Bursting through burnout

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It happens around the nine-week mark almost every semester—I start experiencing burnout.

In the fall it can be blamed on several things. First of all, fall break is much shorter than spring break. Second, it gets darker earlier which destroys my motivation to do anything after 5 p.m. Third, for some reason, the middle of the fall semester has always seemed busier to me than the spring does.

I thought this semester would be different, if only because it is my last semester. With graduation just on the horizon, I thought I could breeze through this semester in the blink of an eye. I was wrong.

Time is flying, but I forgot to factor in “senioritis.” Turns out, burnout gets you even quicker when you’re ready to just be finished.

In the last month I have worn myself out. Every day has been busy from morning ‘til night. Many of you are nodding your heads in agreement right now. You’ve been there. You may even be there now, but fear not — there is hope.

After an exhausting fall “break”, I took this last weekend to rejuvenate and try to burst through my burnout. Here are a few things that helped me reset my outlook, and may be beneficial to those of you struggling with your own burnout.

Reward yourself.

It helps to have something to look forward to, even if it is something small. Set small goals throughout the day, with a specific reward assigned to each task.

Everyone has something that brings them joy. For some it’s a good book, a favorite movie or a favorite hobby. For others it’s a nap, a walk around the neighborhood or a phone call to a close friend. Most of us are no stranger to the joys of a favorite meal; they don’t call it “comfort food” for no reason.

For me, it is the uncontainable bliss that is a new episode of “Once Upon a Time.” Actually, I have several favorite shows that I use as rewards for accomplishing tasks.

I have learned over the years that I get less done when I try to do as much work in one night as possible without any sign of a break in sight. Breaking up the monotony of homework with an escape from reality is the best solution I have found yet.

Clear your head.

A large part of a burnout for me is that my head just gets clouded with all the things I need to do vs. all the things I want to be doing. Sometimes I just need to reset my thought cycle.

By now, chances are most of us know ourselves well enough to know what it is that helps us clear our minds. Some people exercise, some people zone out in front of the computer and others go hunting.

I clean the house. I am able to think through things while I clean, and once I’m finished, I look around and see my new blank slate. It’s therapeutic as well as practical.

While rewarding myself and clearing my head help break up the pattern of a burnout, there is one thing specifically that helps me burst through it completely.

Practice gratitude.

I have found nothing as effective for combating a burnout and a bad attitude as changing my thought process to one of gratitude.

On those days when it seems too hard to get out of bed, I simply remind myself to be grateful. Grateful for the sunrise, for breakfast, for a parking spot that isn’t three miles from my class or for a smile from a stranger.

There are millions of things to be grateful for in any given day, and an attitude adjustment begins with finding just one.

Practicing all three key methods of bursting through a burnout helped me feel renewed and ready to face these last several weeks of college life. Here’s to a successful end to the semester and the hope of new beginnings thereafter.