At a Glance: Burnout occurs when stress starts to spiral out of control and turns into feeling hopeless. Try focusing on the big picture, asking for help and reducing distractions to keep stress in-check.
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Burnout is stress gone wild, when people go from feeling under pressure to feeling hopeless. They can become mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted, mixed with nagging doubts about their worth and abilities.

How can you prevent burnout? Here are five ways to shed the stress:


Stay focused on the big picture

Think about what motivated you to go back to school in the first place. Whether it’s earning the degree you always wanted or pursuing career opportunities, it’s important to remember that long-term reward. Keeping your goal at the forefront will help you focus on the task at hand, be it a paper or project.

Make a to-do list with deadlines

Staying organized helps you feel more in control of your life. Make a to-do list and be as specific as possible. Break projects or material to study into manageable chunks and detailed tasks, such as memorize vocabulary or write a paper’s introduction. Setting deadlines and being specific will give you small wins that boost your confidence while preventing procrastination.

People need people

It’s never a bad idea to ask for help from family, friends, fellow students, co-workers or even an employee assistance program at work. Asking for support, unburdening your feelings of stress or finding partners for collaboration might remove that sense that you’re going it alone. If you feel overwhelmed with school and work, connect with your boss. Supervisors might be able to shift a work deadline away from a big test, or let you work a short-term flexible schedule. Many employers support your educational goals and want to help you succeed.

Reduce distractions

Our attention spans shrink by the minute, thanks to technology and social media. Stay on task by logging out of Facebook, turning off the television and leaving your smart phone in the other room. That way you will be productive and tick items off your agenda, keeping burnout at bay.

Give me a break

It does a world of good for your mental and physical health to take regular breaks. It’s not selfish. Whether you do 10 minutes of stretching, meet a friend for lunch or engage in a favorite hobby, it’s important to reserve time for yourself. You will feel refreshed and ready to accomplish life as a better partner, parent, employee and student.


There’s no question that as a student you get stressed out — and that’s totally normal. The key is preventing that stress from spiraling into burnout. Take some time to step back, be honest with yourself and make some changes that can keep you balanced and focused as you pursue your dreams.

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