Tips on Preventing Postgraduate Burnout
Next week, I will be running a workshop to give tips on preventing postgraduate burnout, for students at the University of Bath, on behalf of Bath Mind. Here are some of the tips I sourced on understanding, preventing and breaking the cycle of burnout – they are applicable to postgraduates, undergraduates, employees, business owners, managers… and anyone for whom a passion can tempt us to give too much without replenishing our batteries.
You’re welcome to download a copy of my handout of tips on preventing postgraduate burnout for your personal use, here: Bath Mind_ Tips on Postgraduate Burnout 18jul18 ATresilian
What Is Burnout?
● “A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.” – Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson
● “A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.” – Herbert J. Freudenberger
‘Anyone can become exhausted. What is so poignant about burnout is that it mainly strikes people who are highly committed to their work: you can only “burn out” if you have been “alight” in the first place.’
Symptoms of burnout may include:
● Having a negative and critical attitude to your studies.
● Dreading approaching or getting going with your work.
● Having low energy, and little interest in your studies.
● Having trouble sleeping.
● Being absent from lectures or social activities a lot.
● Having feelings of emptiness.
● Experiencing physical complaints such as headaches, illness, or backache.
● Being irritated easily by others.
● Having thoughts that your work doesn’t have meaning or make a difference.
● Pulling away emotionally from your colleagues or loved ones.
● Feeling that your work and contribution goes unrecognized.
● Blaming others for your mistakes.
● Thinking of quitting your studies.
The Difference Between Stress and Burnout
(ref: Dawkins Brown, 2015)
· It is characterized by over engagement
· The person’s emotions are over reactive
· It gives one a feeling of urgency and hyperactivity
· It leads to loss of energy
· It can lead to anxiety disorders
· Its primary damage is physical
· It is characterized by disengagement
· The person’s emotions are blunted
· It gives one a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness
· It makes one lose motivation, ideals & hope
· It can lead to detachment and depression
· Its primary damage is emotional
5 Myths That Lead to Postgraduate Burnout Cycle
(ref: Dora Farkis PhD, 2017)
Myth 1: More Hours at Work Leads to More Progress
Myth 2: My work needs to be perfect
Myth 3: I am great at multitasking
Myth 4: I need to abuse my body to get work done
Myth 5: My thesis has to be groundbreaking
5 Tips to Prevent a Postgraduate Burnout Cycle
(ref: Dora Farkis PhD, 2017)
Tip 1: Structure your day so that it includes frequent breaks away from your work
Tip 2: Give yourself permission to make mistakes
Tip 3 Set up your daily structure so that you minimize the necessity to multitask
Tip 4: Nurture your mind and body unconditionally
Tip 5: Reach out for support to help you keep your thesis on track
Questions to Guard Against Future Burnout
(ref: Erin Rider, 2017)
● How do I know when I am burned out?/ What are the effects of burnout on me?
● What are some boundaries that would help me to not become burned out?
● How do I balance personal, family, calling, occupational and other responsibilities?
● Can I differentiate between ‘Good, Better, Best’ priorities?
● How do I take care of myself?
● What do I do for enjoyment?
● How have I dealt with stress or burnout in the past?
● What could I do to cope better in the future?