Counselor offers advice to handling burnout

Are you sluggishly getting through the day, feeling unmotivated to write a sentence when you used to be able to get multiple assignments done in one day but now you’re watching the Chromebook clock for the minutes to turn into days and for days to turn into the last day of school? You may be experiencing burnout.

“Burnout is when you don’t give yourself any breaks. When you feel like you have to go 100 miles an hour and be the best at everything. Even if it’s maybe too difficult, you still go for it, and you do that for everything,” counselor Erin Gardner said. 

“I would say what I’ve seen as a counselor is students trying to stay up with other students. So like with our honors and AP classes, they take all of them instead of focusing on what interests them or what they are good at. For example, if I wanted to be a nurse I should probably focus on AP/honors science and math, and yet I’m still also doing honors English and social studies. I would say when you’re trying to be on top of absolutely everything is when students burn out.”

Gardner has tried to spread awareness and information on burnout to help students fight it.

“The symptoms are being tired and feeling like you have no time because you’re always studying. You’re grumpy, moody. You are that way because you have no time for fun. You guys are young, and you need to take advantage of life and hang out with friends or be in extracurriculars. There is more to life than being the best of the best of every single class.”

A lot of those symptoms sound similar to depression. Gardner said, “I would say mental health could definitely affect burnout because with depression you often don’t have full energy; you’re sad and more likely to be negative. I could see how someone with depression could burn out more easily than other people, and I can see also how someone could confuse the symptom of being tired and drained for depression when it’s actually burnout.”

To prevent burnout, Gardner said, “I would say take time for yourself, give yourself breaks. If you are studying, give yourself 15-minute or half-hour break, then get back into it. Go for a walk and take care of yourself, both your physical and mental self. Do something you enjoy. If you like getting your nails done, get them done, and if you like basketball, play some basketball. Go outside and get some fresh air. Know it’s OK not to be the best at everything. Know you’re really good at certain things and take advantage of those things. And the other things, do your best, but you don’t have to be AP/Honors everything.”

She said teachers and counselors can support students through burnout too. “Allow them a break. Here in the counseling office, we allow students to take a break (don’t take advantage of it, don’t be down here every day, all day). The teacher at my daughter’s school realized they were all just tired, so they went and took a walk around the school, so just recognizing your students need a break too.”


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