Written by Step Above Stigma's Chapter's Director, Jillian Wood
Let’s talk about burn out. Since we were kids, September has always been an exciting month. Back to school, back to friends, back to something to do. The leaves start to change color and with that comes all of us heading back into the swing of things. After a hopefully relaxing summer, this can be especially hard to do. Suddenly there’s school, work and a social life to balance and sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves and our mental health. We work too hard and end up in a place that’s difficult to get out of. This year, let’s change that. After experiencing burnout myself, I’ve found four different ways that have helped to both prevent and treat the effects of burnout.
1. Take “me time” seriously.
When we realize that we need a little “me time”, it’s easy to brush it off and continue working but this is when you need to put your foot down. “Me time” is important! Working yourself to the bone helps no one and you’ll soon find that you’re no longer putting in the quality of work that you hope to. One way I make sure that I take this time seriously is to literally schedule it in. On Sunday’s when I am putting my schedule together for the week I make sure that I have a designated time to recharge. Whether this be a bubble bath in between classes, taking a jog or just laying in bed watching Netflix after a long day. Taking time for yourself looks different for everyone but the important thing is that you do it!
2. Know your limit and play within it.
Understand the signs of needing a break. These signs are different for everyone but it’s important that you recognize them within yourself. Begin to observe yourself throughout the week and take note! Maybe you’re more irritated than usual or you find yourself dozing off in a lecture, whatever the signs may be, take them seriously. This is your body telling you that you need to slow down. Once you are able to identify these signs, set yourself some boundaries. This can look like heading home early from the library, saying no to staying later at work, or just staying in on a Friday night. Now that you know your limit, it’s crucial to stay within it and advocate for yourself.
3. Talk to friends or family.
Sometimes with burnout you just have no idea where to start. I’m here to tell you that the first step is to talk to someone. This could be a friend, a parent or just someone you trust but whoever they are, pick up the phone and call. You never know how much talking things out will help until you hang up the phone. I find that whenever I’m really feeling the effects of burnout, the best person to call is my Mom. No matter the problem she is always able to help me find the perspective I need to reflect and reorganize. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
4. Be kind to yourself.
Lastly, you deserve to be nice to yourself. Everyone has hard days, weeks, months etc. but remember that you’re not alone in this and that it’s okay to be down. If you’re able to be mad at yourself, you’re more than capable of being kind to yourself, so recognize your achievements and celebrate them! Be patient with how you bounce back from burnout and most importantly, know that taking care of yourself is not selfish.
Read our blog posts about personal experiences and stories with regards to mental health. Posts written by our team or those passionate about mental health.