Have you ever felt hopeless beyond relief? As if there is a part of you that is bursting inwards which you know is supposed to get out, but has seemingly blocked itself? You now have an inner wall that you know you need to break lest it suffocates you and makes you claustrophobic. It didn’t happen one fine day, but has been building up day by day, month by month, until one day you wake up and realize you have changed – you are more cynical, more self defeating, and your humour is often at the expense of yourself or somehow hurting another person.
We, as college students, are often in a rut. For some of us, it is the monotony of each day itself, and for others, it is a more creative rut where you are under the pressure, mostly from yourself, to do better than yesterday. This rut, with a compulsion to prove yourself as deeming of the status you have been allotted (the head of a fest, a corporate intern, a student of engineering, or a friend, a daughter, etc.), and work harder to fulfill what most likely is your own expectation, leading to a complete neglect of your needs and values, is what is known as burnout.
Burnout is a term that denotes an attitudinal exhaustion. Lack of interest in what you earlier found interesting is one classic symptom of burnout. It would be as if some part of you that is itching to come out has been blocked by you, and as if you don’t even care. You have suddenly become more cynical of just about everything, slowly are starting to hate people, isolating yourself from them. You feel as if your friends and family are being annoying by pointing out this fact, however subtly. And the worst part, for you, is that despite working harder your performance is just not satisfactory enough.
And thus begins the negative spiral of outcome. Suddenly your marks are deteriorating, you are fighting with everyone, you find yourself empty and hollow inside, and it is as if your creativity has been sucked out of you. And the worst part is that you are not happy, and you continue to push yourself, you start drinking more often, or at least, slowly find yourself almost addicted to the internet.
Burnout is a very serious problem that could continue for a long time if not acknowledged. The key factor in all this is the additive stress – stress from your coursework, along with stress that accompanies the drop in performance. The only thing to do in this case is to drop everything and take a long break – as outrageous as it sounds.
However, what is better than cure is to prevent it. Some things you could do include:
Take a break
Take short breaks, probably a weekend away now and then, meeting non-work related people, going out for coffee with that long lost friend, or even just a bunch of your colony/school friends, who are doing completely different things than you, so that you don’t talk about work/college.
Get hold of a parent, a sibling, a friend, or anybody else you trust, and just talk about everything that’s bothering you. This way, you’ll feel better by letting go, and they’ll know why you’ve been acting bizarre.
Go on a drive
Take your car, your bike, your scooty, or even your cycle out, and drive away. Let the wind blow your hair, and take away your problems. At least for a short time.
Personal Dance Party
This might feel ridiculous in the beginning, but dancing in your room when no one is watching can make you feel a lot more comfortable in your own skin. And even if you can only dance like Chandler Bing, it is still pretty hilarious.
If you have a voice others can bear, do it with your friends, or else do it alone. Sing along to your favourite songs. Or bleat, whichever it is you do.
Another form of venting is by writing down about your thoughts and ideas. If nothing else, you’ll realize how irrational you are being.
Go for a run
Take all your anger, and frustration and use that energy to run. Even a simple walk will do, as long as you are not sitting in one place and going over and over with your irrational thoughts.
Binge-watch your favourite TV comedy
Laugh all over again watching Friends or How I met Your Mother.
Binge-watch meaningless RomComs
They are so far removed from real life, you will instantly feel better.
All these might seem simple and stupid, but as long as you take occasional breaks from work, burnout would be easily prevented.
Image credit : http://www.pinterest.com/pin/175851560423700280/
About author : Arathy Puthillam is a 3rd year Psychology student (B.A) at St. Xavier’s College (autonomous), Mumbai.