Burnout is a state of exhaustion in mental, emotional, and physical form, due to stress or being overworked. For students who work and study, burnout is particularly prone to occur as there may be little opportunity to take a proper break. In an earlier article, Craccum has discussed the symptoms and negative impacts that work burnout has on individuals and potential steps you can take to counteract its onset. For a more expansive checklist of symptoms and experiences of burnout, have a look at Maslach and Jackson’s 1981 measurement scale.
With Semester One of 2022 coming to a close, Craccum asks students whether they think they’ve experienced burnout symptoms during the semester.
Do you think you’ve experienced some signs of burnout this semester?
Kate, Bachelor of Arts: “Difficulty focusing, are you kidding me?! I was able to feel it from Week Two or Three, and normally I’m someone who can focus no matter what. It really threw me off, there were basic concepts I couldn’t even get because I couldn’t focus on what the lecturer was saying. That really leads into some of the other signs though. If you can’t focus you don’t get the content, so you don’t have the motivation to do it, so you don’t care, and then you’re emotionally worn out from the time you did care. It’s a weird cycle.”
Ben, Bachelor of Engineering: “I’m not going to play into the stigma where men don’t talk about their feelings, I am emotionally exhausted. It’s the constant pressure to still be doing just as well at university regardless of the conditions. You can only take so much and bolster yourself up so much before you come crashing down.”
Do you think this semester has been particularly exhausting in comparison to other semesters?
Victor, Bachelor of Science: “Absolutely. We went into this semester online, after doing practically the whole last semester online, so it just felt like Groundhog Day again. Most of my classes back on campus now have a good 30-40 people in them. People are tired and stressed, they want to come in even less than when we were always on campus.”
Emily, Bachelor of Law: “I think so. Everyone got thrown back into university, and I’ve noticed some of the lecturers even seem burnt out. Everyone’s struggling, which is sad to see because the majority of students are still trying really hard in their classes, and the staff are trying really hard to keep people interactive and involved. I think people have just been trying for too long now, and this semester was really just the tipping point for a lot of people.”
Considering how you currently feel, how well prepared do you feel going into next semester?
Sam, Bachelor of Global Studies: “The break is going to help for sure, but I get to go away. If you’ve got that luxury of being able to go on holiday, live it up with friends, you’ll go into next semester feeling refreshed. I get there’s a lot of people who have to work though, so I think going into next semester there’s going to be a really unfair playing field… but I guess that’s kind of always the case with uni.”
Ben, Bachelor of Engineering: “Honestly, terrible. This semester has just knocked me back in confidence, motivation, you name it, it’s been affected. It feels terrible, I feel terrible. I can’t even blame it on the courses, or the University this time, I think life is just getting so hard for everyone. Everything is expensive, courses are hard to manage because it has to be a weird mix of in-person and online to make everything accessible, everyone’s part-time work is stacking up, and then you’ve got actually learning on top of it. Even with a month off, I think I’m going to struggle next semester and a lot of my friends have said the same.”