Written by: Lok Qi Ern (22-O1)
Designed by: Angelica Chiw (22-I6)
As junior college students, we definitely aren’t strangers to long hours of studying with little to no rest. In the arduous and gruelling race towards the finish line, we often find ourselves evaluating all of our life choices and wondering why we get out of bed every morning, feeling disappointed and full of dread (and no, sending that ‘Time to drop out of JC’ sticker on Whatsapp is not the answer to your problems).
In fact, this is a sign of disillusionment; a feeling of disappointment in something we once highly valued (our education), which is a telling sign of burnout. It’s the knowledge that we all worked extremely hard to be where we are now, only to find pressure and inevitably disappointment getting the best of us. Other symptoms can include lacking the energy to be consistently productive (aka feeling ‘tired’ ‘drained’ ‘sian’ all the time), changing sleep habits, finding it hard to concentrate, being easily irritable, and being troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints. If reading the aforementioned behaviours feels like scanning through the past (or ongoing) chapter of your life, tailor-written down to the last sentence, you are likely experiencing burnout.
It is now important to clarify that burnout is not a medical diagnosis, though it has been known to be linked to depression. This does not make it any less serious of a condition, as many students are unaware that they are experiencing burnout, and do not take action before it gets out of hand.
The good news is that there are several courses of action you can embark on to get rid of burnout!
A crucial step to take is to set boundaries. When you’re not working, leave your work behind, Therapist Thornton says. As hard as it may seem, creating a physical and mental headspace to rest would allow us to disengage from the causes of stress, and be better prepared to take on the work with a clear mind. Of course, this works with sustained discipline.
Additionally, engaging in sports and exercising might seem like a burden to some of us, but regular physical activity can even be, daresay, life-changing especially when coping with burnout. Physical activity improves brain health and reduces stress rates, leading to a clearer mind to approach work with a fresh mindset, and as we take small steps towards regaining interest in the work we do on the daily, we will perhaps regain satisfaction from learning.
Confiding in loved ones and trusted adults is also important, along with building a strong support system that can detect when you are falling back into your habits and guide you back on track. We are, ultimately, social creatures, and having the support of other humans is extremely important.
Change isn’t easy. It’s why we tend to fall prey to the beckoning comfort of old habits and addictions— sitting in your chair and binging that Netflix show to avoid thinking of your problems is always easier than going for a jog to clear your mind. But fret not, as identifying that one is experiencing burnout is the first and most important step to beating it. Press on, and as a wise man once said: people often say that motivation doesn’t last. neither does bathing— that’s why we recommend it daily