Combat College Burnout!

In high school, you somehow managed to wake up anywhere from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., sit for seven hours a day, and stay after school for extracurricular activities or sports. Plus, some of you also worked! College has brought the added freedom of customization so you may not need to attend six classes straight, but it is often less structured. You can stay up late, eat Cheetos for breakfast or even skip class (I don’t recommend this though). Trying to juggle all of this can be really difficult! Feeling overwhelmed is completely normal, but work to limit those feelings so you’ll avoid academic and personal burnout.

As a college junior with a full course load, three jobs, involvement in two student groups and a need for me-time, it’s really exhausting at times. I want to share a few ways I avoid becoming overwhelmed and burning out.

Switch it up

Taking time away from your stressors allows you to relax and invest time in your other interests. Sometimes you need to binge on Netflix or listen to the same album for two hours. Sometimes all you need is a good cry and a nap. These are just suggestions. Find what works for you!

  • Listen to Music
  • Watch Netflix
  • Invest in a hobby  (old or new, maybe knitting)
  • Spend time with friends
  • Exercise (Lift, Swim, Walk, just get your body moving)
  • Cry
  • Take a nap

Take a brain break

Our brains are constantly working. Giving your brain space to focus on itself combats overthinking and anxiety. Implement one or two mindfulness exercises during your daily routine. I personally do this each morning and night. Practicing mindfulness can help you relax gradually while creating a habit. Once the habit it formed, you will have a better balance of responsibilities. Try a few of these mindful actions. 

  • Practice meditation
  • Take a few deep breaths
  • Rethink and possibly change your state of mind
  • Remember that this will pass: You are on the right track.
  • Come to terms with the unavoidable
  • Unplug from your devices  

Stick to a plan

Scheduling your tasks and responsibilities not only makes life easier but also more manageable. Planning ahead keeps you looking to the future and always prepared for your next task. Sometimes lists and Google reminders can be a lot so take 10 seconds to just breathe. Pick one of your tasks, preferably an easy one, and focus on it until completion. It helps get the ball rolling and provides an instant sense of accomplishment.

  • Organize!
    • Make lists
    • Google Calendar is your friend!
  • Take things one task at a time
  • Plan ahead

We all have had to pull an all-nighter or skip a meal to finish a project, but making it a continuous habit will only lead to a constant state of overwhelming thoughts ending with burnout. It’s important to be driven and work hard, but if it’s at the expense of your physical and mental health, then it’s neither sustainable nor healthy. Cut yourself some slack. Get into the mindset that you do NOT have to be productive every second of the day. Take time for yourself; otherwise, you’ll be sacrificing the quality of your work and your overall well-being.

Here are some additional tips I have for general wellness in college:

  • Don’t spread yourself too thin | Learn to say no
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat something in the morning
  • Take time for yourself
  • Stay organized

Pearson Students –  Which of these tips do you find most helpful? Please let me know by commenting below!



Schuyler McKinley, a junior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, studies strategic communications with an emphasis on public relations. When she’s not in class, you can find her exploring the cities, attending concerts and complimenting people’s dogs. Schuyler’s a pro at walking backwards while telling dad jokes as her time as a tour guide with Admissions Ambassadors has taught her well. She works as a content creator for CLAgency, a student-run communications agency for the College of Liberal Arts. Likewise, she’s the social media intern for Orientation & Transition Experiences for the U and a Pearson Campus Ambassador.

Schuyler is a Pearson Student Insider. To learn more about the program and apply, click here.


  1. Amethyst O'Connell 2 years ago

    It’s hard to be mindful to be productive. To self-care with the explicit weight of productivity over your shoulder. How do you get out of that cycle?

    • Doralicia 2 years ago

      You’re right, it is hard to get out of that cycle of wanting to take care of yourself while at the same time feeling the pressure of having to be productive and getting things done, but the important thing is that it IS possible. Like Schuyler wrote, it’s important to take a brain break, which your brain deserves and will help you think clearer, and change the way you view how you spend your time – it is 100% valid to take some time off and take care of yourself, you’re human and deserve time to self-care. It’s important that you keep reminding yourself this and consider that actually self-caring and giving your brain the break it needs (and deserves) will actually help you have feel better and have more energy when you do have to do productive work.

      Also establishing some work/productivity and free times during your day and not allowing yourself to work during the free times (during your free time, your only focus should be taking care of yourself and doing the things you enjoy – no work allowed), can go a long way. Hope this helps and you feel great! 🙂

  2. R A 2 years ago

    Good article. Very simple and to the point.

  3. J.J 2 years ago

    I think all of things suggested here to avoid burnout can be very helpful! I must say that I’m surprised that crying is one of the suggested ways to calm down but at least it’s nice to know that a simple cry can be seen as a way to relax after dealing with stressors.

  4. Sam 2 years ago

    I definitely like your idea of switching things up and taking a brain break. I struggled to find my “me-time” in college. I would enjoy spending weekends in my dorm to catch up on TV shows and Skype with my family. Thank you for your tips!

  5. Angel Khalil 2 years ago

    very useful article

  6. Doralicia 2 years ago

    Well-written article and good specific tips! Like J.J. I also really liked that you mentioned crying as a good stress outlet – it’s not always mentioned as a way to combat college burnout-related stress, so it’s good to see mentioned the good that can actually come from crying. Making sure to take brain breaks and the mindful actions you mentioned were my personal favorite tips, but I appreciated all of them and reading your article!

  7. Kimberely 2 years ago

    It is useful to avoid a burn out.

  8. Stacey Marrazo 2 years ago

    I schedule myself a day off every week. It’s the only way I can handle it all

  9. Kelly Marie Smith 2 years ago

    Great tips!

Leave a reply to Kelly Marie Smith Click here to cancel the reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *