As a student, the ability to manage academics, social life, and hobbies can truly be a struggle, especially if the academic stress has already drained every ounce of energy left within. Burnouts appear to be tragically common among students, when pushing themselves to the limit seems like a good option. Undoubtedly, the majority of students would thrive to succeed academically -some for perfection, and some simply to get by to graduation. Nonetheless, is it worth paying for good grades at the cost of ones precious mental health?
Burnouts are described as physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance, and negative attitudes towards oneself and others, according to the APA Dictionary of Psychology. Burnouts would look different on everyone, and some may be better at hiding it. However, if someone is constantly tired, putting out more energy than they have, and constantly lack the balance in life to do things that help to unwind, burnouts may certainly become more evident. Common signs of a burnout include fatigue, headaches, changes in appetite, and feeling apathetic towards studies or whatever aspect they have been overexerting themselves in. Burnouts are what happen when one has reached their mental, physical, and emotional capacity. It can often cause loss of motivation, procrastination, and may make them feel like giving up, which is merely the mind and body begging for a break.
Dealing with burnouts would be different for everyone, depending on what will rest their body and mind, the cause of the burnout, and the magnitude of the burnout. Burnouts can be dealt with using the Three R approach: recognise, reverse, and resilience.
It is incredibly important to be able to recognise the early signs of a burnout, and to slow down before diving too deep into work, to the point where they can no longer breathe. Having friends and family check in on them and prioritising frequent check-ins with themselves through journaling or meditation can often be helpful. Checking in with oneself gives the opportunity to look inward and inspect their emotions in a raw way to truly ensure that the mind is in a healthy and safe state.
Reversing the damage done by burnouts can be challenging, but it is always worth it to reemerge refreshed and revitalised. Seeking support from loved ones or professional help can aid in managing stress. If burnouts seem to be a recurring occurrence for one and they always find themselves pushing their limits, seeing a professional therapist or counsellor may help to explore the deep-rooted causes of overexerting themselves and work through appropriate solutions.
Building resilience to prevent burnouts can be done by consistently taking care of physical and emotional health. “Healthy body, healthy mind” is a phrase the majority of people know, but how much do they actually believe and apply it to their daily lives? Simply going for a walk, to the gym, or playing ones favourite sport can engage them both physically and mentally, while simultaneously allowing them to take a step away from the burden of being a student. Finding joy in everyday moments can be a small yet valuable step to look on the bright side and stay afloat when the workload is trying to drown them.
If you are a Sunway student, do not fret, as Sunway offers a range of free mental health support, including counselling at Student Life, a 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Hotline and Sunway Peer Counseling Volunteers (PCV) which have Peer-to-Peer counselling, an online anonymous mailbox, and Let’s Chat sessions. There are also a number of free mental health resources outside of campus including Befrienders KL, that can be reached 24/7 at +603-76272929, and Talian Kasih that can be contacted at +15999 and via WhatsApp at 019-2615999. Many more resources can be found online with a quick Google search!
Finding balance in life is the key to preventing burnouts and managing stress. It is not necessary to have to choose between studies, and maintaining mental health, and having fun. To a certain extent, sacrifice is needed when one wants to prioritise their studies, but the weight of academic stress should not crush, nor consume them. Take time to unwind, relax, and recollect, while juggling academic life with every other aspect of life.
Written by: Celine
Edited by: Ruby