The average adult makes 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day, sometimes these decisions are easy to make, like deciding to snooze your alarm in exchange for an extra 5 minutes in bed. However, sometimes the decisions we make take longer to think about, have a larger impact and can stress us out a bit.
Navigating a degree apprenticeship can sometimes be difficult and challenging, because not only are you balancing your professional qualifications and your work to-do list, but you are also balancing your extracurricular activities, your hobbies, interests, family, friends, pets and most importantly, your wellbeing. By having so many different things constantly on our minds, we naturally become tired, and this ultimately can increase the likelihood of experiencing burnout.
But what does the term ‘burnout’ mean?
According to Mental Health UK, burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when we are spending a lot of time balancing all the spinning plates mentioned above, and when we must make decisions based on what seems to be our never-ending to do list.
Okay, how do I know if I am experiencing burnout?
There are different ways that people experience burnout, and it could be physical or mental symptoms. Some of the mental symptoms of burnout range from feeling tired, helpless, and alone, to feeling overwhelmed, procrastinating with your to-do list, and doubting yourself. There are also physical symptoms to burnout, with a few examples being reoccurring headaches, trouble sleeping and low immunity or getting sick often.
So, what can I do to prevent or deal with burnout?
At the beginning of this blog, I spoke about decisions, and although some are easy, some are hard to make. For some, making those hard decisions is what helps to prevent burnout. Instead of committing every free moment you have during the week to your long to-do list, try scheduling time to complete the tasks, whilst also scheduling breaks for yourself, to do something you enjoy, or you find relaxing – this will ensure you take those physical and mental breaks to avoid you feeling burnout. This may also mean, that you end up saying no to some opportunities or tasks on your to do list, which could trigger FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) but try to consider whether that opportunity or task will come again or if it can be completed later.
It may be helpful to prioritise your to-do list, and identify what tasks are high and low priority. This way you can determine the tasks that need your immediate attention first, and you can schedule the lower priority tasks later or decide that it may be necessary to completely remove some tasks from your to-do list.
Regardless, it is important to protect and look after your mental health and wellbeing so that you can complete all the tasks on the to-do list to the best of your abilities. This may mean saying no, scheduling tasks to manage time better, setting boundaries, practising self-care, or asking for support from your friends, family, or colleagues.