Feeling chronically exhausted and unmotivated in school? It might be burnout.
In the spring of 2021, 71% of surveyed students reported experiencing burnout. When surveyed last fall, 73% of college students said their stress levels had increased over the past year.
Chronic stress can lead to student burnout, a very real mental health issue. Burned-out students feel overwhelmed, tired, and uninterested in their studies. Despite all of this, many students feel they have to press on.
Don't let anyone tell you that "all students are tired" or "it's normal to get bored with school." Burnout is more than everyday fatigue or boredom — it's a chronic problem and a risk to your well-being.
Burnout is serious, but you can do something about it. The first step is to identify student burnout signs, which include:
Feeling tired all the time, even when you get plenty of sleep
Lacking motivation in your schoolwork
Failing to complete schoolwork on time
Losing confidence in your academic abilities
Skipping out on fun activities
Isolating from your friends
All of this can make you feel like you're failing, but that's not the case. You need to recalibrate.
It's important not to ignore feelings of burnout. Pushing yourself will make you feel worse and can lead to serious physical and mental health issues. If you're experiencing burnout, take a step back. Recognize that your health is your top priority, and you need to take some time and recover.
That doesn't mean you have to quit school, but it might mean reducing your workload. Here's how to figure out your next steps:
Give yourself daily downtime. This is the most important step. If burnout has taken your energy, don't expend more trying to fix it. Make time to rest every day.
Identify the source of the burnout. Ask yourself what's causing the burnout. Is it an overwhelming workload, too many classes, or something else?
Reevaluate your commitments. If you've taken on too much, think about letting something go. That might mean dropping a class, going part-time, or even choosing a different major or program.
Ask for support. If your school offers student support, let them know you're having trouble. They can guide you to helpful resources. They can even help you reevaluate your goals and adjust your plans if your current program no longer feels right.
The best way to deal with burnout is to stop it before it starts. If you're beginning to burn out, give yourself some time and space.
Spend time in nature. Being outside can reduce stress levels and help you feel more balanced.
Get enough sleep. It's not easy for students, but getting at least seven hours of sleep can help your brain recover after a tough day.
Get active. Physical activity releases pleasure chemicals in the brain and makes you feel good. It also sends oxygen throughout your body, helping you feel more awake and alert.
Make time for yourself. Set aside time every day to do something you enjoy.
Burnout doesn't have to define your student story. If you have access to student services like those available through MedCerts, use them. And remember to give yourself downtime — you deserve it!
Julie Campos is the Senior Director of Operations and Student Success at MedCerts. She brings over 14 years of experience in Online Higher Education in both Student Support and Enrollment and started her career at the University of Phoenix, serving most of her tenure as a student-facing leader.
Julie has her Bachelors of Liberal Arts in Political Science from the University of Texas at El Paso, and her Masters in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Her areas of expertise are student support in online higher education environments and working with nontraditional students. At MedCerts, she is focused on creating a pro-active student central support model for MedCerts students to reach their goals and has developed the MedCerts Student Support and Outreach Model, created MedCerts Student Success Advisor reports and Dashboards, as well as the Student Success Advisor Playbook. Her proactive approach to student support has been crucial in meeting MedCerts’ student’s needs, as well as completion and certification goals.
Julie has three children – a 10-year-old son and 12- and 4-year-old daughters, who keep her and her husband busy with sports. She is also an avid crafter with an entire room of her home dedicated to the hobby. In her free time, she enjoys teaching wreath making and even has a few “how-to” YouTube videos on the subject!