College Student Burnout: How to Cope in a Semester of COVID

How do you avoid college student burnout, especially in a pandemic? Stress may be unavoidable, but burnout can be prevented with these tips.

Last fall was my first semester as a college student, and the experience was far from typical, thanks to the raging COVID-19 pandemic. Colleges must adapt in different ways in line with the social isolation efforts to flatten the impact of the pandemic. With most coursework being online, having small breaks taken away during the semester, and the inability for any events or gatherings to be held; many college students ended up feeling overwhelmed. Many struggle in the new learning environments and in addition to the lack of built-in breaks in the semester schedule, college student burnout was at an all-time high.  

We barely survived what seemed like an endless semester.

The spring semester will basically be the same as the last since we’re still amidst the pandemic. No one is looking forward to another semester of potential burnout; but there are ways we can reflect on last semester in order to prepare to cope. The stress may be unavoidable, but burnout can be preventable!

college student burnout and tips to avoid it
Photo by Sean Kong

Validate your feelings

In this crazy time of a pandemic, as well as in general, it’s normal to experience the range of emotions you may be feeling. It’s important to know it’s okay to feel the way you do. Try communicating to others by ranting or simply letting them know how you’ve been feeling. If you prefer, it’s also okay to sit with these emotions for a while. However, if the feelings worsen, reach out to a counselor or specialist you trust.

Try to have a routine

Burnout is often caused by students being put in anxiety-inducing situations stemming from a loss of control. In order to get a sense of control back into your life, maintain a routine. It can be anything that you prefer, and is a form of self-care. This includes telling yourself to complete your work by a certain time, starting and ending your day around the same time each day, or keeping a healthy food routine. 

Make sure to get some sleep

Your body definitely needs time to rest and reset, which is why sleep is such an important part of our lives. Making sure to get a good amount of sleep each night allows you to avoid a lethargic start to the day or feel very lazy and unproductive. 

Take a break 

As an act of self-care, don’t forget to treat yourself with some time for yourself. Step away from your to-do lists and homework to do something you enjoy. Taking a break is a part of remembering to take care of yourself. Make sure to also try to be socially-connected as it’s easy to feel lonely during these times.

Ask for help

Lastly and most importantly, do not be afraid to ask for help. Reaching out your hand when you’re struggling is frankly one of the only ways to survive college and in the world. Touch base with professors to see if you can get an extension, try asking your classmates if you don’t understand anything, etc. Don’t take all the burden on your shoulders. 

College student burnout - Tips to avoid it
Photo by Kate Trifo

Overall, this semester under the reins of COVID is inevitable. Let’s go in on a strong note, knowing ways to prevent burnout and tackle the semester head-on! Let’s prioritize ourselves in the new year with self-care and wellness. 

How have you coped during COVID to avoid college student burnout?
Let us know your self-care tips below!

Header: Tony Tran

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