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Combating Burnout During Graduate School

Combating Burnout During Graduate School

By: Ravina Nakum

Being accepted into graduate school can bring on feelings of excitement! But graduate school is challenging, requires serious commitment, and comes with a heavy price tag. The application process is made to be competitive because of the mental stamina it requires.

Oftentimes, graduate school is physically away from your normal support systems. There is little time in the day to cook a meal, let alone call a family member for emotional support. Some friends may not even understand this additional stress you now have. You may feel as though you are working like a machine with no one to turn to. Over time, the demands of graduate school can lead to burnout and decreased productivity, causing you to lose sight of why you started the program in the first place.

I speak from experience, as being away from home and experiencing burnout led me to a breakdown. I have always been private about my emotions, but burnout was a new territory, and can show both physically and mentally. Burnout tends to be the worst during the first semester, as you try to juggle between having a social life and going to school. There is no real trick or formula to avoiding burnout so it is important to remain mindful about it.

Mindfulness is the idea of being aware of the situation and practicing techniques to approach that state of being. In occupational therapy, we commonly use this in client interventions. It is important to be mindful about everything going on so the workload itself does not burn you out! Below are six ways to help you avoid a burnout!

Six Ways to Ease Burnout

  1. Restorative Yoga

    Passive stretching to calm the body, just YouTube it!

  2. Diaphragmatic Breathing

    Stimulating the diaphragm during breathing by expanding the belly rather than the chest. This breathing will help slow down your heartbeat.

  3. Invest in a Planner

    Organize and plan coursework and breaks of relaxation to remain accountable!

  4. Exercise

    The endorphins released during exercise can calm the mind.

  5. Enjoy Your Weekends

    Sure it is a time to catch up on coursework, but focus it around meaningful activities.

  6. Download the Pacifica App

    This app will keep you accountable of your mood and health! Use this app to help manage your mental health. The best part? It is totally free to sign-up!

Remember that burnout is normal and happens quite often! Every student goes through this. Being mindful keeps sight of why you are there in the first place and helps you through hard situations in life, like graduate school.


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