A simple plan to recover from study burnout + emotion
Earlier this year I used these simple strategies to build a daily habit of exercise. I wasn’t working out for hours every day, but I was spending some time every day purposefully moving my body. Full disclaimer: exercise has never been a passion of mine. In fact, I’m fairly passionate about not exercising! Creating this daily habit took effort and focus, and I felt so proud of myself for sticking with it and keeping up this commitment every day. High five, self!
Any guesses what happened next?
Our family got sick. Each of us staggered the 10-day virus so it felt like we were sick all month long. It just kept going! I got really exhausted trying to keep up with work, take care of everyone, and find the energy to exercise. I felt tired and overwhelmed. Since working out was still a habit I had to be conscious of sticking with, it was easiest to let slide.
I mean, c’mon, I was sick!
My guess is that your study habits may feel a lot like exercising does for me. It’s not your passion and you’re working to create regular habits that stick. You don’t want to study, but you want to graduate, so you put in the hard work. And often it feels like hard work, no?
What do you do when there is an unexpected stressor?
Do you feel tired and overwhelmed by your study habits as I felt with my exercise routine?
What does study burnout look like
Sometimes it isn’t a clearly-defined stressor like an illness leading to burnout. It can be a series of small responsibilities added or even too many good things going on. This type of study burnout is more difficult to identify, and may look like:
- Skipping regular study sessions
- Skipping class
- Repeatedly putting off an assignment
- Dropping grades in a course
- Procrastinating school altogether
- General lack of motivation
If you identify with any of these signs, you may be stuck in the middle of study burnout. If so, it’s OK. You’re in the right place, and we’re in this together!
Why We Get Off Track
Getting off track and missing our goals is normal. Our society puts a lot of pressure on working hard and achieving every goal. I’m a very driven person and am guilty of pushing myself to meet every single goal as a measure of success! I’m prone to be really hard on myself when I don’t hit every single one.
The more experience I have with failure and success, the more I see the process of failure as normal. This is particularly true for students and anyone learning something new.
Learning is a series of failures.
This doesn’t have to be a negative thing! I’m still learning how to be a successful adult who exercises and you are still learning how to be a successful student. The process is tricky. Along the way, we are going to fall back into our old patterns, or sometimes we need to intentionally turn our attention to other things for a time.
The most important thing is to identify where you’re at now and decide where you want to be instead. These strategies help you to get back on track and recover from study burnout.
Steps to Getting Back on Track and recover from study burnout
Here are four steps to help you get back to studying and recover from study burnout:
1. Be Honest
The best way to change anything is to be clear about where you’re starting from. When you’ve broken your study habits this means admitting you’re off track.
You’ve burned out. Gotten off track. Need to get back to normal. It is OK. Totally Normal.
Perhaps most importantly, offer yourself some kindness.
There is no point in beating yourself up over where you’re at today. Recognize where you’re at today and what level you are maintaining your study habits. Manage all of this inner chatter by allowing it to be. We have all been here at one time and chances are it won’t be the last. 🙂
If you want to recover from study burnout you need to acknowledge what has gotten you here. What caused your habits to derail? Was it an:
- job change
- new work assignment
- lack of planning
- something else?
Be honest about the cause because it helps you identify the best solution. It is also something you can plan ahead for and avoid in the future.
2. Take Care of Yourself
This may seem unconnected, but it’s not! We can’t do our best work when our bodies aren’t working at their best level. I’m prone to try and fix my messed up habits first, rushing to be busy and get a lot done so I’m caught up quickly.
It usually feels like the right thing to do, but rarely works out well for me.
To really work efficiently I have to take care of myself first. This means ensuring I’m eating regularly, healthy meals, and getting plenty of sleep. When I have this foundation each day, I’m unstoppable!
Taking care of yourself looks different for each of us, but should center around nutrition and sleep. These basics fuel our bodies to do all of the things they need to do.
A healthy body sustains you!
3. Focus on your goals
Part of recovering is regaining some motivation.
Remember, motivation never comes from your assignments and homework. None of us want to do those things. What we want is the result of studying.
Those dreams fuel our motivation to study. We don’t want to exercise every day, but we do it to get a hot bod. Similarly, none of us want to study every day but we want the bigger and better future a degree offers.
4. Start Again Slowly
Hopefully, you’ve noticed that I haven’t yet suggested you actually DO anything. It goes totally against my action-based tendencies, but I have learned recovery is much more about how you approach things than what you do.
With the foundation of the first three steps, you are positioned better for success. And the process of success starts slowly.
It may feel like starting over with your habits. My exercise habits felt exactly like starting over, but they grew and stuck much more quickly than the first time around.
What other strategies have worked for you to recover from study burnout? Leave a comment below and let me know!