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August 11, 2022

Understanding And Treating Academic Burnout

Ayesha Hussain

A female student is falling asleep on school books due to academic burnout.

Recognizing Academic Burnout Is Key To Overcoming Its Hold On You

Feeling tired and burned out from school? Perhaps you’re feeling unmotivated to do the work or “over it”? You may be experiencing academic burnout. Many students struggle with academic burnout at some point during their education. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to manage and even overcome academic burnout.

What is academic burnout?

Academic burnout is marked by feelings of emotional exhaustion, reduced ability, lack of motivation, depersonalization and frustration. It often occurs when academic and personal responsibilities become overwhelming over a prolonged period of time. Rather than a temporary feeling of frustration with school, academic burnout is more of a chronic condition. 

What does it look like?

It’s important to be able to recognize academic burnout in order to address it. Symptoms of academic burnout may include:

  • insomnia
  • depression
  • anxiety 
  • inability to meet academic deadlines
  • decreased confidence in your abilities
  • lack of motivation to attend classes
  • feeling fatigued regardless of how much sleep you’re getting
  • poor eating habits 

How can you manage academic burnout?

There are many ways to address and manage the symptoms of academic burnout. Here are our top five tips:

  1. Incorporate physical activity into your schedule in order to keep active and healthy. Regular exercise helps to break up your routine and has an abundance of health benefits, including:
  • better sleep
  • stress relief
  • more energy and stamina
  • improvement in mood
  • mental alertness and focus 

Even short and simple exercises benefit your mind and body in the short and long term.

  1. Go outside. Nature bathing has been shown to reduce stress levels in various studies. Inspired by the Japanese concept shinrin-yoku, which means “forest bathing” or “relaxing in a forest atmosphere”, the term nature bathing simply means spending time in nature and taking in the beauty of your surroundings. Try going to the park, hiking, or simply taking a walk down a quiet street and see the difference some fresh air can do for your mental health.

  1. Make time for your hobbies and favourite activities. With the exhaustion and busy lifestyle of a student, it can be hard to find the time for fun or for the activities that feed your soul. It’s challenging to give yourself permission to step away from your responsibilities and let yourself get absorbed in a “frivolous” activity you love (but won’t help you make the Dean’s List). But I promise you, by making time for the activities that inspire and refresh you, you’ll produce better quality work when you’re ready to get back to your studies.

  1. Schedule time with loved ones and lean into your support system. Spending time with our chosen families can help shake up your routine and prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness. Friends also increase our sense of belonging and purpose, increase happiness and reduce stress, which can give you a much-needed mental boost. Remember, your friends and family love you and want to support you. Sometimes you need to let them!

  1. Ask for help when you need it. Your educational institution offers support services to students experiencing mental health and other types of challenges. Speak to a counsellor, program advisor or your professors if you need some accommodations. There’s no shame in admitting you need a little extra time or support, and not feeling constantly under the gun can do wonders for your school-life balance and mental health. Speaking to a school counsellor or a mental health therapist also has many benefits and creates a safe space for you to explore your emotions.

If you need help managing academic burnout, or other mental health challenges like anxiety or depression, consider reaching out to a therapist. You don’t have to go it alone — book a free consultation today

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