What is burnout?
Burnout is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “A state of emotional and physical exhaustion caused by a prolonged period of stress and frustration” (also many references to marijuana are included in Urban Dictionary’s definition, but that is not what we are talking about today lol).
A compilation of studying into the early hours of the morning, overindulging in coffee and other stimulants, multiple exams, a huge event planned by students who don’t know what they are doing (in my case, UGA CVM’s Open House), and general life stress can ultimately result in chronic fatigue and a general feeling of “I JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE.” Side note – In real life, profanity would be used in between every word of that sentence. On a positive note, WE ARE ALMOST DONE! Only one month left until we are finished with our first year of veterinary school. But I guess the real question is: what should I do if I am experiencing burn out?
- Identify the root cause of the burnout. Are you sleep deprived? Stressed? Sick? Feeling out of control? Once you identify the most significant cause you can address it.
- Example: Personally, I hate to feel out of control. And when I don’t exercise, I have really bad anxiety. I know this about myself so I can implement preventative techniques to stop burnout before it happens.
- Make an action plan. You have identified what you are feeling, now it is time to identify WHY. Am I stressed because… I am in veterinary school. Yes. Ok, so what is the game plan? How can I begin to alleviate this stress?
- Example: “I am stressed because I am a veterinary student. I know that I feel more stressed when I don’t exercise, but thinking about taking the time to exercise also stresses me out. It seems like I am always spending an hour at the gym, which turns into two hours with transportation and showering. What should my game plan be?”
- Solution: Instead of going to a gym for an hour or two, why not start small? Small goals are more achievable and also help you feel less overwhelmed (which is the last thing any student needs). Why not try a 30-minute workout at home? There are plenty of apps or free workouts available. My favorite workout app is Nike Training Club and I have the original Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide program, which I use occasionally as well. For yoga, my favorite yoga youtube channel is Five Parks Yoga. I also practice yoga frequently enough that I often times will just listen to my body and guide myself. Don’t have 30 minutes? Why not start with 15 minutes? When I first started exercising on a regular basis, I used this program from Women’s Health Magazine and I found that starting smaller and working up really helped me stick to this program.
- ACT! To prevent burnout, you must ACT. Nothing is ever accomplished by sitting around and thinking about how you should be doing something. Humans are naturally lazy. No successful person has ever gotten to where they are by doing nothing. You must act. This is so much easier said than done. Personally, the best book I have ever read to inspire me to action is called The Slight Edge. Here is a free PDF of the book that you can download and read from your computer or tablet: The Slight Edge. The daily discipline is what truly makes the difference. See my other post about 5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety that may also help prevent burnout.
The truth is we ALL will experience burnout. It is just a matter of time. What we can control is how fast we bounce back and our attitude. A positive attitude can go a long way to feeling happier. Remember that whatever you are experiencing right now is not permanent. Things will change. Enjoy your life and do the things you love, but work hard and enjoy your success. Life is about balance – setting a few minutes aside each day to work on you can go a long way towards your future success.
How do you deal with burnout? Let me know in the comments below and make sure you subscribe to my blog.
Peace & Love.