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How to deal with academic burnout and stress

person holding books walking through a classroom

With finals around the corner many students are feeling unmotivated or stressed. It can be hard to finish off the semester strong with such stress and pressure. Sometimes the constant buildup of projects, papers, exams, presentations, etc. can be too overwhelming and cause burnout. There seems to be less time for self-care and it can cause people to gloss over problems. However, it is important to recognize the signs of burnout and address the issue before it starts to have long term effects.

Signs of burnout include:

  • Feeling exhausted all the time
  • Lack of motivation to go to classes and doing assignments
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of anxiousness and depression
  • Misdirected anger or frustration to others

Here are some strategies to manage academic stress:

  • Set mini goals instead of focusing on a huge goal - breaking down a high stakes assignment can allow you to feel accomplished and less overwhelmed.
  • Make sure to get breaks - try to plan breaks that allows you to de-stress and recharge.
  • Sleep. Sleep. Sleep - getting enough rest at night will set you up for the next day. It also helps with memory and concentration.
  • Create a reward system - after an exam or major assignment find a way to treat yourself and allow yourself to feel proud of your work.
  • Plan ahead - create a schedule that allows you to work on assignments and studies to avoid procrastination and to make sure you have plenty of time to meet the deadline.
  • Fuel with the right food - skipping meals or having inconsistent eating patterns can make it harder to concentrate and have energy to do schoolwork.

Websites with more information:

Author: Sharon Kim, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences student, University of Illinois and Illinois Extension intern.