Burnout: hey, hey, my, my

I’m feeling like this photo I took of the sea lion captures the stress I am currently feeling about the slow pace of my writing. If only “flow” would possess me straight for four hours each day then I’d have this thesis done already.

Exams, thesis submissions, and essay deadlines - all of this on top of living through a pandemic in “unprecedented times”. Lots of wonderfully amazing things are happening around us all too - we’re not in a lockdown and we get to be in uni. Nevertheless, with all the pressure, it’s not startling to find out that there are those of us who are feeling stressed at the moment. 

I spoke to other students, both enrolled as undergraduates and post-graduates, and asked them what they thought burning out felt like. What would they do if they were feeling burnt out? Here are some of the things I gathered. Please note, the university offers support through counselling services. This article is merely a blog post and not intended to provide any advice but to share experiences. 

  • Some physical signs: feeling tired and drained most of the time; lowered immunity, frequent illnesses; frequent headaches or muscle pain; change in appetite or sleep habits.
  • Some emotional signs: a sense of failure and self-doubt; feeling helpless, trapped and defeated; detachment and feeling alone in the world; loss of motivation; increasingly cynical and negative outlook; decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
  • Some behavioral signs: withdrawing from responsibilities; isolating yourself from others; procrastinating, taking longer to get things done; using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope; taking out your frustrations on others; skipping work or coming in late and leaving early.

Connect. Reach out and turn to other people. 

Identify your stress cycle. Try and step back to see the patterns that lead you to a burnout with a non-judgmental perspective.

Manage your expectations of productivity. Are these expectations rooted in my values, or are some of these beliefs disconnected and unrealistic? Natural fluctuations in work schedules, moods, emotions and daily workflow are a part of life to embrace and not to judge harshly.

Listen to your critical needs. Do you avoid your needs and why? Like rest and self-care?

Some gentle affirmations:

  • My stress does not define me. I am more than what I do.
  • I nourish the habits that help me show up as my best self.
  • I am worthy and deserve time and space to recover.

There is no quick fix. Be gentle with yourself. Reach out to your peers, family members and friends.

Tagged in What messes with your head, self-care, mental health, Exams