Illustrated of a stressed student with a big pile of books on their desk

Recognising and preventing burnout

We’re already halfway through the semester?! Gosh, time flies! Realising how much piled up work and commitments we have on our plate. BURNOUT ALERT INCOMING!!

As a final-year student, I can feel the burnout coming from all directions! Juggling academic responsibilities, placements and internships, volunteering hours, social engagements with family and friends, and personal development of our own passion projects and hobbies as well as career development and networking opportunities to expand our career opportunities, preparing ourselves for adulthood before graduating. Phew… I feel like I’m rapping through my personal story trying to not bore you guys.  

In all honesty, I signed up to write this article because I thought that reflecting and writing on my past burnout experiences might help me overcome it now. I hope this article can shed some light on what burnout means to us and how we can work to identify it and carry out realistic ways to prevent it before it takes its toll.  

Although we all feel burned out at some point in our lives, do we actually know what it is?  

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Identifying burnout

According to, “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress”. It often leads to reduced productivity, feelings of detachment, and a sense of hopelessness. Burnout can affect various aspects of life, including academics, relationships, and overall well-being. 

Wow, as I’m writing this article, I’m noticing all the signs of burnout within myself. Okay, I’ll do it with you. Scan through your body and mind and see what comes up:  

  • Physical Symptoms: Constant fatigue, insomnia, headaches and frequent illnesses. 
  • Emotional Exhaustion: Feeling drained, overwhelmed and emotionally distant from tasks and people. 
  • Reduced Performance: A decline in academic performance, lack of motivation and difficulty concentrating. 
  • Detachment: Withdrawing from social activities, feeling isolated and losing interest in hobbies. 
  • Negative Attitude: Developing a pessimistic outlook, increased irritability and a sense of cynicism.  
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 Now that we’ve noticed signs of burnout, as a long-term university student, allow me to share some tips and tricks we can do to alleviate that. 

Combatting burnout 

Excessive workload such as juggling multiple assignments, research projects, quizzes and exams going straight into adulthood without breaks could be very taxing on us.  Plus, are you a perfectionist? (Hell yeah, I am.) Setting high unrealistic expectations and criticising ourselves when they’re not being met. The pressure to perform well in our tasks is so evident in my culture and I have to consciously tell myself that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.  

I find that breaking down your tasks into urgency and importance is helpful for me. You can then break them into small manageable chunks and create a timetable around your work and other commitments. Include self-care such as sleep, exercise and healthy eating to maintain physical and mental health, as well as other relaxation and mindfulness activities such as meditation and yoga that help reduce stress.

I like to dedicate one day of me-time each week to unwind, like going to the beach, sunbathing in my backyard, or just lounging at home to catch up on my current series. Trust me, the guilt of not being productive can creep in but maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial to perform our tasks well. I also find that staying connected with family and friends is important for emotional support, well-being, and a sense of belonging in this sometimes lonely journey.  

Cartoon image of a person sitting cross-legged calmly balancing self-care related images

Final thoughts 

If you’re really struggling and need more help, I encourage you to seek assistance from your course coordinator or even lecturers you really clicked with. The university also offers free counseling services and a module on managing burnout. If you’re feeling shy, there are a lot of study and well-being posters at the library and the counseling offices. 

Alrighty, we’ve come to the end of our reflection. Recognising and preventing burnout is crucial for us to maintain our welfare and excel in our studies. By identifying early signs of burnout and incorporating healthy habits, we can navigate our academic journey with resilience and enthusiasm (that’s why we are here!)  

Remember, taking care of ourselves is not a luxury but a necessity. By acknowledging the importance of well-being, you’re not only safeguarding your mental health but also setting yourself up for a successful university experience. 

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