How you can prevent burnout and be more productive

It’s that time of year - well for students anyway. It’s almost December and those end of fall term exams are starting. Which probably means lots of late nights, studying and stress. 

Even if you’re not a student I’m sure you’ve felt the impact of stress and burnout at one point or another. 

Burnout is characterized by exhaustion. Often when experiencing burnout, it can be hard to focus on and finish your tasks to the best of your ability.

To take care of your mental health it’s important that you know when things are starting to become overwhelming and also to know how to handle burnout when it does happen. 

An article by Paula Davis-Laack, JD, MAPP, in Psychology Today outlines some of the ways you can manage burnout - here are a few that we thought made the biggest impact:

  1. Self-efficacy (see our previous blog post)

    Self-efficacy is your personal belief in your abilities and has affects on your reaction to different situations.

In terms of burnout, self-efficacy is important because having a strong sense of self-efficacy allows you to better handle stress and be less susceptible to burnout.

2. Mindfulness

Being mindful is important so you are able to notice when stress becomes overwhelming for you. People handle stress at different levels and in different ways so it is important for you to know when too much is too much so you can act accordingly and allow yourself to find ways to lessen the negative affects.

Practicing mindfulness means paying attention to your thoughts and noticing how different things affect you. Being mindful can help you figure out which situations cause you stress and find out which things you do that help to lessen the negative affects.

3. Have a creative outlet

Always focusing on school or work can be hard on your mind. Finding things you enjoy doing are great to engage your mind and help you focus on the tasks you need to get done. By allowing yourself to do things you like, you are able to better focus on other things because you are giving your brain the space it needs to refocus.

4. Allow time for yourself

If you notice that you’re starting to fall into burnout, it’s important that you recognize that and take the time you need to relax for you to be better equipped to handle the stress you are experiencing. This doesn’t mean avoiding your tasks altogether, but it does mean that you should take a break when you need to. Whether that means going for a walk, reading a book or just sitting down for a few minutes, taking a break is really important.

5. Resiliency

Like stress, everyone has a different sense of resiliency. Some are able to be knocked down and get right back up stronger than ever while others have a hard time getting back up. To increase your resiliency, try to focus on positive emotions. Don’t completely ignore the negative ones, but try to remember not to be so hard on yourself if you feel you haven’t accomplished what you set out to do. What matters is your ability to get up and try again and to remember that you are capable.

These aren't all of the ways to manage burnout, but they are all big contributing factors in your ability to do so.

So this exam season, try to remember to take a break, think positively, be creative and be mindful and you might just have an easier time when you experience burnout.

Davis-Laack J.D., M.A.P.P. (2013) 7 Strategies to Prevent Burnout. Psychology Today.

Jennifer P