging you to go out and you often say yes, learn that it is acceptable to turn people down sometimes. Also, postpone watching that tv show until after you’re done with your studying. That way, you won’t feel bad later on about procrastinating.

Take Care of Your Body

That means multiple things. First of all, make sure you always get at least 7 hours of sleep (assuming you’re a college student around 18-25 years old). Moreover, cut down on that junk food and make your body feel lighter and happier. Don’t forget to get that 30-minute exercise each day. Taking care of both your mind and body will do wonders, we promise.

Talk to a Professional

The question of “how do you deal with academic burnout” cannot be answered in a few words. There sometimes is no easy way out of this. However, your counselor at college or a therapist will have a better approach. Also, do not forget that most colleges and universities offer accessible therapy sources for their students, so do not hesitate to make use of those!

Wrapping Things Up: How Do You Deal with Academic Burnout?

To conclude things, there is no easy way out of academic burnout. The first step is realizing you have an issue and acknowledging it, then working on it and bettering yourself.

Having academic burnout does not make you are a weak person. However, you do need to go easy on yourself, especially in times of extreme stress. Burnout is often the result of stress over long periods, so make sure you’re not drowning in coursework.

To deal with academic burnout, we first and foremost recommend talking to a therapist or a specialist. While it hopefully is a passing period, you do not want to risk this issue bothering you for even longer.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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