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  • Elias Azizi

Burnout and It's Effect on the Mind

By: Elias Azizi, Contributing Writer

The school year is a time where students work restlessly, aiming to get the best possible grades. With homework, assignments, and tests, students have a lot to work on everyday - it tends to be rare for a student to have much free time. Yes, working hard for hours during one day isn’t too strenuous, but most students work hard during at least 5 days of the week, during all 4 weeks of the month, and during all 9 months of the school year. All this hard work and effort may be rewarding, but one must not overwork themselves so that they don’t burnout. Burnout is common amongst not only students, but really amongst anyone who works. In a survey conducted by Gallup (a management consulting company), out of 7500 full-time workers, 23% of them describe feeling burned out more often than not. It tends to happen when one works hard for hours at a time with limited breaks. Burnout may be minor at first, but after weeks and months of excessive amounts of work, it can take a toll on the mind. Therefore, it’s important for one to understand what burnout is, its signs and symptoms, and how to avoid it.

When Does Burnout Tend to Happen?

Burnout is a manifestation of stress caused by work. Although there isn’t an exact amount of time it takes to burnout, certain factors may influence your likelihood of burning out. First of all, work hours is a major factor that determines your chance of experiencing burnout. Individuals who work long hours, as well as overtime hours (hours after a given shift) are more likely to burnout. Evidently, this is the case because the more you work, the more likely you are to get extremely fatigued and stressed. Burnout also tends to happen when one starts to no longer enjoy the work that they are doing. When one finds their work to be monotonous, they lose the desire to work. Working tirelessly without any motivation can cause one to become easily fatigued and possibly even burned out.

Signs of Burnout

The signs of burnout are quite unique, so it’s easy for one to identify someone who is burned out. A major sign of burnout is high levels of stress. When working for long hours throughout multiple days in a week, one can become very stressed. This excessive stress can be related to the working conditions, finances, spending time with family, and much more. Another key sign is fatigue and a lack of desire to continue working. When one no longer enjoys their work or feels impatient with their job after working many hours, they are likely burned out. Lastly, a sign of burnout that tends to be common is the sudden use of drugs or alcohol in order to suppress the feelings of stress. Since many drugs and alcohol are depressant drugs, they make one feel calm and at ease, which can counteract stress and anxiety (stimulation). Therefore, chronic use of substances can be a sign of burnout.

The Impact of Burnout

The consequences of burnout are related to cases where individuals ignore their burnout instead of getting help. Some of the consequences of unaddressed burnout are excessive stress, fatigue, insomnia, and irritability. These are the less serious consequences of burnout, but they can still be very detrimental to one's well being. For example, excessive stress and a lack of sleep can lead to low amounts of energy and a lack of motivation. The more serious consequences of burnout are heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and a higher chance of contracting/developing other diseases.

How to Prevent + Deal with Burnout

Based on the plethora of negative effects of burnout, it’s evident that one would want to avoid it. Luckily, there are several ways that one can prevent and deal with job related burnout.

  1. Don’t work overtime everyday: As explained before, overtime hours are when people work hours outside of their given shifts. Shifts are already around 8 hours in length for full-time workers, so one shouldn’t choose to work multiple extra hours every day. Yes, one can work overtime hours once or twice a week, but one must avoid working overtime everyday in order to prevent burning out. The high rates of pay for overtime hours may seem tempting, but the best thing to do for your mental health is not work overtime everyday.

  2. Sleep regularly: Sleep is a major factor that can lead to burnout. A lack of sleep can cause one to become exhausted quickly, which can increase your risks of burnout. Therefore, one must maintain a regular sleep schedule in order to get a healthy amount of sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, a teen should try to sleep 8-10 hours a day in order to feel refreshed and energized when one wakes up. In order to maintain a good sleep schedule, one must not procrastinate and do all their work at night. It’s fine to work a bit at night, but leaving all your work until 1 in the morning will affect your sleep schedule, and likely lead to burnout.

  3. Take a day off: Sometimes, the best thing to do for your mental health is taking a whole day off. This is a great option for those who work long hours and can’t reduce their weekly hours. As well, days off should be taken when one starts to experience the signs of burnout, in order to not worsen the consequences. During this day off, one should try and relax as much as possible. Sleep and exercise should be prioritized during the day off, as these activities can help reduce stress and calm the body.

Concluding thoughts

Burnout is a topic that should be discussed more often amongst teens and adults. The fact that it can affect anyone at any time makes it relevant to all of our lives. As long as one understands the causes of burnout, one should be able to completely avoid it. Yes, one may still face burnout at some time in their lives, perhaps during exam week, but one must know how to reduce its consequences. Simple things like walking and sleeping can counteract the effects of burnout. The big thing one must understand in order to prevent burnout is that our own health matters most, no matter what. Risking your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing by working tirelessly for weeks or even months is not worth it in the long run. To all the students who are working day and night to get the best possible grades, remember to not overwork. Utilize the weekends by spending more time doing relaxing activities like reading, and make sure to rest for at least 8 hours every night. Burnout is easily avoidable, so one must never put themselves in a position where they are at a high risk of burning out. One’s choices determine one’s outcome.

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