How I have learned to cope with feelings of burnout

Through exploring ways of managing feelings of burnout, Emily has found that asking for help is an important step to realising you are not alone.

Written by Emily Lundy


A young person in today’s society can face many new opportunities and experiences. However, at the same time, especially coming toward exam times, they may experience high levels of stress, feelings of inadequacy and worry. 

As a student, I am far too familiar with the latter, and can sometimes succumb to my own expectations to achieve all of my goals, while also making time for my friends, family, and most notably, “me” time. 

Throughout secondary school, I often went through periods of high motivation, self-confidence and pride, which was followed sharply by slumps of exhaustion, falling behind on the assignments I thought that I had under control, and feeling lost. It was not until I reached college that I began to learn that these highly productive periods followed by exhaustion were common; and that it had a name, burnout.

Over the past couple of years, I have learned to cope with these feelings and have developed a number of key coping mechanisms which aim to tackle burnout and get me back on track.

Quality time

Before embarking on a mission to get all my tasks done, I find it is important to acknowledge my feelings of burnout, and to try and understand what has led me to this point. I try taking a walk or doing one of my favourite hobbies. Having good quality space away from my to do list helps me to calm down, and truly understand how I am feeling. Once I have come to terms with my feelings, I can think more clearly about how I want to proceed.


The feeling of being burnt out often comes during periods when a lot of tasks have to be done, and it can feel as though the ever-growing to-do list becomes a dark shadow over my mental health. I find that one of the most helpful things to do in this situation is to write a list of all the tasks that I have to accomplish. I then go through this list and categorise my tasks into ones that I must accomplish (schoolwork, assignments etc.), ones I would ideally like to get done, and ones that are not vital to accomplish in the near future. 

I find that by organising my tasks in this way, it turns the ever-growing monstrous to do list into a tangible and manageable list of goals. From here, I can begin to focus on the tasks which are necessary, and plan to come back to tasks that I can accomplish at a later date, when I have gotten back on my feet. After all, I think that my revolutionary idea to rearrange my messy wardrobe can wait another week.

Ask for help

Without a doubt, the most important advice that I could offer in relation to feeling burnout is to ask for guidance and talk to the people around you. Although at times you may not feel like it, there are people in your life who have gone through this experience before and sometimes they may be able to help you to get yourself back on track. 

It is so important that when you are feeling low that you talk to your friends. It is common that they have also experienced these feelings before, and you could plan to tackle your to-do lists together, whether that’s forming a study group or simply going with you to carry out your errands. Moral support during even the smallest tasks is invaluable. 

Likewise, I would always suggest that students chat with someone in their school or college that they trust. As an adult, they have undoubtedly been through these feelings before, and will be able to offer support and wisdom, and may be able to help you to organise your assignments so that you can find getting back on track more manageable.

You are not alone. Everybody deals with feelings of burnout and mental exhaustion at some point in their lives, and it is a completely normal feeling to experience. I hope that some of the above tips help you to understand that it’s okay to feel burnt out and realise the importance and benefit of asking for help to get back on track.

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