As many of you may already know from your previous experiences as undergraduate students, there are many moments throughout our academic journey where we may begin to feel burnout and exhaustion. This feeling is completely normal, especially during graduate school. Do not worry! I am here to help share some fun activities that have helped myself and other students prevent burnout.
Activity No. 1: TAKE BREAKS!
I know many of you have already heard this saying from peers, parents, faculty and now from me, but it is so important to take breaks! The phrase “take a break” can be applied in many different ways. Some examples include:
- Taking a 15-minute break after every lecture
- Taking a day off to give your brain a rest
- Taking the afternoon off after a long day of lectures and labs
- Take a break every 2 hours
The bullet points listed above are only a few examples of the many different ways one can take breaks. I know taking time off from school can make one feel guilty at times, but it is crucial. Taking a break from schoolwork has definitely helped me and other peers prevent burnout. I use this time to keep my mind off school, even if it is only for 15 minutes. On days that I felt that I needed more time to study, my breaks were smaller. I would take a break maybe every 3 hours. During my breaks I would watch a movie, call a friend or scroll through social media. On the other hand, on days that were very heavy on lectures and labs, I would come home and take the afternoon off. These are just some examples that have helped me that may help you, too. However, this may not work for everyone. I recommend that you take breaks as needed. Many of you will need more breaks a day or a week and some of you may not need as much, and that is okay.
Activity No. 2: Exercise
Implementing exercise into our schedule is a great way to help de-stress from schoolwork. If you are like me and do not enjoy going to the gym, but would rather sit on a couch and snack, do not worry, this activity can still apply to you! Whenever I felt overwhelmed with school, I would take my dog on a 30-minute walk around my block. Going for a walk would help me take my mind off school and spend some time with my dog. I really enjoyed this exercise because during those 30 minutes, I would forget about all the assignments that I had to complete, all the exams I had to study for, and I would just focus on me. After my walks/ runs with my dog, I felt more energized, focused, and motivated while doing my schoolwork. However, walking is not the only way one can de-stress. Listed below are different ways one can use exercise to relieve stress from school.
- Lifting weights
- Going to the gym
- Playing a sport
- Home workout videos via Youtube
Activity No. 3: Spending time with friends and family
This activity is by far my favorite! Throughout your academic journey as a graduate student, there will be moments where you may feel that you have no social life or cannot spend time with friends or family because you have to study. However, I am here to tell you that it is very possible to have a social life and excel in graduate school. It is so important to spend time with the people you care about. During my first year at SCCO, I would take one day off a week and spend time with my family and friends. Some of the activities I would plan would be going to Disneyland, a nice dinner, watching a movie, cooking dinner or going to the beach. Spending quality time with friends helped me prevent burnout because I would use this time to enjoy life. I would distract myself and focus on the things I enjoyed doing outside of schoolwork. Hanging out with family helped me recharge my spirit and give my brain a break. If spending a whole day with friends and family seems too much for you, you can always start by taking half a day off. This activity is very flexible, but highly recommended.
There are many other activities that can be done to help prevent burnout. One of the most important key factors to prevent burnout is spending time and energy on you. Whether that be exercise, hanging with friends or watching a movie, it is important to take time for yourself.
Do not feel guilty if you are not doing schoolwork every hour of the day. Enjoy life, enjoy school and have lots of fun!