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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Burnout: A college epidemic

A stressed woman sits in front of a laptop. As finals week approaches, it is important to avoid burnout. (Getty Images)

As the semester comes to a close, deadlines on projects and assignments are around the corner. With the vast amount of work due at the end of the semester, students are struggling with burnout in the final stretch.

The all too familiar feeling of being overwhelmed mentally, physically and emotionally to the point of exhaustion is known as burnout. The World Health Organization classifies burnout as an “occupational phenomenon.”

Burnout in college can come from high expectations, social isolation, sleep deprivation, pressures to fit in and the transitional period in one’s life, according to the American Institute of Stress.

Burnout symptoms can often be confused with stress. However, symptoms of burnout are long-term and can affect a person’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, while stress symptoms are typically more physical and short-term.

Burnout can stop many students from feeling successful and confident in their classwork and overall career goals. Hispanic and Black students are more likely to feel the burden of burnout accompanied by depression and anxiety due to the lack of a sense of belonging on college campuses. 

Leslie Albion, LCPC and NIU substance use coordinator, was able to provide tips on how to deal with burnout.


Identify the emotions being felt. This can be done by naming each emotion you are feeling or just acknowledging the emotion’s presence. Try not to avoid negative emotions, as they will continue to come back.


During this time it is important to have a support system. Try leaning on family, friends or even study groups. Find little ways to take off the pressure that is being felt. Prioritize taking a break and finding small moments of peace.


Check in with yourself emotionally, physically and mentally. Remember to make yourself a priority by checking off simple necessities. This can be as simple as scheduling time to eat and drink a glass of water. Also, it is important to get proper sleep to feel revitalized.


While it is difficult to find free time during finals, it is important to still dedicate time to hobbies and self-care. These small activities allow an allotted time to nourish creativity and take a small break from the classroom and responsibilities.


Providing small encouragement can help students power through. Students should give themselves grace and acceptance that everything will work out. Be your own cheerleader.

Most students will not have graduated without experiencing burnout at least once. Burnout is not an isolating or individual issue. Learning how to rest and reset your mind, body and soul is an essential tool to finish the semester on a good note. 

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