Something I’ve realised recently, especially with how this last semester has been going in regards to workload is that the first year of Uni can be super overwhelming – and there is so much pressure on students to perform well. While pressure can be a good thing, it can also be too much. In the first few weeks of university this year, during semester one, I burnt out so hard. I was so worried about my first assignment, I didn’t understand the lectures so I tried to make up for it by spending around 6 hours every night going over every single thing we might’ve been able to absorb during that day’s lecture. On top of this I was also juggling social life, working two jobs and making time to see family. Now I’m better at this, I understand now that you can’t just grasp one concept over the course of one lecture. Usually it will take two or three lectures before you fully understand what your lecturer is talking about. I make sure that my social life is balanced with study, and once a week I go home to have dinner with my family.
The one thing I took away from this experience though was the realisation that as a student it is so easy to burn out and not even know it until you have hit rock bottom. Now I have a system of things that help for me personally, some things I’ve learnt from my friends or RA, and some I’ve figured out the hard way. Either way, here’s a rough breakdown of everything that helps me prevent burnout 😉
Find your motivation. Know what the end goal is going to be. During the first semester I completely forgot why I wanted to study law and politics. By the time I remembered where I wanted to go with all the information I was absorbing I was already so run down I didn’t care. Sometimes creating a mood board, or vision board is helpful, or just taking the time to think about all the opportunities and motivations that led you to the place you are in now. Your motivation could be as simple as wanting to make money, or it could be super specific. Either way, mindlessly studying without motivation is a one way ticket🎫 to burning out. No return and no refunds. Make sure you keep in mind all the reasons (and occasionally people) you are studying for.
Create a positive study environment. Sitting in the same place, with the same people every night can get boring, repetitive and a little mind numbing. Change it up! The other day, it was so sunny and beautiful that we went and studied in Albert park across from campus. It was actually super invigorating and refreshing, we got so much work done! It’s also important to make sure you surround yourself with people you can study with. I love my friends, but i refuse to study with them. For the pure reason that once we tried to study together and ended up lime scootering (is scootering even a word?) half way to mission bay because we got bored and then started chatting.
Create a to do list. And once you’ve crossed off everything on that to-do list take a break! Not only is it satisfying to tick a box, if you are super honest with yourself on what you think you are able to achieve that day, it is a good way to stay on track and not push yourself too hard. It can also be a good way of making sure you feel relaxed and are holding it together. You know everything you want to achieve that day, and once you have done it, you can relax knowing that you have made tomorrow lots easier for the future you.
Know whats going on. By this I mean get a planner. I mentioned this in my last post, having a planning system is a super good way of preventing stress and burn out. Just like with the to do list it helps to keep you organised and makes sure you don’t end up doing assignments last minute, something that is sure to trigger a burn out.
The last thing on the list is self care. This is probably the most important part of preventing burn out. If you spend all your time studying or socializing or working, it won’t matter how organised you are or how good your work environment is, you will for sure get burnt out. A huge part of why I have felt so on top of things this semester is because I have figured out a super healthy self care routine.
- Regular exercising (I do the bodypump classes at Les Mills and they are amazing)
- Reading anything interesting that is unrelated to study (currently reading Educated by Tara Westover, which is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while!)
- Getting enough sleep. This differs depending on you personally, but having enough energy to study properly and effectively is important. Try and get as much sleep as possible. This can for sure include power naps!
- Watch Netflix, but choose an interesting show and watch one episode a night as a reward for good study habits! (Right now I’m watching ‘Grace and Frankie’ on Netflix and it is so funny!)
And that’s it for my personal system of preventing burnout. Exams are coming up, both for high school students and Uni students, so it’s important to remember to put yourself and your mental health first. At the end of the day if you try your best then that’s great! Also being able to say no to some things, like extra study or social events is important as well, looking after yourself is the most important thing, even over study and friends.
I hope this helps 😊 please feel free to comment with any questions and thanks for reading! – Beth