Academic pursuits are a time to challenge yourself to learn new skills and broaden your knowledge. However, if you’re juggling coursework, a job, family life and other activities, you’re at risk of academic fatigue. This is a chronic condition in which you feel exhausted from studying, pessimistic about coursework, and anxious about self-worth.
Mental health is as important as physical health, so you can’t maintain peak wellness if you’re burned out with school responsibilities. Here are the signs of academic fatigue and top solutions for staying sharp during your studies.
Academic fatigue is worse than stress. Everyone feels stress occasionally, whether at school, work or home. If you have academic burnout symptoms, you’ve gone beyond normal stress to stress that overshadows your life. You may have academic burnout if you have any of the following signs:
Lack of motivation: You’re no longer motivated to attend class, regardless of whether it’s in person or online. Often, you lose interest in friends and social events.
Inability to focus: You lose your concentration quickly, struggling to focus, complete tasks or come up with creative ideas.
Decreased academic performance: Your struggles to meet deadlines and attend class begin to reflect in your grades, lowering your GPA.
Frequent illnesses: Along with frequent sickness, you feel pain and tension that never lessens.
Exhaustion: Regardless of how much sleep you get, you feel drained and struggle throughout the day.
Noticeable irritability: You’re often frustrated and angry with friends, family and classmates without cause.
Anxiety or depression: You feel like you’re spiraling downward in your academic and personal life. You might experience emptiness, negativity or feelings of fear or dread.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms is the first step in overcoming academic fatigue. Sometimes, you find out because a friend or roommate expresses concern about your health. Once you understand the signs, you can begin to focus on the solutions.
1. Set realistic goals: It’s easy to have broad-reaching academic goals, but you’ll backtrack if you try to do too much. Focus on what’s reasonable, not what’s expected.
2. Know your daily limits: You are human, not a machine. Everyone needs to stop when they reach their limits. You can create priority lists to help you achieve the most important tasks of the day — anything that doesn’t make the cut can happen tomorrow.
3. Schedule in breaks: The chance to reboot can do wonders for your body and mind. Breaks help you disengage so that you come back refreshed. Interestingly, studies show that wakeful rest is vital for helping your brain establish memories of what you just learned.
4. Reach out for support: Connect with your classmates and instructors if you feel burned out. A trusted educator or friend can be invaluable for working through your struggles.
5. Incorporate self-care: Physical exercise is good for your overall wellness. So is a healthy diet. Combine these habits with seven to nine hours of sleep to help you manage stress at school.
6. Find your mental peak: Everyone has a different time of day in which they’re most alert. If you’re struggling to find yours, use a note app to help you keep track. Your mental peak is the best time for activities that require the most focus.
If you’re struggling through your studies, you might have academic fatigue. Start by knowing your limits and when to step back. With proper self-care, support and realistic goals, you can rediscover your thirst for knowledge.
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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!