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Burnout: what is it and what do I do about it? 

Bella Mezzacapo reporter 

At this point in the semester before our two upcoming breaks, a lot of us can likely say that we are feeling a little tired, lazy, down in the dumps, and just over it all. These feelings can be described as one word and phenomenon: burnout. 

Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion on exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy. Although burnout specifically refers to phenomena in the occupational context, I believe that it applies to schooling as well. 

The first step to taking care of anything is addressing the signs. Burnout can take different forms, affecting a person physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. Some characteristics of burnout include: frequent illness, disengagement and detachment, feelings of frustration, helplessness, hopelessness, increased stress, and loss of motivation. Other common signs include reduced productivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, lack of creativity, and even fatigue. 

Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped. It’s a result of excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress. In many cases, burnout happened when a person in overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with demands, projects, work, etc. 

So, now that we know what burnout is and why we are all dealing with it—what do we do about it? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, some ways to handle burnout are to evaluate your options, seek support, try a relaxing activity, get some exercise, sleep, and be mindful. It is also important to keep an open mind as you consider your options.  

For me personally, when I am feeling burnt-out, I usually take a moment to get some extra sleep. I usually wake up feeling refreshed, and then I get things done. However, that doesn’t always work. When taking a nap fails to help, I like to go to the gym or do some cleaning. That way, I will be in a better headspace because I have done something productive. But it does not work for everyone. 

My best personal advice to someone who is experiencing burnout is to first take a step back and look at what it is that is stressing them out. Is it a big deal? What all do you have to do? Just ask yourself questions in order to evaluate the situation at hand and decide if it is even worth stressing over, before it leads to burnout. Next, make a to-do list. Think of all the possible things that you have to do for the day, then for the week, then maybe even for the month (if you can think that far ahead). List them in chronological order then by priority.  

It sounds really small and pointless, but it can do wonders. A small productive task can lead to, well, possible productivity. 

All in all, burnout is very real and very hard to combat from person to person. Everyone is different, so it is likely that we won’t all experience it in the same way, or all have the same methods of fixing it. However, addressing the burnout and taking small steps to combat it will do a lot in the long run. 

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