Updated: Apr 10, 2021
"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes... Including you" - Anne Lamott
High school. A period of your life characterized by tests, anxiety, workload, and drama—all of which can lead to exhaustion and eventually, burnout. Although high school is a stressful experience for all of us, there are several ways to ease this stress. Here is how.
What is Burnout?
The definition of burnout varies from person to person. For most, burnout can be defined as a chronic condition, where an individual experiences an emotional, physical, or mental state of exhaustion. This can result in a lack of motivation, annoyance, and frustration. Burnout is quite common among ambitious high schoolers, who typically tend to overload themselves with difficult classes and time-consuming extracurriculars. This prevents them from focusing on equally important matters—such as engaging in self-care, taking breaks, and going out with friends. Symptoms of burnout include insecurity, loss of inspiration, passively doing your schoolwork, increased muscle tensions, headaches, insomnia, depression, illness, stress-eating, and more.
Tips on How to Prevent Burnout
There are several ways in which high schoolers can avoid burnout, but here are some of the most common tips and strategies.
1. Find Time for Yourself
Although school encompasses the majority of our lives as high schoolers, it is important to remember that we are still teenagers, and we have our own lives to live. Thus, being cooped up in your room all day and solely studying is not always an efficient way to use your time. Take breaks and plan an occasional outing for yourself to avoid toxic productivity. Go on frequent walks around your neighbourhood, get boba with a friend, or even try something new—perhaps eat in a new restaurant or buffet. Engage in self-care, by taking showers regularly, using skin-care and facial products, and spending time with your loved ones. Ultimately, ensure that you focus on yourself as a person, because regardless of test scores, grades, and extracurricular activities—you are still a human being who requires love, care, and attention.
2. Establish Healthy Habits for Yourself
Healthy habits can be defined as ways to improve your general wellbeing. Examples include receiving a sufficient amount of sleep each night (nine hours recommended), eating healthily (avoiding junk food and too many snacks), getting plenty of exercise, and drinking enough water (eight glasses per day). Healthy habits will allow you to recover from burnout, and will serve as motivation for you to continue working, both academically and personally.
3. Set a Healthy Routine for Yourself
Use the healthy habits that you have developed for yourself to create a set routine. This routine can involve designated time periods for school, homework, test prep, exercise, extracurricular activities, and self-care. Inevitably, your set routine will surely change. Therefore, always ensure that you make a plan for the next day’s routine. This will allow you to effectively manage your time, and create an efficient work-life balance schedule for the next day.
4. Develop Stress Management Techniques
Stress is fairly common among high schoolers, so it is crucial that you develop ways to cope with this stress. Practice breathing techniques, such as taking deep breaths and holding each breath out for five seconds. Mindfulness and meditation are also useful if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. It is also recommended that you practice yoga to relieve muscle tensions.
5. Practice time management
As teenagers, it is easy for us to get distracted by social media and other activities that do not pertain to schoolwork. This results in procrastination. Procrastination is one of the root causes of burnout since students often take time out of their sleep schedule to complete their assignments, instead of completing them at a designated time throughout the day. Thus, it is important to focus on creating and maintaining an efficient work environment that encourages you to complete all your work in a timely manner. Also, ensure that you focus on finishing your schoolwork earlier in the day, so you can spend the rest of your day engaging in activities that you enjoy. This will allow you to receive a sufficient amount of sleep each night and will lessen the chances of you burning out.
6. Avoid Excessive Workload from Extracurriculars
Another common habit of ambitious students today is that they often overload themselves with unnecessary extracurricular activities, in hopes of appearing well-rounded on college applications. However, such a massive workload will inevitably result in sleep deprivation and eventually, burnout. Therefore, it is recommended that you only focus on extracurricular activities that you are passionate about, and do not consistently overload yourself with time-consuming extracurriculars that you do not like.
7. Form Strong Relationships with Teachers or Peers
Although it may be difficult, try your best to develop close bonds with your teachers or peers. Act friendly, greet them when you walk into class, or even offer to help them with their school work. This will make it easier for you to go to class with a motivated attitude, ease stress, and will allow you to approach school in a more positive way. This lessens your chances of falling into burnout.
8. Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
Every month, make a list of goals that you plan on accomplishing. Ensure that you stick to these goals and that these goals are realistic, ones that you are sure of completing. Creating reasonable goals for yourself will prevent you from overworking yourself in hopes of achieving an unrealistic, unattainable goal, thus weakening your chances of burning out.
By using these strategies, you will not only be able to avoid burnout, but you will also be able to improve upon your daily life. This will lessen the possibility of you overworking yourself and will enable you to form a better understanding of what it truly means to be a student—to not only earn straight A’s and be a class topper but to acquire knowledge, strengthen your skills, and to build relationships that will last you a lifetime.
Henry. “Academic Burnout: How to Prevent It and What to Do: UoPeople.” University of the People, 1 Feb. 2021, www.uopeople.edu/blog/what-is-academic-burnout/.
“How To Avoid High School Burnout.” Oxford Learning, 5 July 2019, www.oxfordlearning.com/tips-to-avoid-high-school-burnout/.