If you overload yourself or don't plan out your priorities, you might experience burnout.
As a graduate student, you’re no stranger to the idea of a jam-packed schedule. Sometimes, being busy is empowering and exciting. Other times, it gets to be too much. Coursework may have taken its toll on your personal life. You might have had to call off plans with your friends to stay in and finish a big paper. Or the stress of your balancing act has caused your grades to suffer. Especially if you’re working full-time while earning your graduate degree, there’s no doubt you feel the strain of exertion.
There are plenty of ways you can manage grad school burnout, the state of mind in which your piling responsibilities has transformed from stimulating to overwhelming. Here are some of our top tips to help you stay level-headed during your busiest weeks, months and semesters:
No matter how busy your schedule is, it’s crucial for your mental health that you do a little bit of what makes you happy every single day. Maybe this means fitting a 30-minute run into your day to help you clear your head and get some much-needed physical activity. Or perhaps it requires you to read a book for pleasure — not for school — every night before bed. Even though it’s important to make sure you’re meeting your deadlines and putting in your best effort in each of your graduate school courses, there’s nothing more crucial than your own well-being.
Whether you’re an introvert or extravert, it’s in your nature to want at least a little bit of communication every day. Sometimes, when you get busy, it can be easy to forget to reply to friends’ texts or accidentally ignore a call from a family member. Other times, you might be avoiding social interaction altogether out of fear that it might distract you from completing an assignment on time. Use your best judgment when it comes to balancing grad school and your social life. There may be times you’ll have to say no to outings with friends. Just try to schedule out your work so declining plans doesn’t become a habit.
If you’re completing a graduate program online, you might not be getting the social interactions you crave every day. In this instance, make sure you reach out to friends or family regularly to touch base and feel the love. Plus, speaking to someone can give you some much-needed advice and insight on dealing with your burnout. It’s a win-win, really.
If you’re an ambitious student, you might be tempted to load up on several courses at once. That way, you can get your graduate degree earlier than expected and open the doors for career development more quickly. It all sounds great when you position it like that, but before you try to fill up your schedule to the brim, take a step back and think “Is it worth it?” If it could compromise your mental health, it probably isn’t.