Burnout is “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration,” according to Merriam-Webster. If this definition applies to you, you’re not alone. College students across the globe recently concluded that 2020 has been the most challenging and mentally-exhausting year to date due to the pandemic. Virtual schooling led to countless hours in front of computer screens, limited interaction with classmates, and an overall sense of disconnectedness from society. In essence, students endured over a year’s worth of prolonged stress and frustration. With the academic year behind us and enriching summer opportunities in front of us, it is time to beat the burnout once and for all. Here’s how to do it:
Congratulations, you did it! Give yourself credit for every assignment turned in, early morning Zoom class attended, essay written, internship applied for, leadership position earned, and so on. Take pride in every win of the past year, big or small. Throughout the summer, catalog your accomplishments in order to show yourself what you are capable of, even in times of stress.
Now that most jobs can be done digitally, technology has an even bigger presence in our lives. Incorporate breaks into your schedule to avoid future burnout. Aside from taking breaks, be sure to track your time spent on work projects and assignments to ensure that you are not overworking yourself. In this digital landscape, it is easy to feel like you are always on call. Enjoy when you are not on call and remember you do not have to respond to every email right as it hits your inbox. Make sure to carve out your work schedule and stick to it, whether that means creating an hourly schedule for yourself or setting digital reminders to help you through. Know when to take the blue light glasses off, close your laptop for the day, and unwind.
Between work, school, and recreation, our phones have become our everything. Constant technology use produces burnout and depletes mental health. Once your work is done for the day, get lost in a good book. Feel free to start small with a chapter or two per day in order to build the habit. I’m sure you have some unread novels yearning to be picked up. If you need some ideas, however, check out the 10 best beach reads for summer 2021, according to Goodreads.
As we all know, physical activity is great for the body and mind. Carving out time every day to work on you for you will keep you feeling energized and aid in maintaining work-life balance. Try out the new cycling studio you keep driving by, go for a walk during your lunch break, swim in the ocean on your beach days, or do a quick yoga video before bed. Physical activity doesn’t have to be high energy so there is no need to push yourself. Pick an activity that fits well into your schedule and makes you feel good.
If you can’t beat the burnout, ask for help. If your job is causing burnout, speak with your manager to see if any tasks can temporarily be assigned to someone else. If your classes are causing burnout, meet with your professors and discuss assignment extensions if necessary. At the very least, feel safe confiding in someone if the burnout becomes unmanageable. Students, professors, and professionals alike have endured periods of burnout both prior to and during the pandemic. More often than not, you will be met with kindness and understanding when broaching this subject. If that is not the case, you can always assess your options to find the best solution for you.
Cat Kalogeros is a communications and public relations double major at the University of Rhode Island. Cat is also pursuing double minors in English and writing and rhetoric. She currently serves as the 2021–2022 vice president of brand engagement for the PRSSA National Committee. Outside of PRSSA, Cat is the director of career and personal development for her chapter of Chi Omega. She aspires to use her public relations skills to tell stories in the entertainment industry. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.