Burnout happens due to a mix of work and home life pressures, when you go back to school as an adult student, your risk of getting burnout will increase, due to the number of responsibilities you have in your life, so how to avoid burnout if you are an adult student?
Students are among the group of people prone to burnout. Burnout is a state of mental, physical, or emotional exhaustion.
More specifically, in May 2019, the World Health Organization defined burnout specifically as ‘energy depletion, or exhaustion, increase the mental distance from job, negativism, or cynicism and reduced personal efficacy.
Burnout in Students, What You Need to Know
Burnout itself is different from stress. According to this article by NHS Leadership Academy, stress is the impact of there being “too much”. Too many demands, too many changes, too much to do, and too many decisions to make.
Chronic stress has the potential of depleting your energy, undermining your belief in your abilities and efficacy, and can lead to burnout.
Burnout, on the other hand, is feeling there is just ‘not enough. Not enough time, energy, enthusiasm, ability, and not enough inner resource.
It is commonly described as ‘being emotionally drained’, ‘feeling empty, or ‘just not being able to be me anymore.
Unfortunately, burnout among students is quite common. Burnout in students happens when they are faced with ongoing stress or frustration with no chance to relax and recharge.
Although some stress is necessary to motivate us to set goals and reach them, the problem comes when the work and the stress are nonstop.
Mature students and student moms and dads are at the greatest risk of burnout. They will have to juggle many responsibilities at the same time, trying to balance their role as a parent at home, an employee at work, and a student at school.
Studying, parenting and working are already difficult and stressful by themselves, trying to manage everything between two or even all three of those responsibilities is stressful, which could lead to burnout if not managed properly.
How can burnout affect college students?
Burnout can manifest in specific symptoms in college students, including decreased motivation that leads to a drop in academic performance.
They may also lose interest in social activities, neglect friendships, and face physical symptoms such as increased anxiety and depression.
Many students facing burnout report feeling disinterested in school subjects and student groups that used to fulfill them, as well as trouble sleeping and changes in appetite.
Honestly, I’m not a psychologist or anyone capable of talking about mental health, so I will not talk deeply about the burnout of stress itself theoretically.
I’m just going to share more about student burnout from the perspective of an adult student and a student mom like me, as someone who had been through it, and not from an expert perspective.
What is the common sign you need to know?
Have you ever felt so exhausted even though you are well-rested and have not had many activities before? Becoming more sensitive than before? Or being easily upset over trivial things? Easily get irritated by the things your spouse and children do?
Are there any activities that you used to be your favorite and can’t wait to do, but now you have no interest in doing them?
If you said yes to one of the questions above, most likely you are experiencing mental burnout.
If you ignored them, you could risk getting into prolonged stress which could damage your physical and mental health. Thus, it’s imperative that you recognized the burnout sign immediately.
Here are some of the most common warning signs of burnout you need to recognize immediately and seek the solution as soon as you feel like you have them:
1. Emotional Roller Coaster
When you experience burnout, your emotion becomes unstable. You become irritated quickly, upset, feeling down, and unmotivated.
Some also experience losing patience, being annoyed easily, being critical of everything (and everyone, like your loved ones), and so on.
2. Becomes Unproductive
You may feel like you can function properly, not able to perform well, and give your best in everything you do such as at work, at home, and at school.
That is because when you feel burnout, you won’t feel like doing anything and have difficulty focusing. No matter how hard you try, you can’t concentrate on your school, work, and personal responsibilities such as taking care of your family.
You may feel disconnected from the task at hand, have a foggy brain, and be unable to finish your duties in a satisfactory manner, which will lead to more frustration.
Moreover, you could also experience a lack of creativity, and have trouble completing tasks that require providing ideas or using imagination and having trouble completing things that normally you could do easily.
Instead of tackling it with ease, as usual, you may find yourself procrastinating. When you finally finish it, you struggled to do it and feel dissatisfied with the work you produce.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, exhaustion is the state of being extremely tired. When you are exhausted, you feel tired all the time, even though you’re well-rested and have enough sleep.
Exhaustion can be experienced in the form of physical, emotional, and/or mental exhaustion. A student who has burnout could experience all three forms of exhaustion at the same time.
As a result, they will feel worn out, not want to do anything, and don’t even want to give anything a try since they feel like they have nothing left to give.
The state of exhaustion could also affect the person’s appetite and sleeping schedule. They will be losing appetite and be having difficulty sleeping because they aren’t able to ‘shut’ their mind and fill them with their worries and problems.
4. Disconnect from Social Interaction
When you start disconnecting yourself from social interaction, such as lacking the motivation to see and hang out with your friends, attend classes, go to work, or participate in any social activities and spend quality time with your family, most likely you suffer from burnout.
You may start losing interest in things that you previously enjoyed and that brought you fulfillment or even find it difficult just to wake up and start your day.
If this happens to you, try to seek professional help. Having up and down in our daily lives is normal, as well as having burnout once in a while when everything seems to be overwhelming.
But if the feelings persist for a certain period of time, and you find yourself becoming more and more disconnected from the world, try to seek professional help that you could talk to and help you solve the problem.
It’s important because someone who has emotional burnout for a long period of time could risk having depression and doing negative things, even being harmful to themselves.
5. Feelings of Anxiety or Depression
If you suddenly feel anxious in class, at work, or anywhere around people, it’s a warning sign of burnout that could lead to depression.
Especially if you start to feel your life no longer has meaning and purpose. Feel like you’ve always done everything incorrectly, feeling totally useless and hopeless.
Don’t let yourself get trapped in emotional burnout any longer. Seek professional help immediately to get you out of this stressful situation.
What Can You Do to Overcome Student Burnout?
According to the Mind-Body Connection belief, Your health can be affected by the stress from both good and bad life events like marriage/divorce, promotion/lay-off.
It also can be affected by daily routines such as fighting rush hour traffic, meeting a deadline, unrealistic self-expectations, and interpersonal relationships.
And your body responds to this stress and to anxiety or depression. For example, when you’re stressed—even by something positive—you might develop high blood pressure, a stomach ulcer, back pain, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath, and you may have trouble falling or staying asleep.
According to this experiment, a physical wound the students get during the exam period will heal longer than when they had it during the holiday.
The reason is that during the exam weeks, their body feels more stressed. When a human body feels stressed or under pressure, it will focus its energy to produce the cortisol hormone.
That will make other parts of our body, such as our immune system, for example, lack the energy to do their job. As a result, we become more vulnerable and prone to get illness during stressful periods.
A little stress and burnout every now and then is not something to be concerned about. Ongoing, chronic stress, however, can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems, including Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and other eating disorders. It can also cause menstrual problems, sexual dysfunction, skin and hair problems, and Gastrointestinal problems.
Here are some of the things we can do to prevent burnout:
1. Be Aware of the Warning Signs
Now that you know the warning signs of burnout, pay more attention to yourself. If you have one of the symptoms mentioned above, address it immediately to overcome them.
The signs and symptoms of burnout can take many forms. Thus, the earlier you identify burnout, the faster you can address and overcome it before it could progress into a serious mental health issue.
2. Take Care of Your Physical and Mental Health
Make sure you eat well and eat healthy, as your food and nutrient intact can affect your mind and body. Discipline yourself to get enough (and quality) sleep and be well-rested.
Exercise regularly. It will help oxygen flow in your bloodstream and make you more energized. Take care of your mental health by staying away from people and situations that cause you anxiety. Take some time to break from your routine to do more relaxing activities.
Use this printable workbook to record your Back to School Research. Don’t make all that Campus Visits, Virtual Tours, Webinars, and Q&A with the school’s admission personnel go to waste !! Write down the information you have collected in this workbook.
Study them later carefully to help you weigh in the pros and cons of each university and decide the best place for you to continue your study.
3. Don’t Bite More Than You Can Chew
By going back to school as older students and student moms and dads, you’re already biting more than you can chew, since balancing many roles and juggling plenty of responsibilities at the same thing can be overwhelming.
But, by making the decision, it means that you’ve already calculated everything, including the risks, and that you believed you could handle the pressure.
Furthermore, you are the only one who knows how much work, pressure, and stress you can handle before burnout sets in. Set some boundaries to stop yourself from being overworked.
4. Learn to Accept Imperfections
Sometimes we stress ourselves out because we want everything to be perfect. We find it difficult to delegate and trust other people such as our spouses, classmates, and colleagues to do their share of the work.
We prefer to do it ourselves, to make sure we are satisfied with the outcome. Or perhaps we said yes to invitations and requests because we don’t want to disappoint anyone.
This could lead to stress and burnout. Learn to say no and commit to only important things. More importantly, learn to delegate more.
It will make others around you feel empowered and build trust because you and your spouse, classmates, and colleagues are there for each other anyway.
Lastly, if you feel yourself experiencing higher levels of anxiety or depression, starting to lose interest in things that previously interested you, or pulling away from friends and family, ask for help.
Many college campuses provide mental health professionals and counseling services available to all students. You could also seek professional help such as talking to a psychiatrist.
Over to You…
Juggling many responsibilities is hard and might cause you to have stress and burnout, which, if not treated, could lead to a more serious mental illness.
Thus, it’s imperative we know the warning sign of burnout such as having an emotional roller coaster, being unproductive, and feeling exhausted all the time.
To prevent burnout or it getting worse, we need to take good care of our physical and mental health, set some boundaries for ourselves to prevent us from being overworked, and learn to let go, trust other people more and accept that things will not always be going to be perfect.
The burnout may go away after a period of time, but when we already feel like starting to disconnect with the world or withdrawing from social interactions, and feeling anxious, even depressed all the time, it’s time to seek help from a mental health professional such as from counseling services and psychiatrist.
Have you ever experienced burnout? What are the symptoms? How had you overcome it? Share them in the comment section down below, it may be helpful for others.
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Thanks so much and till next time…
- 9 Crucial Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Be a Successful Adult Learner
- 7 College Hacks for Adult Learners to Survive the Back-to-School Journey
- 8 Things You Absolutely Need to Have Before Going Back to School as Adult Students
- How I Survived Studying Abroad (with My 4 YO Coming With Me)
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