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How to combat academic burnout mid-term

As summer ends and September beckons, an opportunity presents itself in the form of a new term, and the possibility of academic burnout isn’t even a consideration. Fast forward a few months, and the excitement of a new term may seem like a distant memory. The frivolities of freshers’ week are well and truly over, and the harsh reality of studying begins to bite. The festive fervour that sparkles across campus during the countdown to Christmas has been extinguished, replaced by emptiness and weariness as the dreaded January blues begin to creep in. 

Contending with the drop in temperatures, the change in seasonality and having to realign your focus and put concentration back into the world of academia can be challenging. As your work, societies and coursework commitments start mounting, the art of juggling becomes ever more finite. All this while regularly trudging to lectures and seminars with your motivation waning, it’s little wonder that you can start to feel a tad overwhelmed. 

It all sounds and feels a little depressing, and owing to a combination of these factors, many students suffer from academic burnout at this time of the year. This isn’t unique to you, in fact, it’s likely most students are going through the motions too. Exhaustion can be mentally and physically draining, but there are things you can consider and do to negate the impact of this and rediscover your verve in no time. 


What is academic burnout?

The term ‘burnout’ may sound familiar, but how does academic burnout differ from this? Well, the symptoms and feelings are very much the same, only applied to the context of academic studies. The pressure of continuous deadlines, attending lectures and any other university commitments can lend itself to excessive and prolonged stress. This may not occur overnight, but stress can gradually build and eventually take its toll on your physical and mental wellbeing.  

Burnout can reduce your productivity, as it can sap your energy, meaning you require more in order to produce more. When this cycle is ongoing, it heightens the effects and can eventually lead to complete burnout, where you feel hopeless and overwhelmed and negatively impacted across all disciplines within your studies and social life. 


What can I do to combat this?

Everyone can feel bored, stressed, restless or agitated over the pressures that studying brings – it wouldn’t be normal not to have those feelings on occasions. But when these feelings become apparent over prolonged periods, it’s likely you’re suffering from academic burnout. Combating this may seem challenging initially, but there are subtle changes you can make to your daily life that will help ease the burden and pressure. 


1. Prioritise your responsibilities

Part of your university journey is added responsibility and being accountable for what you need to do and how you need to achieve it. But this doesn’t mean you should put too much pressure on yourself, there is such a thing as taking on too many responsibilities. Let’s say you are studying full-time, and you have your lectures, seminars and any out-of-hours coursework or exam preparation to do. Simultaneously, you’re also a member of two societies, which means Wednesdays are usually dedicated to sports and social events. Alongside that, you also work part-time at a local restaurant or bar for extra spending money to fund your accommodation and sustenance costs. 

Although there is likely a defined reason as to why each of these things is important and necessary, there can be times where too much is going on. Consider a little revision of your schedule and routine in order to release the pressure on yourself but still be able to hit targets or deadlines when needed. Prioritising your schedule and workload each week, or at least on a regular basis, will help you ascertain the most important things of that week. If you have an important deadline, perhaps find cover for a shift or two at work or miss out on that week’s hockey or football match to free up a little more time. 

Though university lends itself to peer pressure and saying ‘no’ can be hard, sometimes you have to do what’s best for you, to prevent overload and burnout. 


2. Find time for yourself

A massive part of uni life is socialising, and whilst it’s nice to see and know lots of people, it can become difficult to find time for yourself. Living with several other people doesn’t particularly lend itself to being able to zone out and knuckle down on impending deadlines or coursework. Equally, we can find it hard to be friendly and sociable every single day, and there are times where a little ‘me time’ is just the tonic. Finding time for yourself is a must, and however you choose to do this is entirely up to you. 

It could be going out on a nice stroll or a bit of a hike, taking in some fresh air to ease those academic stresses and soothe the mind. You could take yourself to your favourite coffee shop or an alternative quiet space, where you can dial in your concentration and do some deep thinking or research depending on tasks you need. Or, you may find that just being in a different space and switching off from academic thinking is the best solution. 

Or finally, if you don’t feel like going out and about, you can always seek solace in your room and practise some breathing exercises or stretches. Doing simple things like this can help to clear your mind and help you recharge and rediscover the energy you may feel is lacking. 


3. Eat well and exercise regularly 

Though it is very much a common sense approach to have, eating healthily and exercising regularly is critical to ensuring energy levels remain high and quell the potential for academic burnout and stress. Though the typical student diet isn’t exactly renowned for being high in nutritional goodness, it doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy, balanced diet isn’t achievable. If you’re already in a society or two and taking part in sports through university, then that’s great! You could perhaps factor in a gym session or a run a couple of times a week to complement that. 

Coupled with a healthy, balanced diet (it can be affordable – we promise!), you are certain to feel engaged and ready for anything that the pressures of academia will throw at you. You’ll find plenty of research and studies online that evidence the benefits of this!


Always know that you’re never alone 

Though it may feel completely untrue, thousands of students each year suffer from some form of academic burnout or stress-related worries from studying. Talking to other students or people within your student accommodation can be a massive help, as you will soon discover there are many people in a similar position. The management at St George’s Tower are always ready to listen and advise on where to go for help. 

We encourage you to make a note of the tips in this blog post and always have open and honest discussions with your flatmates, coursemates, or university counsellors,  should you start to feel overwhelmed or at risk of burnout. 

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