If you feel trapped in a cycle of mental exhaustion and feel emotionally drained since you completed the fall/winter semester, you may be experiencing mental burnout. Sometimes, mental burnout may feel like it is slowly becoming increasingly worse until it is unmanageable. Other times, the feelings of mental burnout can be suppressed during the semester and hit you out of the blue as soon as you complete your final exams. Mental burnout can lead to experiencing negative feelings, decreased motivation, and lower cognitive performance.
While you may feel like you are the only college student dealing with mental burnout, it is very common. According to the American College Health Association’s 2021 health assessment survey, approximately 50% of college students surveyed stated they were experiencing moderate psychological distress, and 22% said they were experiencing serious psychological distress.
If you are struggling with mid-year mental burnout, here are some strategies and tips that can help you manage mental burnout. It is critical to take this break between semesters to prioritize yourself and your mental health before the new semester begins. Even if you are already dreading the coming spring semester, you can enter into it mentally refreshed, motivated, and positive if you take the time to invest in your mental health.
Mental burnout can look different in every student, but some symptoms are common and recognizable. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing mental burnout.
Some of these symptoms may appear during the middle or end of the semester, and often, they can linger into your winter break. Even once a stressor is removed, our minds and bodies can retain stress until we work through it. Sometimes the effects of mental burnout cannot simply be pushed aside or ignored once the semester is over.
Days filled with classes, homework, studying, work, and social time often leave little time for yourself to do things that you enjoy. Participating in activities that you enjoy can help ease the mental strain of the last semester. Pick an enjoyable activity that you have not done during the grueling semester. Whether you like to read a good book in a coffee shop, play video games, go to a movie, or have a mini spa day, your options are limitless. Take the break to do something for yourself.
The holiday season can make the winter break feel busy. Make sure to schedule some time to rest and prioritize getting enough sleep. The last semester probably left you more sleep deprived than you realize. Getting enough sleep over the break will increase your energy, creativity, and cognitive functioning. It can even improve your overall health.
Surrounding yourself with positive social support can be essential to managing and getting through the mid-year mental burnout. Whether you surround yourself with family members or friends this holiday season, make sure that you have at least one positive person that you can rely on and support you.
Write down how you feel about the last semester. What were the highlights of the semester? Make a plan to do more of those things next semester. What areas do you feel like you struggled with the most? Were time management and procrastination a struggle? Time management and procrastination are very common struggles for students that can increase the risk of mental burnout. Make a plan to manage your time better in the next semester and seek guidance if needed. There are many resources on college campuses available to help you better manage your workload; success coaches, counselors, and even faculty members can help you in this area.
Physical activity undoubtedly improves your mental health. It can help manage stress, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve brain function. Even if physical activity is not something you enjoy, make time to engage in regular physical activity. Your body and mind will thank you. Make a plan to spend at least 150 minutes a week doing physical activities. Here are some ideas:
If you feel like you need additional support to manage the mid-year burnout, do not be afraid to seek help. If you are on campus, schedule a meeting with a college counselor. They are qualified to help you navigate through mid-year burnout and give you tools to use in the future to manage mental burnout. Seeking support from a therapist or psychologist could also benefit you, especially if your symptoms of mental burnout are severe and you are experiencing serious psychological distress.
Although there are many things that you can do to help yourself manage the mid-year burnout (as listed above), seeking additional support may be necessary.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.