Did you know? Burnout happens most often to the hardest working, most committed and dedicated individuals? If you are striving to hit big goals and working as hard as you can, you are at the greatest risk of burnout. Research shows that burnout can impact your health, personality, professional, and personal life and well-being. This can be especially dangerous in school, where many students are working towards better grades, high test scores, and college acceptance. Student-athletes are even further at risk from the demanding schedules of after-school practices.
A big part of mindset training is being proactive. We train and strengthen our minds to be ready to handle the challenges we will eventually face. Burnout is no different. What are you doing right now to prevent burnout? How are you ensuring that you can continue your strong work ethic and push towards your goals without suffering from the mental exhaustion of burnout? Here are five solid steps you can take right now!
1) Process – How do you define success? Do you attach intelligence to grades?
Many students view their intelligence by their test scores. When the result is the only thing that matters, students who are not consistently seeing the result they hope for may feel burned out quicker.
Avoid burnout by focusing on the process. Keep yourself accountable to making good decisions, and reward the effort and following of your daily action plan. Classroom participation, strong study habits, healthy balance between school and life, and other related indicators of success should be the point of focus. If you are getting the process right and enjoying the act of becoming a better student, the results will come without any needed worry or pressure.
2) Purpose – What intrinsic motivation do you have for your education? Is it your goal and mission to raise their performance? Does your motivation rely on extrinsic factors?
Burnout escalates from a lack of purpose. If you cannot answer the question, “why am I learning this?” burnout is more likely to occur. If your purpose is to create a certain result (GPA, test score, etc.) you will take your focus off of the process and create added pressure.
It is important to have a clear idea of your purpose and fill it with motivation from within. Wanting to become a better student, pushing to be more well-rounded, improving your character by working on your consistency… These are all examples of a strong inner purpose that will fight off burnout.
3) Practice – Are you preparing for class the way you prepare for a test? Do you know how to regulate your emotions?
Often, class sessions are either very relaxed or incredibly high stakes, with little in between. Burnout can ramp up from the sudden increase of pressure that comes with things like high-stakes tests, large project due dates, or presentations that are scattered through an otherwise calm school year.
In sports, it is important to practice the way you want to perform. School is no different. If you want to be prepared for the high stakes of a standardized test, you need to be used to handling pressure in academic situations. Sit towards the front of the class, participate often, offer to tutor and help classmates, do more questions than are assigned in class. Increase the pressure of regular class days and practice calming techniques (deep breathing, visualization, etc.) in order to make test days less special or stressful.
4) Progress – How do you know you have made progress? Do you see small achievements in the process of making bigger gains?
Feedback is an important aspect of burnout reduction. If you have been pouring your effort into your goals and see no progress, you may begin to feel burned out or feel like that effort has not been worth it. Prevent burnout by evaluating your progress and not your results.
Seek out feedback from mentors, parents, teachers, and friends. Focus on improvement. Don’t ask how your grades are. Ask how your work has evolved throughout the school year. Save old work and compare it to the work you are doing now. Keep track of how often you complete your daily action plan. These are all good ways to evaluate your progress while focusing on the process.
5) Participate – How involved are you? Are you participating in your classes? On campus? In your family / friend groups? In life?
Isolation is a key indicator of burnout. To avoid burning out, it is vital to find support by being proactive and involved. Join clubs and community organizations. Be an active member of the society around you. It will create a support system of people who are invested in your success and happiness. It will also give you an opportunity to step outside of your own challenges to focus on helping others. That perspective-gaining can help you fight off burnout.
Burnout can interrupt your success and your happiness. To live out your potential, stay on top of burnout and use these 5 P’s to overcome it!