Battling Student Burnout

Battling Student Burnout graphic

By Paris Auerweck

As an overwhelmed college student staring down multiple mental health diagnoses, I have felt stuck in a hole more times than not. It can feel like there’s so much to do but nowhere to begin my thoughts.

The mental health crisis for teens and young adults has been increasing during high school and college years. The Healthy Minds Study during the 2020-2021 school year of 373 college campuses found that over 60% of students met the bill for at least one mental health issue. 

I tend to overlook how much work it takes to be a full-time student. The pressures and responsibilities that come with it are heavy. It’s very easy to fall into a long spiral of I don’t know what to do.

While these feelings of hopelessness and depressive burnout may seem irreversible, there are ways to work on slowing down your thoughts to a less alarming level. Being a full-time student will always be hard work but, here’s what I have found helps me the most.

Don’t look at the big picture.

Although this may seem like bad advice, those with mental struggles find navigating countless deadlines, class schedules, extracurriculars and family life to feel utterly suffocating. There are hours I have wasted trying to calm down my anxiety but still repeating I have so much to do in my head. Taking your days one step at a time makes a huge difference. When I am feeling particularly overworked, I like to write down what I need to do only for that day. By the time the day is over, I’m at ease knowing I completed what I intended to. 

Communicate your thoughts aloud.

Mental illness can make communication with others a challenge. 

“Asking for help seems as easy as picking up a phone, but that phone can sometimes feel like it weighs a thousand pounds. It may be a simple notion but it takes practice.”

 Speaking my thoughts verbally alone or in front of others helps me put things into perspective; I am not drowning and alone. There are others that will listen to and support me, as some may be going through the same feelings. Sharing your struggles with faculty, peers and friends can be uncomfortable but, leaving things unspoken proves worse for intrusive thoughts. When I say things out loud, they seem less intimidating and more achievable. 

Listen to your body.

Even with a full schedule, I can often feel as though I am never doing enough. Sometimes it feels as though there is a voice in your head telling you to do more, what you are doing now is not quite good enough. When thoughts like this spiral around in your mind, your physical well-being can take a toll. This creates excess fatigue, worse sleep and much lower energy. If you take a step back and listen to what your body is saying, you realize that your thoughts are not telling you the truth, you are in fact doing enough. Pay attention to what your body is telling you; constant headaches, sore body, fatigue, changing eating habits and nausea could all be part of a bigger problem. It can be hard to make time for self-care but it’s important you do. Eliminate your distractions completely and give yourself the space to reflect on what you have done recently to make yourself feel good. If you fall short, start prioritizing your needs. 

Change your environment

Being outside is a perfect reminder that things are constantly moving. When I am in a space of hopelessness or burnout, taking a walk alone helps me think clearer and doubt myself less. If you are stuck sitting in a place with nowhere to start, get out of your environment and see what perspectives change. 

Balancing life as a student while trying to preserve your mental state can be done. It takes time and patience but, you have to acknowledge the problem openly and make it a priority. Mental well-being is integral to self-improvement and one’s overall health. 

If you are struggling, you do not have to do it alone. Asking for help can put you in a great position to improve and grow as a person. Visit the California Department of Education’s Mental Health Resources page for more resources on where to start. 

5 Tips To Help Manage Anxiety In College: From A PR Student

Pink sunset clouds.

By Jessica Delgado

College students deal with so much during the four years they are in college. Some students take on financial independence, life obstacles, challenging circumstances, and toxic relationships throughout their college years. 

Anxiety can take over your entire day, running plans and obligations you made prior to being triggered. Most college students don’t know they are experiencing anxiety because they know little about it or how to handle it. 

In public relations, the amount of work and time you have to dedicate to strategy briefs, meetings, reports and collaborative work can be very overwhelming. 

Although I am not a licensed doctor and have no degree in psychology, I am a college student, and here are some of my self-help tricks to help with anxiety.

1. Allow yourself to take a step back  

I have experienced the saying, “I bite off more than I can chew,” when it comes to workload. I never want to miss any opportunity for growth in my school and personal life. But there really isn’t enough time in a day to do everything. I know we have all been in a position where we sit down to work on tasks and become completely overwhelmed with what is required from us. I have learned over the years that your mind cannot remember everything. Writing down tasks and their due date can help prevent you from missing deadlines. Planners are a helpful tool in organizing when a task is due. Staying organized with a planner allows you to meet deadlines, takes the stress of forgetting away, and helps prevent getting overloaded with things to remember. 

2. Be in the environment where you feel the safest 

I have always considered “my space” to be the safest. Sometimes if you are in an environment where there are a ton of people or in an unknown area, it can be overwhelming for your mind. Loud noises and chaos can spike one’s heart rate. Being able to go to “your space” to decompress can really help with lowering your anxiety. Whether your space is the TGC office, library, bedroom, kitchen, living room, or car – find a space where you feel comfortable and safe! 

3. Free write your emotions 

Before I found comfort in opening up to people I trusted, I found a lot of comfort in writing down what I feel. Sometimes, we don’t feel comfortable opening up to others, and that is completely okay! Once you begin writing, it can feel like a weight is being lifted off of you. Find something that releases negative emotions and feelings that benefits your mind, whether it is free writing or taking a walk outside. Our minds are very powerful and creative in thoughts. Find something that works for you! 

"You are stronger than what is making you anxious." -Jessica Delgado

4. Talk to a friend or loved one

Find comfort in a friend or loved one when you are experiencing anxiety. I know not everyone feels comfortable or has someone they can go to when they are experiencing anxiety. However, opening up and letting someone know what is going on with you can help. Taking a break to laugh and talk about things like what’s going on with the Kardashians, reality TV, or sports can really help your mind not be in “work mode.”  

5. Leaning on your peers in class 

I know here at TGC, everyone is willing to pick up the slack if help is needed. Having open communication about needing help on a brief or creative project you are working on can help you and your team. Everyone has good and bad days. Relying on your team and letting them know you need to be “saved” can prevent missed deadlines and upset clients. 

Managing anxiety is achievable. Take it day by day by finding what helps you in conquering it! You are loved and you are strong! 

How Do I Survive My First Full-Time Job?

Photo credit: imagerymajestic, Creative Commons
Photo credit: imagerymajestic,

Now that graduation is right around the corner, reality is probably setting in that you are going to start your new full-time job or you are still in the job hunting process.

Let me tell you, having a full-time job is different than being a student. I understand that the majority of students, like myself, juggle school, part-time work and internships just to be able to obtain that full-time job. How could it be any different?

  1.   Get used to sitting in one position for eight hours

I know this might be an exaggeration, but if you are used to running to school, then driving to work for a four hour shift, then meeting with your study group and topping it off with two hours at your internship then this might be a reality.

Being in one location, in one building, when you are used to so many different locations may be a difficult transition for most.

I recommend that you stash a stress ball or some extra snacks in your desk because you will need something to occupy your extra mental space that isn’t being used.

  1.   Eat lunch with your co-workers

This might be difficult at first, but this is just like elementary school. It is easier to make friends when you take the plunge on the first day or week of work.

You don’t want to look like you are too good to hang out with your new co-workers, so lunch breaks are a great way to get to know the people that you work with without slacking on your duties on the clock.

Make sure that you don’t participate in negative gossip that could get you into trouble while you are still the newbie.

  1.   Show up on time

It is bad to be late while you are still new to a job. If there is an emergency, call and let them know ahead of time. This shows that you value the company and you appreciate communication and your job. So set your alarm louder than normal and be on time!

  1.   Set limits

We all want to impress our boss and can get a little “yes” happy when we start new jobs. If you aren’t capable of doing a task, don’t lie.

Tell them that you don’t know how to do the task but you are willing to learn or watch somebody else who knows how to do it. Also, this will help prevent burnout.

You need to find the line between excelling and improving yourself and the point where you are mentally spent and cannot function. Finding that line will help you stay happy at your job without feeling the need to move to another job.

To survive my work day, I read a book and/or take a walk on my lunch break to help compensate for the lack of moving I do being behind my desk writing all day.

The trick is to find out what will work for you early on in your position. These tips are going to be how you survive the transition from being a full-time student to a full-time employee at your new job.

Welcome to the real world.

Here are some other tips that can help you