How to deal with university when you’re burnt out

by | Apr 28, 2021 | Campus News, Tips, Uncategorized

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash


University can get pretty overwhelming sometimes. You’ll find that your typical university student is trying to balance full or part time university, working, taking care of physical and mental health whilst maintaining a social and family life. Most of all – life happens and gets the best of us sometimes.  So, it is natural to feel a little burnt out sometimes, especially in the midst of being loaded with assignments and exams. Here are some practical ways you can curb the often-overwhelming feeling of burnout.


What exactly is burnout you may ask? According to HelpGuide, burnout is a “constant state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you are overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to meet constant demands.”.


So, what can we do?

Get your health in check

First thing we want to do is assess our physical and mental health. Are we eating regular meals? Are we taking regular breaks and scheduling time for things we enjoy? Have you been exercising? (even if it is one round of Just Dance)? Your health is a priority, and just as important to maintain and check your physical health, apply the same standard to your mental health.

WSU has plenty of support services to help you succeed and they can point you in the right direction when things get tough. These include free and confidential counselling services, disability support, student welfare support

Note: You can get special consideration if you have had a major life event or illness that is affecting your studies, provided you have supporting documents.

Email your tutors

Keep your tutors in the loop and contact them – they are likely to experience burnout too. Send them a quick email (you don’t have to go into detail if you don’t want to) and ask for some help catching up and keeping up. They are usually pretty understanding.


Break it down, compartmentalise and take it one step at a time

Sometimes you just have too many tasks to complete in a short period of time, and you have no idea where to start. Add all of your tasks into one big list (intimidating I know) and break those tasks down into smaller pieces.  You can categorise your tasks by priority, and putting the most important tasks at the top, or highlighting them in a different colour.

When beginning any task on the list, it may again, look big and hard to achieve. You probably won’t get started because it will feel like too big of a task. We want to break it down so that it becomes easier to achieve.

Example: Completing a 1500-word essay


  1. Intro (150 words)
  2. Paragraph (400 words)
  3. Paragraph (400 words)
  4. Paragraph (400 words)
  5. Conclusion (150 words)

Follow this method for all of your units and then assign them to a day. You can also assign your other task to these days too. For example:


  • Complete intro for Unit 1 essay
  • Tutorial 1 prep work


  • Complete paragraph for Unit 1 essay
  • Attend tutorial 1
  • Tutorial 2 prep work


  • Complete paragraph for Unit 1 essay
  • Attend tutorial 2
  • Tutorial 3 prep work


  • Complete paragraph for Unit 1 essay
  • Tutorial 3
  • Tutorial 4 prep work


  • Complete conclusion for Unit 1 essay
  • Edit Unit 1 essay and finalise to submit by (X) date
  • Tutorial 4

And continue with each subject to slowly space out your work so that it feels less overwhelming.


Do things out of ‘order’

You don’t have to attack the first thing on your list right away. Just start with the task that interest you the most. You’ll find that the hardest part is getting started, and just taking that simple but difficult step to get off TikTok and get onto your tasks. That simple gesture of opining up your laptop puts you in the mindset to work, and oftentimes, you find that you can keep going.

You’ll find that when you write the introduction, the feeling of achievement will make you keep going and it ends up creating a domino effect of productivity.  But if you can’t keep going, you’ll at least know that you checked off your to-do list. Sometimes, I even just makea blank word document with the title of my task just to get myself started!


Think of it like having multiple tabs open in your browser. Switch between your units when the whimsey takes you. Doing a little bit of work is better than doing no work at all.


Schedule time for a break


When experiencing burnout, your body is obviously telling you that you need a break. I know breaks can be hard to fit into a university schedule, but make sure you section out time where you aren’t going to think about uni at all. For example, put your phone on silent and let yourself have an hour of your favourite video game. Or you could meet up with your friend for a coffee or wholesome tea break,  Just make sure you have some time to yourself to do things you want to do.


Go easy on yourself

I know this is easier said than done, but uni can be hard! You’ve being working hard this semester with a very uncertain world ahead of you. Keep pushing!

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