Student burnout is a state of mental, physical or emotional exhaustion which occurs when kids feel overwhelming stress and frustration. The best way to cope with student burnout is to ensure that the child gets enough rest and relaxation time.
In this article, we will discuss some of the causes and symptoms of student burnout, and look at ways to prevent and treat burnout in children in order to help them achieve academic success.
What is burnout?
WebMD describes burnout as “a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped. It’s a result of excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress.”
People who suffer from burnout struggle to be productive. Burnout can affect your personal, work, social and academic life. Studies have shown that long-term burnout can also impact your physical health.
Causes of student burnout
With the never-ending pressure being placed on children in a traditional schooling environment, student burnout has become a more common issue. Juggling schoolwork, extracurricular activities, exam preparations, homework, social commitments and everything else can be daunting for kids. A child who is overworked and does not enjoy enough free time can experience burnout.
Student burnout symptoms
Symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, demotivation, and a drop in productivity. Parents should keep an eye on their child’s mental, emotional, and physical reactions to learning.
Some common symptoms of burnout include.
- Exhaustion: A child with burnout may appear tired all the time, no matter how much sleep they get. A child may experience this in the form of physical, emotional, and/or mental exhaustion.
- Lack of motivation: Your child may show signs that they are lacking motivation in all aspects of their lives. They might not want to study, see friends or participate in social activities. All of these could be a sign of burnout. They suddenly may lose interest in things that previously brought them fulfilment, or they may find it difficult to wake up and start the day.
- Lack of creativity: A child who experiences burnout may have difficulty completing tasks that require original ideas or imagination. You may find your child procrastinating or feeling dissatisfied with the work they produce.
- Increased irritability: When a child feels frustrated about their inability to focus, it’s natural that they will feel irritable. This is generally because they feel disappointed in themselves or are critical of their own academic performance, resulting in annoyance or quickness to anger.
- Inability to focus: This is often referred to as ‘foggy brain’. No matter how much they try to concentrate they feel like they are unable to get their brain to work, and unable to complete their tasks.
- Loss of interest: This is a classic sign of burnout, especially when it affects things your kid previously loved and cared about. If they used to always look forward to their Friday afternoon karate class, but now you feel like you have to drag them there, this is likely burnout.
- Frequent illness: If your child becomes sick more often than usual, it could be their body trying to tell them that it feels burned out. Whether they continually catch colds; have stomach cramps or other digestive issues; or suddenly develop hives or rashes, each of these (and more) could mean their burnout is manifesting in physical symptoms. These symptoms can also be the signs of other physical illnesses, so you should pay close attention and seek medical care if necessary.
- Feelings of anxiety or depression: Anxiety or depression are both signs of burnout. If you notice that your child starts to develop anxiety around attending class or social events, you should consider ways to alleviate some of the stress in their lives. If the depression or anxiety seems to not be getting better, then it is recommended to seek medical help.
How to treat and prevent student burnout
The signs and symptoms of burnout can take many forms. The earlier you identify burnout, the quicker you can address it. Always remember that if it progresses it could become a serious mental health issue.
Some ways to treat and prevent student burnout include:
- Exercise is vitally important in education. Although it might seem contradictory, one of the best ways to battle fatigue is to work out. Exercise gives you more energy and helps children avoid the afternoon crash. Exercise can also help increase well-being and decrease psychological stress and emotional exhaustion.
- A better schedule and study timetable can help alleviate daily pressures and combat burnout. If your child is starting to display symptoms of burnout, consider putting as many activities on a temporary pause as possible. Give them some time to rest and relax. This will allow them the opportunity to assess their situation and identify ways to optimise their schedule to avoid unnecessary pressure.
- Setting goals and priorities can help your child ensure that they are working towards something meaningful instead of just being busy. If a current obligation doesn’t support the end goal and it isn’t adding value to their lives then disengaging from that activity may make it easier to avoid burnout.
- Spending time in nature is a great way to prevent burnout. Encourage your child to spend time outside, enjoying the fresh air and getting some much-needed time out from their busy schedule. This will help clear their head and help them feel refreshed and recharged.
- It is important for students to get enough sleep. An overly tired child will struggle to focus on school work and may find it difficult to manage their emotions. These feelings of stress and emotional overload can lead to burnout.
- Good nutrition is important to ensure good health. Eating well and feeling healthy can help prevent and combat stress which leads to burnout.
- A supportive environment is perhaps the most important tool to aid in preventing student burnout. Be supportive, empathetic and encourage open communication with your child.
- Seek professional help if you feel like your child’s burnout is prolonged or seriously affecting their mental health. A medical professional can help your child by creating a personalised treatment plan and coping techniques.
Avoiding and recovering from student burnout is all about balance. Just like adults strive for work-life balance, students need academic-life balance too. Online homeschooling offers children a more personalised and flexible approach to their education. This approach puts far less pressure on students (and parents) and allows the child more time to explore hobbies and other activities.
At CambriLearn, we encourage our learners to spend their free time being kids, getting outside, doing things they love and most importantly - having fun! This helps students feel less resentment towards studying and academic overload.