Mental HealthWork LifeAm I burnt-out, academically?

You have a full day of lectures and tasks ahead of you when you wake up. You want to crawl back into bed because the thought of undertaking any of these tasks feels overwhelming. You are irritable and cannot seem to get yourself to relax. You feel disturbed. It all just feels a little too much. If this sounds like you, you may be experiencing academic burnout.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Academic Burnout is the very same thing, but results from a prolonged study program/ duration/ number of hours; leading to exhaustion, frustration, lack of motivation, and reduced ability in school.

It may be caused due to studying the same material or from continuous years of schooling. This is not similar to the occasional feeling of frustration/irritation when you have been studying for hours on end, or exhaustion from pulling an all-nighter. It is rather a chronic condition from long-term study or schoolwork.


Academic burnout symptoms are more than just tiredness, fatigue, and feeling like you cannot attend another class. Burnout can cause psychosomatic problems like headaches, insomnia and depression. Some common signs are:

  • Constant feelings of exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation to start your assignments or attend class
  • Higher frequency of illness due to stress and exhaustion
  • Overeating, staying up too late, nail-biting, or any other habit you tend to repeat when you are stressed or not taking care of yourself
  • Inability to concentrate in school or while you work
  • Increased boredom or uninterest in school or hobbies you used to enjoy
  • Increased aches and pains like headaches, neck soreness, backaches, tight muscles
  • May experience clinical depression and/ or anxiety

How can I prevent academic burnout?

It is possible that sometimes you forget to acknowledge the little things that keep you going. Outings, self-care, catching up with friends, making time for family, journaling, spending quality time with your own thoughts are all things that fill our cap. Identify the things you can control. Organize your life; plan a schedule, prioritize what is important, but always leave time to check in with yourself!

If you have deadlines, a hectic semester ahead, are battling school/university projects at once, worried about further education, you may be concerned about feeling burnt out and looking to prevent it.

  • Make time for activities you enjoy, and not just over a weekend- Try to spread out the little joyous things throughout your week so that your days do not feel as monotonous.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself- Short-term goals are usually easier to meet, and are less disappointing. Break down the expectations that you have from yourself, practically.
  • Plan- Maintain a planner for yourself, organize your work, and prioritize that which is important.
  • Time Management skills- Try to schedule time for fun and social activities. It keeps you motivated and energized. Making time for yourself is always important.
  • Physical exercise- Walks, jogs, running, yoga, stretching, cardio, and weight-lifting are all physical exercises that release pent-up tension in your muscles/limbs. If you think you have time to go on a hike this weekend by yourself or with friends/family, go ahead!
  • Avoid mindlessly scrolling on your phone- It will make you feel tired and the chances of you comparing your life with others increase. It is important to sleep well and screen time hampers that drastically.
  • Seek social support- It is always nice to have friends who can boost your mood and energy after a long, tiring day. Keep your loved ones in the loop about your feelings and schedule. 
  • Reach out for professional help- Most schools and colleges usually offer individual counseling or support groups for students who are struggling. If not, there are various mental health platforms where you can seek support.

Take good care, because your academic life is only a part of your complete life, holistically. 🙂

About the Author- Rachel Dutta is a practicing Psychologist in Gurgaon, India. She works with teenagers and young adults and holds a masters degree in Counselling Psychology from Christ University.

This article has been edited by Shaurya Gahlawat.

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