By: Laney Deffendoll
Mental, physical and emotional burnout is real. Not only is it real, but it can be extremely frustrating, debilitating and stressful. But the issue of burnout is often ignored for many reasons; whether it is the overwhelming amount of assignments due, the feeling that you are just being dramatic, or because you simply don’t seem to have enough time to prioritize yourself. As the countdown to spring break commences, it is important to remember that burnout is totally normal and your well-being should always come first. Here are a few ways to combat the burnout and take care of yourself while doing so.
The first step is to take a trip outside! The weather in Nashville has been relatively kind to us lately and given us warm weather. Go out and enjoy it! Whether it is taking a walk to class, soaking up the sun on the lawn or having a picnic with friends, getting fresh air can be extremely beneficial to the brain. According to Dr. Jolene Ross, a licensed psychologist and owner of Advanced Neuropathy, walking in nature can actually reduce your stress level because, “…taking a walk outside will help the brain produce endorphins, which are neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood.” Secondly, going outside has cognitive benefits. The American Psychological Association provides evidence that going outside in natural environments can improve your focus and memory. Although natural environments may be a better location choice than urban areas, you can still see benefits from sunlight alone. So get outside!
CHANGE UP YOUR ROUTINE
When life begins to feel monotonous, it can lead to burnout. That is why the next key to combating this issue is changing up your routine. Don’t get me wrong, that is so much easier said than done, but that’s okay! You can still follow a routine, but be sure to add in a little bit of time for you. Instead of studying until you fall asleep, give yourself time to take a shower or bath and focus on relaxing. Go for a walk (remember point 1!). Get a meal with a friend. Call your parents. Journal. Sing. Even going to a new, temporary study location will do. Changing up your daily routine, making tweaks here and there, can be a refreshing change of pace. Through all of the stress, it is important to focus on what you need, not what you need to do. Along with this, it is vital to focus on how much you schedule day to day. Do not try to put more in a day than you can handle on a regular basis. This is a time to prioritize and be sensitive with yourself because, as the Mayo Clinic highlights in an article about stress symptoms, “Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.”
EXERCISE AND EAT HEALTHY
Ah, the most dreaded step. If you’re like me, this will also be your last resort. But, the statistics do not lie when it comes to the benefits that exercising can have on the body and mind. In a study done at the University of New England, Australia, they concluded that “Burnout prevention and reduction through tailored exercise programs is a promising, cost effective, and healthy living solution for the estimated 43% of Australians experiencing unhealthy stress levels,” which is a significant enough statistic to show the benefits of exercising. This is because doing workouts help lower your body’s cortisol level. As it creates endorphins (feel-good neurotransmitters) and reduces cortisol (stress hormones), exercising can curb a lot of stress and anxiety, especially in terms of burnout. Secondly, healthy eating contributes to lowering stress and burnout as well. A University of Michigan Health Library says that “You can handle stress better when you are as healthy as possible, so eating nutritiously is a good defense against stress” so it is best to do caffeine and alcohol in moderation, take your time eating your food and avoid eating due to boredom or stress.
Although there are hundreds of ways to combat burnout, try your best to not let it become a battle for you! The importance of your mental health is worth way more than a grade. What works for me may not work for you, but I hope that this gives you some ideas of where to head next when you start to feel burnout. We appreciate all of our students, faculty, and staff here at Belmont and wish you good luck on all of your midterms!