Academic burnout is a term that gets tossed around a lot during college. Many students will equate it with the feeling they get right before a break or near the end of a semester, but that’s not all that it is. Academic burnout is continual stress that can really have a massive impact on all aspects of your life, not just your schooling.
It is crucial to take academic burnout seriously and treat it efficiently when it does show up. In this article, we’ll be talking about what precisely academic burnout is, as well as discussing some of the things that might cause academic burnout. We’ll help you learn to identify when you have academic burnout and even give you some tips on how to treat it.
What Does Being Burnout Mean?
Academic burnout is not something that happens overnight but is a long process that happens when multiple stressors occur at the same time and for an extended period of time. As the name suggests, the main stressors in academic burnout are academic or related to school. Still, other stressors can also contribute to the feeling of academic burnout.
Academic burnout often leaves students feeling very lackluster and stressed. They feel like everything is so overwhelming that it isn’t even worth trying anymore. Some students stop finding any motivation to do work or even go to class. Some students might start to lash out at others or even pull away from friends.
Although it can manifest itself in so many different ways depending on both the person and the circumstances, academic burnout is a real phenomenon. It’s even been recognized by the WHO, or the World Health Organization, as an occupational phenomenon. It is essential to understand the difference between regular academic stress and academic burnout, so you can help deal with it appropriately.
What Causes Academic Burnout?
Typically, the root cause of academic burnout is too much of something related to school. This could mean that you have spent months working on the same project to no end, making you feel like it isn’t even worth it to work on it. Perhaps you have just been studying for years at school and don’t feel like it’s getting you anywhere.
Academic burnout relates to academics, but it can have other pressures that make it worse. If you live in a stressful situation, you may be more likely to experience academic burnout than someone in a calm living situation. Although your living situation isn’t the cause of your academic burnout, it can be a massive contributing factor.
Of course, housing isn’t the only thing that can contribute to academic burnout. With the Covid-19 pandemic and the shift to online schooling, more and more students are feeling the symptoms of academic burnout simply from a lack of social interaction and motivation. While online schooling allowed us all to continue on in a sort of normal way, it did strip social interaction out of much of our daily lives. This can leave you feeling removed and isolated and can contribute heavily to academic burnout.
How Do You Know When You are Burnt Out?
It’s important to understand that academic burnout and feeling stressed and overwhelmed are not the same thing. Although you will feel stressed and overwhelmed if you are suffering from academic burnout, these are not likely the only things you will feel. It is perfectly normal to feel a lack of motivation every now and then during the school year, but if you are feeling it for weeks on end, then you might want to reflect on if you have academic burnout.
A good way to know if you are burnt out is to think about your motivation. What are you motivated to do? If you have a hard time thinking of something that you are motivated to do, you might be burnt out.
Another thing to take note of is what others are saying to you. If you find that a number of people start asking why you are so snippy, you might want to think about why you are coming across that way to others. This can also be a sign that you might be overworked and feeling burnt out because you lack the energy to engage in social interaction. There may be other reasons you are snippy, so don’t assume that you are burnt out just because someone says that.
What are the Common Signs of Academic Burnout?
Academic burnout looks different for every person, and other people exhibit differing amounts of symptoms, so if only some of these symptoms sound like you, you might still be suffering from academic burnout. Below are some of the most common signs that people report when they have academic burnout.
Lack of motivation to go to class
If you start to feel there isn’t a point in going to class, or you just can’t be bothered to get yourself out of bed to go to class, you may be experiencing academic burnout. Of course, every student feels this way at some point, but if you feel this way for weeks on end and in relation to every class you are taking, you may have a problem.
Lack of motivation to complete work
So many students are big procrastinators, and we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about the people who just can’t find any motivation at all to do the work. Maybe you’ve been working on the same big project for a few months and notice that over time you stop being excited as you used to when you sit down to work. Even when you learn something that should excite you, it just doesn’t. If this sounds like you, then you may be experiencing academic burnout.
Snapping at others or increased irritability
Being stressed about school can influence the way you act. If you start to notice that more things make you upset or your friends start asking what’s wrong, you may want to think about evaluating your life to see if you might be experiencing academic burnout. Of course, other things could cause you to feel and act this way, but academic burnout is a big reason, at least amongst students.
Increase of bad habits
Maybe your bad habit is eating junk food or staying up way too late. Whatever your bad habits are, if you notice them increasing, you may want to try to figure out why. For an overworked student, one of the biggest reasons why is academic burnout. A lack of motivation can spread throughout your life and can lead to you lacking motivation to fully take care of yourself.
Greater frequency of sickness
Many things contribute to someone getting sick, such as not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water, and being stressed for long periods of time. While it is common to get sick more at college than when you lived with your parents simply because you are exposed to more germs, if the frequency with which you get sick increases significantly, it could be a sign of academic burnout.
How to Deal with Academic Burnout: 5 Tips
There are so many ways that you can deal with or treat academic burnout, so we’ve just come up with our list of the top 5 ways you can recover from burnout.
Don’t ignore the signs.
The biggest thing you can do to deal with academic burnout is to not ignore the signs when they start popping up in your life. Ignoring the signs or convincing yourself that it isn’t a problem will only make the problem harder to deal with down the line. If you can catch burnout in its early stages, it is way easier to treat, so be aware of your body’s routine.
Ask for help
Once you’ve admitted that you have academic burnout, the best thing you can do is to ask for help. This could be from an advisor or counselor, but it could be from a professor, a parent, or a friend. Talking to someone who can help provide you with the support you need can go a long way towards recovering from academic burnout.
Start to treat the symptoms.
If your most prominent symptom is a lack of energy and motivation, start by taking better care of your body. Drink enough water, get enough sleep, and eat healthy foods to start, but you should also try to get outside for at least 30 minutes every day, both to break up your routine and to get some good sunlight. Treating the symptoms won’t fix the whole problem, but it will start to help make you feel better, which will give you enough energy to repair your academic burnout.
Take a break
This could be as simple as taking a weekend away from all of your work and stress to just reconnect with yourself or as complicated as taking a whole week off from school. It might seem counterintuitive to give yourself potentially more pressure when you return from your break in trying to catch up, but sometimes your body needs a change of space and a shift in energy to get it back on track.
Find the source of your stress.
Finding the source of your stress might be the hardest thing to do, but it also will be what helps prevent you from having academic burnout again. Once you are able to recognize what your principal stresses are, it can be easier to manage them or avoid them altogether in the future. This might take some time, but don’t feel like there is any rush in working through this journey.
Wrapping Things Up: Common Symptoms of Academic Burnout
Academic burnout is an occupational phenomenon that should be taken seriously. Academic burnout is far more common than many of us want to believe, and it shouldn’t just be written off as not putting in enough effort or just being stressed. Make sure you do the work to recognize the symptoms and adequately treat the academic burnout you might feel.
Just remember that everyone gets stressed, and it is ok to get stressed. The key to getting stressed in a healthy way that prevents you from developing academic burnout is to take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, exercise enough, drink enough water, and eat healthy food so you can take care of yourself throughout your education.