Burnout in Post Secondary
Last week, I put together information that I gathered after talking to 2 professors and my ADHD coach to see if I saw any patterns with regards to what students seem to struggle with most; I wasn’t disappointed. All three of the people I talked to agreed that students these days are stretching themselves too thin with different commitments and/or personal struggles.
I think it goes without saying that the fact that many students (myself included) are left with no choice but to carry a part time job throughout their education is a huge contributing factor to poorer mental health due to increased stress levels. University is designed to be a full-time job; when you’re there you should be able to focus only on school and your social life. That’s not to say it is impossible to work through your degree but if you’re wanting to maintain a high GPA, participate in extracurricular activities and be in good health, then a job should not be added to that already chaotic schedule.
However, as mentioned above, many students won’t be able to get by without the income that their job provides them with. For my first two years, I managed to deal with this type of overexertion and maintain my grades, but it meant sacrificing my health both physical and mental. Further, no one can continue like that for very long, in my third year I lost my cool. After third year, I still had to work and commute, but I decided to make my health a higher priority then school, this has in fact resulted in lower grades.
Now, HOW CAN YOU DEAL WITH IT?
Know the times of day when you do your best work. The best thing you can do is plan your job and/or activities outside of the times you prefer to do your schoolwork; this type of planning will keep your stress minimized and grades maximized.
Talk to your registrar about additional funding BEFORE the new semester starts. I’ve mentioned before how I haven’t had to pay for my ADHD coach and my registrar is the main reason for this. Other student grant/loan services contribute as well but may not cover 100%. Moreover, if you’re using loans and you’re not getting enough from them, you can almost always apply for additional funding directly through your school. Do this sooner rather than later or you could be waiting until the end of the semester to get an answer of whether they will give you the money and if so, how much you’ll get (I speak from experience).
If you need to work and/or want to join clubs or teams, LIVE AT HOME IF YOU CAN. Since I live alone, all my chores and errands are done on weekends. I clean my apartment top to bottom every Saturday, do meal prep, clean my pet’s habitats, get groceries, etc. This ALWAYS ends up taking the entire day (and sometimes part of the next day) which means I can’t do homework for that day. Additionally, the other day is usually either filled with family commitments or plans with friends so essentially, my homework needs to be done by Friday night or it isn’t getting done. If I still lived at home, I would have at least one more day to get my work done because I wouldn’t be the only one responsible for getting these tasks done.
Review your budget once a week. It hurts, I know, but believe me when I say that if you know exactly how much you’re spending, you will be better off. Don’t avoid looking at the numbers just because it’s stressful… it will only get worse over time if you don’t pay attention. The more you look, the better you can plan and the less stress you’ll have.
Take time off when you need to. I have been the only one in my group of friends to take time off during my degree. Does it suck being there with all of them gone? Yes however, most of them really aren’t any better off right now than I am. Moreover, I know what life without school is like already so it won’t be as much of a shock after the summer when I’m finally done; many of my friends had a really hard time with this. Don’t race your way through, it’s not worth it and will only increase your stress levels,
Have a plan B schedule. Decide what you will cut out if you start to struggle.
Find a doctor that can either provide you with treatment or refer you to another who can.
Most importantly, pay attention to your body. Track your symptoms, the moment you think something is going wrong then take action immediately, so you can increase your chances of finishing the semester without major drama.