Don’t Let Burnout Get the Best of You

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Mid-summer July days are dangerous for the hardworking intern—it’s easy to be seduced into laziness by the beautiful summer weather. At this time, it’s also easy to fall into a slump at your job or internship. It’s very common for students with high-pressure jobs to experience feelings of anxiety, stress and burnout during this point in the summer. Luckily, there are some surefire strategies to combat it.

Find time for yourself.

Although your job may have you working overtime at the office, it’s absolutely crucial that you find time to get back to yourself throughout the week. “You have to try and balance as much as you can, whether it’s a game of pickup basketball on a weekend or 30 minutes at the gym after work,” says Dan Krenitsyn, a junior at Cornell University. Finding small windows of time to do activities for your own benefit are a way to maintain physical and mental health.

Moreover, make sure the non-work related activities you’re participating in fill you back up emotionally and physically when your tank is empty. “Make a list of things that make you feel emotionally fulfilled, energetic, and alive,” advises Brooke Miller, emotional health expert, advice columnist and founder of Soapbox Therapy. “Things like getting a massage, taking a nap in the middle of the day, acupuncture, going to see live music, talking to a particular friend, etc.” When you start to feel burnout coming on, complete an activity from your list.

Take good care of your body.

When you’re stressed, your body begins to shut down. Listening to what your body has to say becomes crucial when stress and high anxiety become too overwhelming. Eating right and exercising are two ways to make sure your body stays physically healthy when your mind may be exhausted. Karen Feuerstein, a junior at Cornell University, swears by “always getting a good night’s sleep” in order to continue to perform her best. Once you start to neglect your body’s needs, stress can more easily manifest itself within your life.

Stay connected.

With a job that keeps you from sunrise to sunset, it’s easy to become self-absorbed and consumed with your own personal ventures. Many students block others out because they are over-invested in their own successes. This is unhealthy, seeing as one of the greatest mood boosters is human contact. “Scheduling fun things to do with friends ahead of time forces me to get out after work and connect with others when I could easily be recharging on the couch alone,” says Feuerstein. “It forces me to not be lazy and fall into a slump.”

Keep the big picture in view.

Although you may feel discouraged by the effects of burnout so early in your career, it’s vital to keep the big picture in mind. Your hard work now will pay off in the future—many companies are structured to make you work from the bottom up, and taking the time now to devote so much of yourself to your job will benefit in the long run. “Stay motivated—if you’re not, that’s when you lose the drive and start to hate the job and burn out mentally and physically,” says Krenitsyn.

Remember that you’re not falling apart.

No matter how much it feels like you are, you need to believe that burnout won’t get the best of you. “Burnout can be a huge mind trick—it doesn’t mean you’re going nuts and it doesn’t mean you aren’t good at what you do,” states Miller. “If you’ve ruled out any medical issues that may be going on, such as sickness or sleep deprivation, then burnout is just an ‘empty tank’ tricking you into thinking you’re falling apart."

Once you understand that burnout is just a sign of having an empty tank, take action and fill it back up—rather than believing your engine is sputtering out of control.

Junior > English > Cornell University

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