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4 tips for avoiding academic burnout

Winter break has come and gone, and it’s time to get back to your early morning classes and late night scrambles to finish assignments. Even though you may be refreshed and ready to start the second round of the school year, it’s important to remember to stay present and mindful in order to avoid the ever-dreaded burnout. 

Psychology Today defines burnout as “a state of chronic stress that leads to: physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” According to the article, burnout is common among high achievers, making college campuses a petri dish for this kind of behavior. Luckily, it is possible to get through college without facing academic burnout. 


Here are a few crucial tips to remember before diving headfirst into your schoolwork again.

1. Take breaks

You hear time and time again about the importance of taking breaks. This is for a good reason because, in the long run, it’s a fundamental truth. As much as it seems counter-productive to take a break when your workload keeps getting bigger, you don’t have infinite energy. If you don’t take breaks, you’re going to burn out before you even have a chance to tackle the harder stuff later in the semester when you really need that energy.

In the end, taking regular breaks will help not only keep you focused, but also will help you stay motivated for longer.

2. Get help when you need it

Trying to balance everything in your life is no small feat, and unfortunately, no one has a one-size-fits-all method that will fix everyone’s life. We all need some help figuring things out, especially our work-life balance.

If you’re not careful, one bad week can easily turn into two bad weeks and so on. While we want to think of ourselves as capable, sometimes the best thing you can do is set your hang-ups aside and ask your professors or advisers for help when you need it so you can get things done.

Colorado State University also offers a variety of resources to help get you back on track. The Institute for Learning and Teaching, or TILT, offers tutoring sessions, academic workshops and a relaxing, light-filled study space open for all students.

The Student Disability Center is located within the TILT building, and it offers more specific accommodations for students. They can arrange help with service animals, physical accommodations or a space outside of the lecture hall to take exams.

3. Go easy on yourself

College is hard enough as it is, but when you add on extracurriculars, work, relationships and all the new struggles of adulthood, it’s amazing that everyone isn’t crying from exhaustion at their college graduation. As much as we want to prove ourselves, sometimes the best thing you can do is not take on any more than you already have.

College is hard, and there’s no reason to stress yourself out by taking on more than you can handle. Take a moment to look at all you’re doing, and realize that you already have enough to do without adding one more responsibility.


4. Assess the situation, break it down and make a plan

When the workload just keeps getting bigger as the semester goes on, the more it seems impossible to do everything and keep up. Eventually, you become more stressed thinking about how stressful everything is rather than doing the assignments. In times like this, it’s best to just take a step back and look at the situation for what it really is.

Instead of looking at the list of things you need to do, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks that you can understand. Then make a plan that involves doing a small amount of each assignment every day rather than working in long sessions. Start working on it before you even give your brain time to think about how stressful the assignment is.

Ty Davis can be reached at or on Twitter @TyDavisACW.

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