Burnout, But Don’t Burn Up

SONY DSC

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.

 

Keep Calm and Power Up

pasted image 0

How to make sure your study breaks don’t take five hours each.

In the midst of exams, deadlines and stress, you are studying for hours, and all of a sudden you start to feel a massive headache – with a side of extreme frustration. There is only one solution. You need a study break. However, the problem usually is that you either have no time for a break, or you take a small break that will automatically lead to an accidental free afternoon…

So let me show you my five tips for short breaks that can calm you down and power you up for another long study session!

  • Get some food

You can either go down to the store and get yourself some brain food, or get creative with all the stuff you have left in the fridge. Don’t just open a bag of chips and get back to your desk. That cannot be seen as a break. The point is to focus your attention on something else completely by spending 10-30 minutes preparing some food that you can then use as a snack during your next study session. Think about a nice (fruit) salad, your own milkshake or some cooked pasta. Easy to make, healthy and great food for study!

  • Watch a comedy show

Giving your brain the time to relax and to not think about anything can be just what you need sometimes! Unfortunately, Netflix can easily get you distracted for too long. When you want just a small break, then a two-hour long movie is not really an option. Neither is a 40-minute episode, since we all know we won’t stick to just one with those cliffhangers. But the great thing about comedy shows is that most episodes don’t end with cliffhangers, they are only twenty minutes long and don’t require any thought! Perfect for a short break.

  • Go for a walk or run outside

Nothing more refreshing than fresh air. You don’t even have to walk for long. A quick walk around the neighborhood can already do wonders for your concentration. And if walking is too slow for you, you can always speed up and run for a little while instead.

  • Finish all those necessary, boring tasks

Do some laundry, clean your bed, organize your music playlists, pictures or clothes. Clean up your photo album on your phone or old conversations on WhatsApp. Maybe these aren’t the most exciting tasks ever, but they are at least taking your mind off of studying while being productive at the same time. And another plus, while these tasks provide not much fun or entertainment, you will be more likely to keep it short!

  • Call a friend, but don’t text!

With texting, you’ll easily get distracted by all the other apps. But when you just call up a friend you can talk for a while, feel sad together, talk about the stress of life, or give each other a small pep talk. Your friend (hopefully) has a life of their own and things to do, so they won’t be able to stay on the phone for too long. But it can be a fun, short distraction for your brain, so that afterwards you can focus your attention again on your upcoming exam or paper.

Now, I cannot guarantee 100% success rates for these techniques. Although designed as short breaks, without the right discipline, these can easily turn into long breaks. But anything can happen if you want it to. I hope these ideas work as well for you as they are working for me, and if not, I hope you enjoyed your break by reading this!

 

The Resurrection of Polak

IMG_1697

After months of deliberating to find study spaces, finding quiet hidden spots that would eventually be found by others, and the opening of the P-Building with multiple silent study rooms, the wait is almost over.

The Polak building, well known and loved by all Erasmus students, even more so after its abrupt evacuation mid-October, will be back to support all the eager students starting the 3rd of April. The building was closed for renovations after it was made aware that its floor construction was similar to the one at Eindhoven Airport which collapsed May of 2017. To counteract this, steel beams were added to reinforce the floor at Polak, and currently the building is being cleaned out for its reopening.

Over 600 study spaces and multiple tutorial rooms will open on the 3rd, but the rest of the shops will trickle in slowly. Hairdesign by Lydia will arrive first, and then on the 23rd of April the Copyshop, Randstad, and the Study Store will re-locate into Polak. Make sure not to forget those dates in case you have to print an assignment or two from the Copyshop!

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 11.01.29 AM

© Tim Van de Velde

Many students are relieved with the reopening after the months of deliberating to find study spaces, and with the influx of exchange and HBO students that too need places to study. Furthermore, the beautiful piece of architecture (although some contest) has been missed by students for its aesthetically pleasing backdrop for not just studying, but also Instagram photoshoots. I, personally, am excited to walk through the slightly confusing staircases to look for spaces, which will be filled up almost immediately as I close in on them. So, may the odds be ever in your favor.

pasted image 0So look out on your social media – Instagram stories and Snapchat stories – for more shots of the beautiful building, be ready for more accessible study areas where there are available charging ports. But beware, finding spots is still going to be a cutthroat competition so make sure to try to get spots as early as possible and take care of your belongings while you are there. To make your life easier, try to use the EUR Study Rooms app (iOS and Android) to find the optimum times to study in the spots you most desire.