5 Tips to Avoid Burnout Approaching and During Exam Season

 Not many people look forward to exam season. It can be a very stressful time with so many things on your mind – have I done enough revision? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I taking good care of my body and mind? Plus, you’ve got the added stress of the actual upcoming exams, which can cause a great deal of anxiety. All this can lead to something called “burnout.” 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion – it’s caused by a prolonged period where you feel stressed and overwhelmed. It can affect anybody, from students in international schools in Shanghai to office workers, service workers, parents – anybody. When you’re “burned out,” you’re less able to function as well as you usually do and will find it hard to maintain a good focus on your revision and taking your exams. Being burned out can create a never-ending cycle of stress and anxiety, so it’s best to avoid triggering burnout at all – but how?

#1 Focus on one thing at a time

These days, many people frequently multitask throughout the day – watching TV while scrolling through social media, eating lunch while reading a book, revising while listening to a podcast. In fact, the human brain is not very equipped for multitasking. It’s impossible for us to concentrate on two activities requiring a lot of brainpower at once. Test it out – try listening to a podcast and reading a book at the same time. You’ll find it impossible to focus on both at once properly. So, when you’re revising, it’s not recommended to do anything else – turn off the TV, put your phone on airplane mode, and don’t bother with music unless it’s soft, ambient music without lyrics.

#2 Make a to-do list

When you’ve got so many worries running through your mind – exam dates, what revision you need to do, etc.- it can create a lot of anxiety, leading to burnout. Putting the things you need to do down on paper means you don’t have to keep thinking about what you need to do next but can instead dedicate all your brainpower to whatever it is you need to do now.

#3 Give yourself some “me” time

You already know how important revision is, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t allocate some time for you to relax and recharge. Everybody needs a rest once in a while. Make sure to have some downtime in the evening before you go to bed where you read a book for pleasure (not a textbook), spend time with family, or do a hobby of yours. You should also be taking short but frequent breaks when you revise. Look into something called the Pomodoro Technique if you’re unsure how to devise your revision time.

#4 Get good sleep

This one is so important. During exam season, always go to bed and wake up at the same time – this “sets” your body clock, meaning that your body gets used to these sleep and wakefulness hours and is less likely to feel fatigued during the day. The night before an exam, you should try to get the best night’s sleep you can. Having an exam the next day can make you feel nervous, meaning it’s harder to fall asleep – for this reason, you may want to go to bed 20 minutes earlier than usual.

#5 Meditate

Meditation is the act of clearing your mind of thoughts by focusing on your breathing. It can be incredibly refreshing for your brain. If you’re a meditation beginner, try to meditate for short periods at first and gradually increase it to longer periods to get even better results. Take 10 minutes to meditate now with this guided meditation video. Meditation can also ease the effects of insomnia. If you’re struggling to get to sleep the night before an exam, you can use meditation to reduce your anxiety and eventually drift off.

You can do it

Using these tips will go a long way to preventing burnout, but there may still be times where you feel stressed during exam season. Remember, we’re all rooting for you and want to help you as much as we can – you can always talk to your teachers or arrange a counseling session to get some support if you’re feeling burned out.