6 Ways to Prevent Burnout as a University Student
Glendon student Naima shares her best advice on keeping healthy and fresh, despite the stressors of university life.
By Naima Sood, student at Glendon Campus, York University.
Living at the tail end of the pandemic era, we're all experiencing some degree of burnout. Even before the pandemic, burnout was on the rise. But what is burnout?
What is burnout?
According to Psychology Today, burnout is defined as "A psychological state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by repeated amounts of stress."
Burnout often comes with physical symptoms, like fatigue and a lack of coordination. But for me it's also the feeling of being unappreciated and being hard on yourself. Stress and anxiety has become another form of pandemic.
As students, we experience it even more: assignment deadlines, online school, commuting, part-time jobs — whew! The cycle just never ends. It's important to listen to your body and understand when it is time to pause, reset, and rejuvenate.
I recently had a wonderful opportunity to talk to Gauhar Shariff, Manager of the Glendon Wellness Centre, to understand how one can work on preventing themselves from reaching the burnout stage. The Centre offers short-term counseling sessions depending upon the needs of the student, as well as community supports for issues of longer duration. It's important sometimes to talk to someone to figure out how to manage your stress and keep from burning out.
Being at the Glendon Campus helped me understand that reaching out for help when I'm feeling stressed isn't a bad thing — the service is confidential, but I'm happy to share my experience below, in the hopes it might help other students.
The stigma attached to seeking help is slowly changing, with more emphasis placed on good mental well-being. The Glendon Accessibility, Counselling, and Well-Being Centre taught me many techniques to manage my stress.
Here are the top self-care techniques I use to keep myself mentally happy.
Consider joining a student run meditation club like I did. Glendon students join for an opportunity to de-stress together. Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique — such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object or thought. Practicing 15 minutes a day of this technique calms your mind, clears your thoughts, and reduces anxiety.
Journaling helps us process our emotions. It's been shown to help with your mental health by channeling your negative emotions in a positive and healthy way. Taking a pen and writing down everything you're feeling helps lessen the load on the mind and releases positive emotions.
Research has shown that being in a state of gratitude helps rewire the brain to positive thoughts. Keeping a gratitude journal helps me remember the little things that I should value in my life. Here are a few examples from my gratitude journal:
- the value of having an opportunity to study abroad
- the meal that I had today which provided my body with enough nutrients to keep myself energized for my day
The things you're grateful for don't have to be world-changing! They just have to matter to you.
Create a self-care routine
Take some time to care for your body by creating a morning or early evening routine. Think about how you can wind down after a productive day; maybe make a cup of herbal tea, light a scented candle and read a book, or do a face mask. Allow your brain some time to unwind before resting.
It's important to create a list of all the important things you have to do — and do them early. Have a day planner where you schedule your important events and due dates, giving yourself ample time to plan your assignments — and do them well — without stressing.
Create a healthy diet and eat the right nutritious food to help keep your body healthy and happy. Eating well leads to an increase in productivity and allows for the mind to work better and improve memory.
Fatigue increases when proper nutrition is lacking! Have a grocery list ready for all the ingredients you need, set out a dedicated cooking time, and create healthy meals for the week ahead. Be sure to get a balance of proteins, like chickpeas and tofu, veggies, like broccoli and kale, and carbs, like whole-grain rice and bread.
Don't ignore the signs that your body gives you when you feel yourself getting burnt out. Listen to your body and ask for help — slow down, take care of yourself, and you'll soon feel energetic and happy!
Check out the Glendon Health and Wellness site