Burnout, But Don’t Burn Up

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After spending years and years being educated and constantly filling out standardized tests, the idea that these quantitative attributes carry on to impact us for the rest of our lives evidently looms over our heads. Or not. Either way, as each term dawns upon us, it can get a little more difficult to remember why you choose this life in the first place. I’ve gone through burnouts time and time again, and while I haven’t yet mastered the art of preventing them, I have some tricks that help me get out it.

Realize when you’re going through a burnout versus when you’re just having ‘one of those [lazy] days’.

While burnout may differ for everyone, I know when I’m going through one when I’m exceptionally demotivated, can’t concentrate on anything, and feel like no more information will diffuse into my mind. It feels more physically challenging than just having to go to a lecture when you’re really not feeling it. Learning to realize whether its a burnout or a lazy day helps you know when you really stop overworking. Realize, accept, and then try to get out it.

Take a break.

Rotterdam, and the university, have a lot of calm spaces to recollect yourselves. You could take a scenic stroll alone or with friends, take a nap back a home, or just chill. There are great spots that I personally recommend for some serene downtime, either around Kralingse Bos for free, or in the Trompenburg Gardens for around 3 euros. Beyond partying and studying, it is very important to take time for yourself to have some ‘downtime’ where you’re in a situation where you feel most calm. This really helps in, well for lack of a better term, rebooting yourself, so that your burnout doesn’t get the best of you. The sense of calm rather than a mental obstacle you can’t get over reduces the length and even strength of the burnout.

Eat something good.

This doesn’t just mean something healthy. Taking care of yourself physically will help you take care of yourself mentally; and vice versa. However, it is important to sometimes eat for your soul rather than just your beach body. Why? Feeling happy, even momentarily, can boost your motivation to do other things. If you’re really keen on staying ‘healthy’ rather than having something really greasy, there’s always really delicious fruits (personally, I miss the guavas and mangos from back home in Thailand) that you could try to get your hands on.

Do some work, but take frequent breaks.

Being someone with immense bad luck, I have never had a burnout that was kind enough to come before a break of some kind – no, I would always have more deadlines and more tests upcoming. As much as it sucks, doing a little bit of work or study maybe in 15 minute increments with similar breaks helps. Forcing yourself to concentrate might end up being counterproductive in some cases, so when your mind wanders off, instead of feeling like you need to punish yourself and force your interest onto your assignment or reviewing, take the break your mind craves.

And even more so, try not to leave things for last minute beforehand so that you have paced yourself out and aren’t stressed the night before the exam because you haven’t studied enough. If you’re honest with yourself and try to understand yourself and adapt instead of fighting it, you’ll never let a burnout burn you up.