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Combatting Burnout in an Academic Setting

By Bhavya N on February 11, 2023

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According to, “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.” [1] In an academic setting, such as a high school, middle school, college, work environment, etc., burnout is very prevalent and many people are susceptible to it. But there are ways to combat burnout in a school environment. In this article, there will be many tips on how to prevent burnout, use as a resource to prevent burnout, and how to recover from burnout.

Tip #1: Take Breaks

No student should ever feel like they are a workhorse, just forced to keep working until they can’t anymore. Taking breaks is an efficient and effective way to prevent burnout from setting in. But it is also important to ensure that taking breaks does not hinder productivity. A very popular way of incorporating breaks into studying is to use the Pomodoro method, which we all have probably heard of. In the Pomodoro method, you study for around 20-30 minutes and then take a break for 5 minutes. During the break, it is imperative to leave your workspace and reset your mind. Moving around, going outside, or interacting with family and friends (online or in real life) is a good way to reset your brain. Though watching videos online or listening to music might seem like a good way to reset; in the end, it will hinder your productivity. (This is from personal experience)

Tip #2: Study Efficiently

Studying efficiently is important to ensure that extra time is not wasted on studying. Studying efficiently is imperative to recall information, apply the information, and save time. The best way to study is to use active recall methods. Reviewing notes might seem like an effective way to study, but in reality it is not, because your brain is not forced to remember the information. Effective active recall study methods include:
  • Flashcards
  • Taking practice tests
  • Teaching the concept to someone else
  • “Spitting out”
    • Making a slideshow that has all of the information you are trying to learn using only your memory
    • If there are some gaps in your memory, note them down, so you can go back and review the concept
  • “Ping-ponging”
    • Find another friend who is studying the same topic and “ping-pong” with each other, saying facts back and forth
    • This method is especially effective for history, where remembering dates is important
  • Summarize all of the information in 5 sentences or less
    • This method is useful for studying biology, this helps you understand the big picture which is important when studying biology

Tip #3: Set a Cap on How Much You Study Everyday

While it may seem like there will always be an endless amount of work to do, an effective way to prevent burnout is to put a cap on how much you study every day. This will prevent yourself from falling into an endless hole of work, and cultivating a work-life balance. A few exceptions for this tip would be if you had an important exam or test the next day and you need to study. Even then, making sure to unwind a little bit everyday is imperative to preventing burnout.

Tip #4: Getting Adequate Amounts of Sleep

While it may seem efficient to study late into the night instead of sleeping, sleeping will do more for your brain then studying more. According to the NIH, “memories seem to become more stable in the brain during the deep stages of sleep. After that, REM - the most active stage of sleep - seems to play a role in linking together related memories, sometimes in unexpected ways. That’s why a full night of sleep may help with problem-solving.” Sleep is much more effective than pulling an all-nighter for an exam. However, getting good sleep might be difficult for some. Here are some tips to sleep effectively (from the NIH):

“Set a schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.

  • Exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day but no later than a few hours before going to bed.
  • Avoid caffeine [late in the day or before bed]
  • Relax before bed – try a warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine.
  • Create a room for sleep – avoid bright lights and loud sounds, keep the room at a comfortable temperature, and don’t watch TV or have a computer in your bedroom.
  • Don’t lie in bed awake. If you can’t get to sleep, do something else, like reading or listening to music, until you feel tired.
  • See a doctor if you have a problem sleeping or if you feel unusually tired during the day. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.”

In addition to avoiding caffeine late in the day or before bed, try to avoid using blue light devices, such as your phone, computer, monitor, television etc. before bed. The blue light can disturb your brain and the sleep cycles.

Tip #5: Using To Study Effectively And Reduce Stress has many helpful resources to study and reduce stress. As mentioned previously in this article, a way to study efficiently is to teach others. On, you can tutor others in concepts that you are confident in but need review. This way, you are teaching others while also reviewing the concept yourself!

In addition, there are live help sessions on schoolhouse that you can use to get help rather than trying to study on your own and not understand.

In order to reduce stress when studying for AP exams, joining AP Review Series in the AP Review section a few months ahead of time (say, January, or February) can help reduce stress when the AP exams approach. has community sessions that can provide support, help you relax, and reset your mind.

How to Prevent Burnout After It Sets In

After burnout sets in, it is extremely difficult to get rid of it. According to HelpGuide, some symptoms of burnout include:
  • Feeling tired and drained
  • Showing little interest in work, school, or home life
  • Feeling underappreciated
  • Sense of failure and self-doubt
  • Procrastinating

Sadly, feeling burnt out is something that happens to all students. The way that everyone combats burnout is different, but some techniques that help are
  • Getting more sleep
  • Spending more time on tasks that you are passionate about and less on tasks that you are not passionate about
  • Taking breaks
  • Interacting with friends and family to reset your brain
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
    • Exercise does not mean you have to go and run or lift weights, yoga, stretching, dancing, biking are all exercises. Exercise just means to move your body.
  • Take some time away from the screen and away from work

Burnout is a nasty thing that all students will end up facing, but hopefully with these tips, burnout will no longer affect you as much.

Thank you to Hafsah M for editing this article! peer tutoring, for free.


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