Online courses, midterms, final exams, registration deadlines, housing applications and the search for summer jobs are issues that college students face daily. Not to mention the time spent with family and friends and the countless hours spent on the main floor of the Dick Smith library.
Although these all sound like normal college student activities, the toll academics takes on the mental and emotional health of students is not to be overlooked. In a study conducted by the University of Southern Maine in 2006, it was concluded that physical issues, lack of personal motivation, outside influences and assignment overload were all leading causes of burnout.
Burnout is defined as the lack of motivation to complete personal and professional tasks. Burnout is a total loss of motivation and energy with no signs of relief. There are three types of burnout: individual burnout, interpersonal burnout and organizational burnout.
Individual burnout is the most common form of burnout. This form of burnout is expressed through negative self-talk and perfectionism. When you place unrealistic standards and expectations for yourself, it can turn into a series of self-loathing, unsatisfied and unmet goals.
Interpersonal burnout is caused by the stress of difficult relationships with other people. For example, a fight with your best friend might cause an emotional burnout which is known as interpersonal burnout.
The final form of burnout is organizational burnout which is caused by poor organizational skills and unrealistic deadlines. Organizational burnout can be described as the feeling you get when you think you have an assignment due but in reality, the assignment has passed and you cannot make it up. Each form of burnout takes a different toll on different individuals.
Burnout can look different in men and women, contrary to popular belief. For example, women typically experience exhaustion first, followed by cynicism and inefficacy. Basically, women become tired, angry and then unproductive in their first stages of burnout. For men, on the other hand, they tend to experience cynicism first followed by exhaustion. Men are less likely to reach the inefficiency level of burnout. It has also been recorded that women’s burnout can be linked to inflammation whereas men’s burnout is linked more towards anxiety and depression. Although burnout has different effects on men and women, it was concluded that burnout, if untreated, can take an overall effect on the mental and physical health of both men and women.
The battle against burnout is a battle that not many college students are prepared for. Burnout can be easily disguised as stress, but the effects of stress are significantly different than the effects of burnout. The issue with burnout amongst college students is that talking issues out with friends can feel like complaining.
Tarleton State University offers a variety of assistance for students who feel like they are struggling with campus life. Both the Wellness Center and the Counseling Services are openly available for students in need. The Wellness Center and Counseling Services are both open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the week. For after-hours crisis assistance, Counseling Services can be reached at 254-968-9044. Issues like burnout and stress can both be solved here on campus, so students should take advantage of the opportunity in an attempt to improve overall mental and emotional health.
There are a number of ways to avoid burnout. The first important method used is paying close attention to the personal stressors in your life. When you are aware of the things that bring you discomfort in life, the best thing to do is remove yourself from those situations. Using a planner or daily organizer is also a great way to avoid organizational burnout. When you can actively understand where your time is going, you are less likely to feel stressed and overworked.
Regularly revisit your priorities in order to establish which goals are realistic and which goals are unattainable. Bringing more structure into your life is also a good way to avoid burnout. Always focus on the progress as well as the end goal. When you take life one day at a time, you allow yourself space to understand your feelings and emotions in order to avoid burnout.
Set aside time at night to complete a skin care routine, write in a journal or self-reflect in order to clear your mind. Lastly, it is important to find a support system network full of trusted individuals. Human connection is essential for warding off burnout symptoms.
“Even though you might feel overwhelmed or stressed, you still need to take time for yourself. You need to set aside time to focus on yourself so you can succeed. Sometimes just writing in a journal or taking a nap can change everything,” nursing student, Megan Reynolds said.
As students, we are prone to experience physical, emotional, or behavioral burnout at some point in the year. With that being said, it is important to practice prevention methods and understand how to alleviate the issue. Being driven to succeed in life does not have to turn into a battle against mental and emotional health. Take a break and take a breath. Never forget, mental health comes first. Stay safe Texans.