Reading week is finally here, which means we can take some time off to relax! That being said, I found these first couple months of school very long and exhausting. I’m taking five challenging courses, in addition to being involved in multiple extracurricular activities. Preventing burnout is thus one of the key things I’ve had to do this year.
Burnout is defined as a reaction to prolonged periods of work, and leads to feelings of exhaustion, cynicism, and inability. For me, there were a couple key things I had to do in order to prevent burnout.
Take time off.
Taking time off may seem like a cliche solution to burnout, but for me, it was so important. No matter the amount of work I had in a week, I would always take one night completely off, usually on Wednesday. I would make an active effort to not think about school at all during this time, and would instead spend the night hanging out with friends or relaxing on my own.
Even if this meant I had to do more work later, I found that it was much easier to avoid burnout by working hard sometimes, and taking time off otherwise, instead of consistently working at a less intense rate. Of course, this can vary for each person, so it’s important that every person realizes what their body needs in order to prevent burnout.
Get enough sleep.
Sleep was another huge change I made this school year which was very helpful for preventing burnout. At the beginning of the year, I made a commitment to get eight hours of sleep per night, no matter the amount of work I had to do. I kept this promise, and found it super helpful.
Being well rested allowed me to get work done more efficiently. It also helped keep my mood stable and prevented unnecessary stress. By not being sleep deprived, I realized that the amount of work I had was doable, that it would get done, and that school was not worth sacrificing my health over.
Finally, making sure I stayed realistic about expectations for myself helped me a lot. Though I always kept a commitment to work as hard as I could, it was helpful to remember that school was not the only important thing in my life. Taking time off, looking after myself, and enjoying my life were equally important goals.
Rethinking this allowed me to create a healthier work-life balance, and to not stress out about work unnecessarily, by placing unneeded pressure on myself.
At the end of the day, I always try to remember that no matter how important school may seem in the moment, it’s not worth sacrificing my health or happiness for. Taking time off and looking after myself may prevent burnout, but it’s also just an important part of living a healthy and happy life.