The ‘B’ Word: Burnout

What is it and how to avoid it?

In High School, all your teachers were probably saying things like: 

“Your teachers at University won’t be as easy on you as I am.”

“You think this is hard? Wait till you get to university.”

Now, difficulty ranges from course to course, but the general consensus is Uni isn’t like that – until suddenly, it is. 

Assignments can start to pile up, and then you’re three weeks behind in readings, and the clubs you’re in suddenly need you to do all this work for an event they’re planning, and if you have a job on top of all that it can kind of seem like the world is caving in on you and you get paralysed under the weight of your ever-growing to-do list. 

That is burnout. 

Well, more specifically, burnout is when you feel emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted as a result of continued stress. Some would say the simple answer is to simply not stress, which only makes us stress more. 

So how do we avoid stress?

While everyone is different and there’s no one size fits all to how to protect your mental wellbeing and avoid burnout, there is a range of tips and tricks that can’t hurt to try. 

It is important to note while prolonged stress can lead to burnout, and both present similarly, stress and burnout are not the same things. 

Stress can make you overreact to things, as opposed to not caring enough to react, rather than being disengaged, stress can make you over-engaged, which can look something like not having the boundaries between your work, study and personal/social life. Stress can cause hyperactivity, caused by a sense of urgency. 

At a surface level, burnout can look like this too, but in reality, it can make you almost completely zone out – no overreactions, no over-engagement. It can lead to feelings of hopelessness and lack of motivation  – AKA the very thing we’re hoping to avoid at University. 

Preventing burnout can be done with the 3 “R”’s approach, 

  • Recognise the warning signs of burnout 
  • Reverse the damage by seeking support
  • Build Resilience over time. 

But you don’t need alliteration to prevent burnout. 

There is never any shame in turning to others for help. Sometimes easing burnout can be as simple as taking a night off, hanging out with your friends and binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine. 

But that’s not the only option. For those living on campus, CSU dorms will have residence leaders, who can help you navigate the study lifestyle. The uni also has services and workshops which will help bolster time management skills (AKA, putting a stop to burnout before it becomes a thing). 

On the top floor of the Library, there’s a student study office and the team there will help you get your studies on track. 

Credit: Emily Minney

Another great way to prevent burnout is setting boundaries. Knowing your limits and allocating time dedicated to studies, working, and socializing and just spending some time to yourself is imperative to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

Other little tips and tricks include:

  • Taking a technology detox
  • Allowing time for creative activities like painting or polymer clay sculpting
  • Set aside relaxation time – do all the corny shit tik tok tells you to do, like yoga, meditation, moments where your mind doesn’t actually have to be active, it can just take a back seat for a moment. 
  • Exercise and movement – utilise the free membership at the CSU gym, or join one of the CSU Sporting teams as a way to have a life outside of study and keep yourself active.

Now sure, this isn’t foolproof, and it won’t work for everyone, but these are the first steps for mental wellbeing, which is a crucial aspect of your studies, and never be afraid to ask for help.