How to Help Prevent Academic Burnout

Posted: December 08, 2022 | Author: Kate Lyons | Read Time: 5 minutes

How to prevent academic burnoutCollege offers you the opportunity to grow and learn like never before. You’ll gain new perspectives, meet new friends, and have many new experiences. However, college can also make you feel extremely overwhelmed at times. If you feel like you are to the point of academic burnout, here are some practical ways to help you keep yourself balanced while studying at Southern Utah University.

What is Burnout?

Burnout looks different for everyone, but there are some common student burnout symptoms.

Know What Burnout Is

No one is immune to burnout. The World Health Organization defines burnout as a syndrome that results from chronic stress that has not been successfully managed. It’s not the same as the fatigue that can result from staying up all night or the occasional frustration you might feel with a specific assignment or upcoming test. Burnout results from months or years of pushing yourself past your limits.

Know What Academic Burnout Looks Like

A few common student burnout symptoms include exhaustion, having little to no motivation, not being as creative as you once used to be, being more irritable and having difficulty managing stress, having a difficult time focusing, getting sick more often with things like the cold or flu, frequent headaches or stomach aches, and having anxious or depressed feelings.

How to Prevent Academic Burnout

Know How to Say No

For some, saying no can be difficult. You may feel like you’re letting people down by saying no. But by setting a boundary for yourself, you’re giving yourself more time to do what you need, including the fun stuff!

You may be saying yes to a full-time schedule, a job, or an internship and saying yes to several social activities. Or you could push yourself too far on your studies, striving to get an A on each assignment, quiz, and test. While it’s great to get good grades, sometimes earning a B or a C on an assignment won’t lower your overall grade. By learning to say no to others or yourself, you’ll give yourself some freedom and balance.

Know How to Take Care of Your Physical Health

Having too demanding of a schedule can wipe you out quickly. If your body doesn’t have what it needs to function, it’ll only get you closer to feeling burnt out. A diet full of colorful foods will ensure you’re getting nutrients. Drinking plenty of water and getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night will make you feel your best. Since you’ll be more aware of your schedule and if it’s too full, you might be able to fit in some time to get outside or do a quick 15-minute workout, which can have a positive impact on your mental health as well.

Know How to Prioritize

Incorrectly setting your priorities and goals can make it seem like you’re not accomplishing anything when in reality, you’re doing a lot! Knowing your priorities is a great start. Do you want to graduate as soon as possible? Are you more family-focused or career-focused? Maybe life has taken a turn, and you need to reassess your next steps. Once you know your priorities, you can set your goals to fit appropriately. If your main concern is your family or friends, then make sure you have enough time to spend with them and take classes when possible.

Maybe you have a scholarship and have to take a certain number of classes and earn a specific GPA each semester. If that’s the case, school is your priority, and socializing will have to be slightly lower on the list. It’s also possible that your mental health is your top priority. If you find yourself in this position, it’s okay! Check out SUU Counseling and Psychological Services for some help, or check out the online mental health resources to get you started.

Know How to Have Fun and Relax

One of the best ways to help you feel better is to have fun! You'll start feeling better when you’ve set aside time for fun or to relax. Taking a day off or two from work during midterms or finals is okay. Have a paper due in a week, but you’ve been invited to a fun event? Go to the event, even if it’s for an hour. If you have a hobby, don’t ignore it in the name of academics. Be sure to include your hobby regularly in your life. Not only will it bring you some joy, but it’ll also help bring some perspective on life.

Know How to Ask for Help

This can also be a tricky one to master. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong or are incapable of great things. If something has come up, let your professor know and ask for an extension on a deadline if needed. Maybe the help you need is at home, from your family or your roommate. Let them know how you’re feeling and what they can do to support you. Maybe you can’t take on cooking dinner the night before a test, so let them know you’d appreciate it if they cooked dinner instead. If you need help with your mental health, SUU has many ways to support you. Either through CAPS, mental health resources, or a self-help tool kit, you’ll be able to find resources to help you.


Preventing burnout during college is a learned skill that takes some time, so don’t expect yourself to be a pro overnight. Take it step by step and day by day. Use the resources available to you, have some fun, and take time to discover your priorities. Realigning your efforts to create a more balanced life will help you prevent burnout in school, and help you feel better and perform better in all areas of your life.

Mental health is essential for a student's academic success. SUU provides resources, support, and services to address mental health issues, like academic burnout, at every level of concern. Learn more about SUU's student mental health resources.

Tags: Student Mental Health

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