It’s no secret that college can be stressful. Balancing classes, homework, extracurriculars, and a social life can be a lot to handle, and it’s not uncommon for students to feel overwhelmed. When stress levels get too high, it can lead to burnout.
When it comes to college students, burnout is all too common. In fact, a recent survey found that nearly 1 in 3 college students said they have experienced symptoms of burnout. And with the added stress of the pandemic over the past few years, those numbers are likely higher.
Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that is caused by prolonged or chronic stress. When someone is experiencing burnout, they may feel like they’re constantly running on empty and like they can’t keep up with the demands of their life. If left unchecked, burnout can lead to serious health problems, both physical and mental.
What Causes Burnout?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to burnout in college students. Some of the most common causes include:
- Having too much on your plate:
When you’re trying to balance classes, homework, extracurriculars, and social life, it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly running around with no time to rest or relax. This can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out, which can eventually lead to burnout.
- Not having a support system
It’s important to have people in your life who you can rely on for support when times get tough. Without a supportive network of family and friends, it can be easy to feel isolated and alone, which can make dealing with stress more difficult.
Many college students are perfectionists who put a lot of pressure on themselves to succeed academically. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do well in school, setting unrealistic expectations for yourself can lead to feelings of disappointment and failure if you don’t meet them.
- Poor self-care:
When you’re busy with schoolwork and other obligations, it’s easy to let your own needs fall by the wayside. But neglecting your own physical and mental health can make it harder to deal with stressors in your life and can contribute to burnout.
- Financial stress:
For many college students, money is a major source of stress. Worrying about how you’re going to pay for tuition, books, and other expenses can take a toll on your mental health and make it difficult to focus on your studies.
- Relationship problems:
Whether it’s fighting with roommates or having tension with family members back home, relationship problems can add extra stress to your life and make it harder to cope with everyday challenges.
Fortunately, there are things that students can do to prevent or reduce their risk of burnout.
How To Prevent Burnout
There are a number of things that college students can do to prevent or reduce their risk of burnout. Some helpful tips include:
Get organized and establish a routine:
One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to get organized and create a routine. This includes establishing regular study times, breaks, and mealtimes. It’s also important to have a designated workspace where you can focus without distractions. If possible, try to stick to the same schedule on weekdays and weekends so that your days off don’t feel too different from your school days. Counseling can help with creating an organizational routine for college students.
Connect with others:
Spending time with friends and family members can help reduce stress levels and promote positive emotions. Whether you stay in touch via text messages, social media platforms, or face-to-face conversations, quality interactions with others are crucial for maintaining mental health during college years. Counselors suggest joining clubs/activities on campus that offer opportunities for socializing.
Set realistic goals for yourself:
Perfectionism is one of the leading causes of burnout in college students so it’s important not to set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Instead of aiming for perfection, try focusing on doing your best and taking things one step at a time; this will help reduce feelings of pressure and stress.
Make time for yourself:
It’s important to schedule some time each week where you can relax and do something that you enjoy without any obligations or responsibilities. This may mean taking an hour out of your day to read a book, go for a walk outside, or watch your favorite TV show; whatever helps you unwind and de-stress.
Practice healthy self-care habits:
Make sure you’re getting enough exercise and sleep, eating healthy foods, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Taking some time for yourself each day – even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes – can help reduce stress levels and improve your overall mood. Counseling can assist in developing physical wellness habits while attending college.
Set boundaries with technology:
A big contributor to burnout is overexposure to technology such as phones, laptops, tablets, etc. Try setting specific times when you will check email or social media accounts, rather than letting them consume your entire day (or night). Putting away all electronics at least an hour before bedtime will help you get a good night’s sleep and be more rested for class the next day. Online counseling can assist in developing ways to regulate screen time/technology usage.
Avoid overscheduling yourself:
Finally, one of the biggest causes of burnout among students is trying to do too much at once. When you find yourself constantly stretched thin between classes, work commitments, extracurricular activities, and social engagements, it becomes difficult to maintain focus or motivation in any area of life. Let go of some obligations every once in a while so that you have time for restorative activities like relaxation exercises, reading, or simply taking a nap.
One of the best things that college students can do is to seek out counseling services. Counseling can help students manage their stress in healthy ways and can teach them coping skills when times get tough. Online counseling services are a great option for busy college students who don’t have time to come into an office for appointments. If you’re struggling with stress or anxiety, consider reaching out to an online therapist; they can provide the support and guidance you need to get through this tough time and avoid burnout.