Ask any of my family or friends and they will tell you that I am the world’s biggest workaholic. If you are a fellow workaholic, then you’re probably prone to occasional burnouts too. Personally, I like to maintain a certain level of “busy” while still being able to have my free time. But I am the worst when it comes to taking on new challenges, especially when school or work related.
Now, it’s that time of the year when classes are starting to come to an end, exams are getting closer, and my master’s final project seems like a large beast that is out of control. On top of all the school work I find myself struggling to work in friends and other life chores. I have even started to mismanage my time scheduling and doing basic chores around my apartment, let alone grocery shopping. At this point, I truly feel like I am experiencing a burnout.
According to the Merriam – Webster dictionary, burnouts are, “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration”. There are many reasons a person may experience a burnout due to school, work, relationships, and so on.
Burnouts are not only bad for our health but also for the work we are trying to focus on. According to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of a burnout include but are not limited to: fatigue, insomnia, forgetfulness, physical symptoms, loss of appetite, anxiety, and depression.
It sometimes feels like I am the only one who ever experiences these burnouts. But then I started to wonder if anyone else felt a loss of control due to this. So, I decided to write out my 5 top tips to avoid burnouts.
#1 Time Management
Time management is a soft skill that requires concentration and practice. I first learned about the value of time management during my first semester of undergrad when I was taking 18 hours of credits. My best advice is to put all your mandatories (classes, meetings, doctor appointments) in a calendar to structure your full day.
Then, go one step further and schedule your time watching Netflix or going on trips, etc throughout your mandatories. You will really have to think, ‘do I really need to go out every Friday and Saturday for 4 weeks in a row?’ ‘Do I have enough time to watch that 4th episode of Friends?’
Structuring your day and time will truly help you feel organized and better able to conquer the day. Here are more helpful tips from the NHS on time management.
#2 Set Healthy Goals for Yourself the SMART Way
Goal setting may sound like something you do only for business classes or in a corporate workshop, but setting healthy goals can help you reach for something bigger. I find the easiest method for me is using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound) goals. For example, some SMART goals I have set for myself are to write at least 2 blogs a month (it is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). I also try to read at least 1 book a month (again this goal follows the SMART rules).
Now whether or not I actually achieve these goals is one thing, but the beauty in setting healthy goals is that you can roll them over to the next month or week. Personal goals should not weigh you down, but rather give you something to reach for and easily attain.
It may take a few goals to practice, but I believe you will figure out ones that work best for you. Here is an article from Harvard Health on ways to set healthy goals using the SMART tool.
#3 Get Enough Sleep
Really, this point cannot be stressed enough. It is so important, especially as a young person, to get enough sleep. I am talking a full 7-8 hours to maintain a good state of mental health. Not only will you be more productive during lectures and seminars but you will have more energy to spend time with friends!
In case you need a more credited voice to tell you to get more sleep, here is a link to the Mental Health Foundation on the importance of sleep!
#4 Set Aside “Friend Time”
Surround yourself with people who can relax you and make you feel comfortable and confident. Go see a movie, visit a museum, or experience a concert to get your mind away from work.
Here is a great article from Everyday Health on the importance of friendship.
#5 Set Aside “Me Time”
Remember that you are #1 and if you need a Netflix and stay in bed night, do it. Your well being is the top priority. Also, getting some exercise will help boost your creativity, especially walking outside and experiencing the outside world. Here is an article from Psychology Today about walking to boost your creativity and problem-solving skills.
I know that this time of the year can be very stressful and difficult to manage. But with some of these tools I hope you are now better equipped to take on the challenges ahead. Don’t forget that the University of Westminster has a great Counselling Service that is always there to help you no matter how big or small your concern may be.
Visit Rachel’s personal blog at jrachelwest.com/blog for more!