The do’s and don’ts of handling college burnout

The spring semester seems to go by in a heartbeat, which means midterms and finals and planning for summer internships are probably jumping at you. There are little things you can do every day to avoid burnout.

Autumn Kaufman, Contributing Writer

Make a clear work schedule

One way to avoid burnout is to create a schedule that shows a clear difference between working and nonworking hours. On your schedule, list the hours that you have class, and then approximately how many hours of homework you have, as well as hours for work and internships. If you find that simply stating the hours isn’t enough, try to plan your day in one-hours segments. Make sure to never do work in your non-work hours, because that will leave you feeling like you can’t catch a break. I find this to be a super helpful strategy to avoid burnout because it visually allows you to see which hours you have free from stress.

An illustration of a planner filled with writing and sticky notes and a pencil resting on top of it against a blue background.
(Staff Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Plan your manis and pedis

Similar to the last tip, try planning out your self-care activities. Although it may seem silly, writing in your daily planner “watch Harry Potter at 7 p.m.” will help to ensure that you are incorporating enough personal time in your day. Additionally, you can add “manicure” or “face mask” when you have 15 minutes free in your non-work hours. Not only will this help you organize your time and check off more boxes on your to-do list, but it will also make sure you are prioritizing yourself, a key component to avoiding burnout.

An illustration of brightly painted nails next to pink and blue bottles of nail polish spilled on the floor against a brown background.
(Staff Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Take a trip

When you can tell a burnout is lingering, try planning a trip for next summer or even a day trip for the coming weekend. Getting away is a perfect way to de-stress and to treat yourself during stressful times, even if it’s just a train ride to Connecticut to explore a new city. If planning a trip adds more anxiety to your life, try making a dream list of all the places you want to see in the world. Start small — each week, add one more step to your plan, such as finding a hotel, rental car or plane ticket. This way, you have something exciting to look forward to coming up — something to push you to keep going until you get your hard-earned reward.

An illustration of a packed carry-on suitcase full of clothes, a camera and a passport against a pink background.
(Staff Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Cut down on overworking

Prioritize what’s really important to get done, and cut out the rest until you feel your battery is charged up again. If you have three internships and classes that are draining you dry, try to communicate with one of your internships and ask if you can take a week or two off for your mental health. If they allow it, great — go recharge. If they don’t, well, you don’t want to be working for a group that won’t prioritize your mental health anyway. Whatever it is, try to lighten your load and invest more time in sleeping, curating a nutritious diet, and creating an environment that you don’t feel like you have to escape from.

An illustration of a woman in office clothes with a laptop sitting on top of an hourglass surrounded by clocks, calendars and sticky notes against a purple background.
(Staff Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Understand yourself

Before you reach full-on burnout mode — laying in bed for days in a row and developing apathy for every class you have — it’s important to stop burnout in its tracks. One way that I can tell a burnout is coming on is my diet. If I find myself getting takeout every night and drinking five coffees a day, I can tell it’s getting bad. Some more examples of pre-burnout are if you find yourself attending your classes less, doing less homework, or simply canceling fun plans to just lay in bed. Recognizing positive habits that you have is vital, because when you find them lacking, it could predict an upcoming burnout.

An illustration of a woman dressed in black sitting cross-legged on the ground and looking into a large mirror against a green background.
(Staff Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

The most important task you have in life is taking care of yourself, whether that be through means of self-care or through creating a life that you don’t have to escape from. The stress of school and internships and work is enough to make anyone feel burnt out. It is vital that you always prioritize your mental health.

Contact Autumn Kaufman at [email protected]