Let's Talk About Burnout
Let's talk about burnout. It's winter break for college students, finals are over, the pressure is off and it's time to relax. Or is it?
If you're like me, having free time is a blessing and a curse. All semester I look forward to winter break and filling up days with fun activities that are going to be beneficial for my mental health.
Something that has been hard for me to grasp as I enter this year's break is that I still feel pressure when I have nothing to do.
I feel guilty for having free time. I think this is created by the polar opposites I face when I leave school for the holidays.
As a college student I go from living with my best friends, having club meetings, a job, crunching for assignments, finals and more, to absolutely nothing.
It's almost like I’m quitting cold turkey and I am suffering from withdrawal from the excitement of everything.
So when I come home, I expect to do everything I wanted to do for myself over the semester but never got around to.
I create unrealistic expectations for myself to make my days perfect, to work out, do yoga, journal, meditate, unpack, clean my room, bake something, learn new songs on guitar, etc.
While all of these activities are healthy, expecting so much of myself to do this is an impossible standard.
These things are supposed to be restful, and put my mind at ease. It's only when I start replacing them as tasks I need to check off that makes them overwhelming.
If I do everything I want to do throughout a whole semester on the first day I’m back from break, I'm going to experience burnout. If I expect myself to do hard workouts everyday, when I’m used to working out one to three times a week, I’m going to experience burnout.
Creating unrealistic expectations for yourself is going to lead to burnout and disappointment.
So I am going to try to combat that part of my brain that wants to give into hustle culture. Here is how I am quieting that voice that tells me I’m lazy if I don’t check everything off my list.
Firstly, I think it helps to make a list of everything you want to do. Get it out of your head so it's not clouding your thoughts with ‘you should be doing this.’
Once everything is down on paper take time to look at what you wrote, and rationalize. Is anyone else expecting this from you? They probably aren't.
Next you can reframe your goals. It's not a bad thing to want to do better for your health or mental health, it just has to be within reachable goals or you're going to feel stuck. Have one thing you want to do each day instead of several and that way when you accomplish that goal, you can take your time with it and thoroughly enjoy the activity instead of trying to get to the next thing.
An overall tip in life is just to be more present. Try to not expect too much of the future even if it's just what you're doing with the rest of your day. Be happy with what you are currently doing.
After all its winter break and the pressure is off, right?
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