Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash
College burnout is a fairly new, but extremely prevalent topic that has been catching wind. Students are experiencing high volumes of stress, anxiety, and depression at their universities. College is a hard environment to be in, but college being the sole source of stress for the youth seems like too easy of an answer.
What exactly is college burnout? The term immediately sounds similar to being stressed out. But college burnout refers to a more extreme level of exhaustion. College Info Geek lists the many factors that may indicate you are experiencing burnout. Having no motivation, feeling disengaged from family and friends, feeling constantly frustrated, experiencing a lack of focus, and struggling with grades all point to signs of being burnt out.
The mental and emotional strain of academic stress can be daunting. However, burnout takes a longer time to develop and can represent the incessant experience of exhaustion and stress. As the article progresses, we will look at some tips to combat this.
What Are The Causes?
College students from far and wide can tell you just how rough college life can be. Yes, there is the freedom to sleep in or go out as you please. Yes, you get to choose your major and interests and immerse yourself into things you love.
However, college living requires a lot of responsibility. Despite resources being available, upholding oneself requires a reserve of energy and wherewithal that isn’t always available.
The American College Health Association (ACHA) did a 2017 research study focusing on the overall health of college students across the country. When assessing the main factors contributing to decline or halt in academic performance, they found that the leading 4 included stress (31.7%), anxiety (25.1%), sleeping difficulties (21.4%), and depression (16.8%).
Learning to network, to be present and engaged in classes, to pay tuition, juggle loans, to build a resume, and even to be socially active can become too much. College doesn’t stop or slow down until the very end of a semester. There is always the need to keep up, and with the need to keep up comes an aversion to falling behind.
College Burnout… and What Else?
The need to keep up is a constant feeling in or outside of college. While college students and millennials are struggling with loan debt, job interviews or exams, they’re also watching thousands of people their age who aren’t. Rather, people who seem like they aren’t.
In a 2017 study done by the European Scientific Journal, it finds that, “approximately 88% of people engage in making social comparisons on Facebook and out of the 88%, 98% of the comparisons are upward social comparisons… Upward comparisons make people feel inferior and have negative evaluations of themselves.”
Social media is a haven for false or idealized images of people, curated by individual users. Profiles show the bright, sunny, and successful portions of their lives while omitting the ugly.
Social platforms also serve as an economic goldmine as people can become millionaires within weeks due to viral content. The fluctuation between an existence of near-poverty and instant-success and economic mobility can be traumatizing and extremely discouraging to see. The need to keep up is much more dire when your peers are way ahead.
The obvious solution is to just get off social media. Stop feeding into people’s chopped and screwed versions of themselves and stop piling on impossible expectations. But that’s not the reality.
Social media is a prime mode of communication for young people. It’s how we connect from all over the world and meet more people who share our interests and beliefs. It’s a source of news and provides insight into a diversity of perspectives at any time of the day or night at the click of a button. Realistically, it doesn’t make sense to just call it quits.
So, here are a few wellness tips to navigate college burnout and the overall fatigue of trying to stay afloat in this world.
1. Know When To Say No
It’s necessary that we pick and choose how we’re investing our energy and time. Sometimes it feels like we have to fully immerse ourselves into every opportunity available in order to be successful. That’s not true, and it’s also not possible.
Plan out your schedules, find which opportunities are most helpful and accessible, and stick with them. Quality and consistency are stronger than quantity.
2. Choose Sleep
I know what it’s like to be the person who wants to finish just “one more thing” before going to bed. It usually ends up in sleeping at 3 AM instead of 12 or 1 AM (which also isn’t the best).
Go to bed. Some things can actually wait until the morning, and if you get in the habit of allowing more rest time, then making space throughout your day for work will be easier.
3. Self-Loving and Kindness Is Key
Work on encouraging yourself through the rough moments. After a while of feeling like everything you do isn’t successful or good enough, it’s easy to be self-loathing and critical. Don’t fall into that trap.
Negative thinking can perpetuate a negative outlook on your reality, and when you’re running on fumes, that’s the last thing you need. Positive self-talk provides a counter to the many difficult emotions and thoughts that come along with a stressful life.
We all want to succeed. We want to do what we love, live our lives, and be emotionally and mentally stable while doing it. It’s not too much to ask. The environments that we inhabit sometimes don’t support that, and we become overwhelmed. Take your time, let yourself rest, and be kind to yourself. It’s much more possible to thrive while taking care of ourselves than the world allows us to believe.