How to Avoid Getting Burned Out in College
From exacting professors to a seemingly insurmountable pile of unfinished homework, it’s very easy for a college student to suffer serious burnout. However, there are several simple strategies help keep you at peak functioning over the long haul. Enrolling in a reasonable number of classes, using a day planner to keep on top of your schedule and remain socially active will help. Also good nutrition and regular physical activity will help you handle the stresses of higher education.
As a bonus, building good habits will also help you avoid a career burnout once you graduate. These same skills can be directly applied to the professional world. Whether you pursue public health jobs or enter the corporate world, you’ll be dealing with stress. Having the below strategies mastered will ensure a long and healthy career.
Don’t Overextend Yourself
The problem is all too common — new freshmen are highly motivated to graduate as quickly as possible, impress their friends and show the world what they’ve got. These noble motivations translate into an inflated course load. After just a few weeks, the stress of having too much to do will bring them dangerously close to their first burnout.
Solve this problem before it starts by taking no more than the recommended course load. Instead of trying to do it all now, focus on being successful in every class. Not a morning person? Schedule your classes for the time of day your mind is sharpest. Take a look at your overall schedule. Too many classes one day might make it difficult to maintain attention all the way through. Try to give yourself a little downtime between classes.
Purchase a day planner. While your smartphone, laptop and tablet likely have calendar/day planner applications, they’re easy to ignore. Instead, get in the habit of carrying a day planner. Take it with you to every class, and immediately note every assignment, project or exam. This you can see what’s on your schedule for the entire week or month. This helps you budget your time. If you are pursuing a human services degree online, cultivating good time management skills will be a valuable asset in your future.
Develop a Social Life and Good Health Habits
While most students don’t need to be reminded to play, there are some that do. Developing and maintaining a social life is crucial for avoiding college burn out. Being able to spend time with fellow students will help you relate to each other, de-stress together and make your college experience much more enjoyable. For some, it’s easy to become absorbed in your coursework, projects and exams and forget the fun aspects of college. Make time to attend the occasional party, get involved with campus communities and enroll in extracurricular clubs.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to stay fit and reduce stress. Most colleges provide free gym use to full-time students. If spending time in a gym is not for you, participate in a team sport, study a martial art or join a local yoga studio. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy enough to do regularly.
While many students subsist on pizza and instant ramen noodles, you’ll be much better off if you maintain a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, as the vitamins and minerals they provide will help keep you sharp. Try to eat high quality, lean meats and go easy on any type of processed food, soft drinks and sweets.
Burnout Is Not Inevitable
Contrary to popular opinion, college burnout is not inevitable. Carefully managing your time, maintaining an active social life and developing good health habits will help you avoid burnout in college and for the rest of your life. If you find yourself struggling, take a look at how you are living your life and see where you can make changes that will your life back into balance.
About the Author: Henry Wilson is a contributing writer and student advisor who counsels stressed out students. By asking them a few questions, he’s able to see what they need avoid burnout.