Preventing academic burnout

When I was completing my final year of my undergraduate degree in BSc Psychology, I experienced academic burnout. The pressure…

When I was completing my final year of my undergraduate degree in BSc Psychology, I experienced academic burnout.

The pressure of trying to complete my final year, finish my application for a masters course, and complete a volunteering placement to boost my CV became very overwhelming.

This led me to feeling exhausted, anxious, and generally stressed about my Psychology degree and my future.

To combat these feelings, I tried to push myself harder to succeed, but this impacted my mental health even further. 

How did I avoid academic burnout? Below are some tips!

Setting realistic goals and being kind to yourself

I came to university with the mindset that I must receive a First-class degree in order to be successful.

However, in third year of undergrad, this mindset became detrimental to my wellbeing and was not helpful towards my progress as I would feel bad about myself and discredit my achievements if I did not always receive a First-class mark on an assignment.

However, since shifting my mindset and realising that university and individual success is not only determined by grades – I am a much happier person and have less anxiety surrounding grades on my masters course!

Learn to say no

I had to learn to manage responsibilities well as this is an important factor in managing burnout.

During assignment season, I had to reduce my volunteering hours and felt bad to cut back on this commitment.

However, it is important to manage your own mental wellbeing first as this is vital in preventing burnout.

In my first and second year of university, I would always have a fear of missing out (FOMO) about not attending lots of social events if I wanted a night in, but this would mean I would attend and be stressed the next day I was behind on assignments.

My advice to students is it may be tempting or over-whelming to say yes to every night-out or social event, however always examine your own self-care and if you need a night in to prioritise yourself and your well-being, do not be afraid to!

What are the warning signs of academic burnout?

  • exhaustion
  • reduced enthusiasm about university
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • decline in academic performance

Symptoms of academic burnout

  • lack of motivation
  • lack of interest
  • reduced ability to focus
  • physical health difficulties
  • lack of creativity
  • decreased academic performance

What factors can contribute to academic burnout?

  • overwhelming amounts of work
  • lack of sleep
  • poor eating habits
  • concurrent family demands
  • limited or no physical exercise
  • poor time management
  • unrealistic goals.
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