“Burnout” has been defined by Dr. Louise Theodosiou, a consultant psychiatrist for the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, as a condition that occurs “in situations where people are feeling under a lot of stress, and perhaps where there are very high levels of work.” And juggling coursework and deadlines for multiple classes definitely counts as that type of situation!
However, university burnout does not happen after one all-nighter. A combination of factors contributes to burnout over an extended period of time, leading to weeks or months of exhaustion. These factors can include:
Too much work. If you have concurrent deadlines, you may find yourself stressing over whether you can get it all done on time… and if you can, will it be good enough? Additionally, putting extra pressure on yourself to achieve a certain grade can add to feelings of stress, and you may feel like you have to work 24/7 rather than finding a balance between studying and relaxing.
Not enough downtime. Consistently staying up late to finish work, canceling plans to stay home and study, and feeling guilty about taking even short breaks from your books can lead to university burnout. It’s really important to make time for exercise, socializing, and other kinds of self-care in order to prevent this.
External stressors. University is often a student’s first taste of independent living. With all the responsibility that comes with that, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. If you’re struggling to manage your time or have extra worries, you may find yourself stressing more over deadlines. For example, during the pandemic, money and accommodation were big concerns for many students who had lost sources of income and were paying hefty rent for places they weren’t even necessarily living in.
Plus, in the last year, the transition to online learning has left many students feeling isolated. There has been less interaction with classmates and tutors, leaving them feeling like they’re struggling alone. And with many institutions set to continue online classes in the 2021/22 academic year—including EU Business School—it’s more important than ever to recognize the signs of university burnout and talk to someone if you think you’re experiencing them.