Overcoming burnout: Tips for work and school

How not to dread your next meeting or lecture.

By Barrett White

Heavy workloads, deadlines, screen time, pressure, and stress – these are all typical challenges of work and school. But for these challenges to push you to the point of burnout is a problem.

But what is burnout? Aside from stress, the Harvard Business Review reports that research has linked burnout to many negative physical and mental health outcomes, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety, as well as to increased alcohol and drug use.

The article goes on to explain that symptoms of burnout may include exhaustion, cynicism (or becoming detached, negative, or callous), and inefficacy (feelings of incompetence, or lack of achievement and productivity).

Ignoring burnout – or trying to power through it – can lead to poor outcomes at work or school and in your personal life. Excessive stress, a poor work-life balance, and a sense of dread can creep into your job or your studies, while that very same stress can wreak havoc on your body in the form of insomnia, depression, anxiety, and even increased blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

There are many ways that you can address burnout that vary from person to person. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, you can try:

  • Open up. If you feel safe doing so, discuss your concerns with your supervisor, teacher, or professor, or even a mentor or advisor. See what needs to be prioritized and what can come later. Sometimes another perspective can help with the reset.
  • Lean on your peers. Maybe instead you lean on coworkers, classmates, friends, or loved ones. If you’re feeling burnt out at work, check with HR to see if you have access to an employee assistance program, which may include services to help you through. If you’re in school, many campuses have an on-site counselor; many college campuses even have therapists available.
  • Hit the gym. Or the pool, the track, your home set-up, or wherever you get active. Physical activity can not only take your mind off of work or school, but can also release endorphins that make you feel good. Regular exercise can promote better overall mental health outcomes.
  • Remember to get enough sleep. Sleep is your body’s crucial form of rest and rejuvenation. Make sure you’re getting enough of it each night: 7-9 hours per night for most adults.