Full Plate: Stress vs. Burnout

Completing internships as a full-time student or while working can be hard. Some college students may not realize how stressful it can be to juggle work and school and often take on too much.

Our mental health fluctuates on a daily basis depending on what we have going on. Sometimes students experience a period where they start to feel something beyond stress. Before I knew the term myself, I didn’t know how to describe what I was feeling, but I knew it went deeper than everyday stress. A “burnout” is a physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress and it can look different depending on the situation. In a school environment we may chalk it up to stress, but it is important to always keep a close eye on our mental health through the process. Burnouts are recognizable by their symptoms and are different or sometimes more extreme than with stress.

Here are a few tell-tale signs that you may be or about to be experiencing a burnout:

  • Assignments and tasks that usually seem easy are more time consuming and/or become mentally exhausting.
  • You might be a little extra tired, replace quality work time with naps, and choose rest more often than usual.
  • You might start accepting lesser grades or lower quality work.
  • You might allow more cracks in your self-confidence.
  • Stress can sometimes make doing work harder but may not always lead to a full mental collapse.

Burnouts can be avoided by learning how to better manage school, work, and any other responsibilities while also managing your mental health. Sometimes when we focus on multiple things at once it can be hard to center ourselves and prioritize where we need to. For example, if you have multiple assignments due over the course of three days while but also have to go to work for two of those three and soccer practice at the end of each day, it might be helpful to better organize your thoughts and responsibilities before those next few days get started.

Making lists, mapping out your busy days on a calendar, and even journaling are ways to manage and organize your thoughts and prioritize your responsibilities. Other important ways to manage your mental health and avoid burnouts include:

  • Saving time to get good sleep.
  • Eating healthy and making sure to eat multiple meals per day to maintain energy.
  • Learning to say “no” when you know you’ve taken on too much.
  • Taking time for yourself to do nothing, relax, and unwind.

By prioritizing yourself and making sure to organize your thoughts and responsibilities you can be more aware of burnouts. Keeping an eye out for some of the symptoms, or just paying attention to yourself and your mental health can be the best way to prevent a full mental shutdown and keep you going strong through a rough time.

Written by: Hannah Seltzer

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