Most students are now done with exams and ready to take a break. Guest writer Anna Clarke shares her advice on how to recover if you feel emotionally exhausted.
Exhaustion comes in multiple shapes and sizes. Traditional ‘rest and go to the gym more often’ recommendations may be more or less effective for physical exhaustion, but usually have little impact on the emotional and mental one. Unfortunately, most methods suggested by friends and online guides may have little impact on your inner state; in fact, they may even make it worse if you continuously fail to cope with stress and exhaustion. Here are ten practical recommendations that directly address emotional fatigue and burnout issues caused by exams:
1. Know Yourself
Giving a one-size-fits-all solution to the emotional exhaustion problem inevitably leads us back to the generic ‘sleep and exercise’ route. The problem is, however, that people react to stress differently.
If your body pumps up adrenaline levels to fight through difficult periods, you may need to engage in physical or emotional activities to work down the effects of this hyper-stimulation.
Alternatively, those with a melancholic or phlegmatic personality type may benefit from simple meditation or relaxation practices. It may be a good idea to write down three to five stress reduction techniques and experiment with them, to see which one provides better results in your case.
2. Cut Down on Stress Mismanagement
One of the most common problems of students is sometimes called stress mismanagement. If you recall eating when you are not hungry, or smoking a whole pack of cigarettes during the day of the exam, you know exactly what this means.
Besides being unhealthy, these stress management techniques have significantly lower effectiveness in comparison with exercise or relaxation. Unfortunately, they usually produce instant effects, while the latter option requires some training. You may not get rid of them completely, but reducing their use will instantly speed up your recovery rates.
3. Revise Your Locus of Control
In psychology, the locus of control defines the sphere of things you think you can control. The keyword here is ‘think’ – you cannot possibly alter unsuccessful exam results or change other things in your past, after all.
However, an internal locus of control may sometimes wear you down emotionally by making your brain revise prior failures over and over again, and blaming yourself for every negative outcome. Letting go of these thoughts is critical for productive recuperation. You are only a human being who did the best possible thing in any past situation. Think it over, learn your lessons, and move on.
4. Avoid Burnout at All Costs
Imagine feeling physically exhausted day after day and deciding to go to the gym to do some hardcore bench pressing. There is always a fine line between healthy eustress and dangerous stress levels; crossing it may cause long-term damage that will require months of treatment and recuperation.
The same is true for emotional exhaustion. If you feel that your bad mood, inability to concentrate or the feeling of tiredness are becoming chronic, rest at all costs. Go out to the country, take several days off, and do anything to keep your stress levels at check.
While the title may seem like something from William Gibson’s novels, we will not advise you to install bionic adrenal glands or get a better brain storage drive. The term ‘biohacking’ refers to the growing movement of those interested in the practical aspects of body functioning and the ways to improve one’s daily productivity.
Some online guides on biohacking advise specific supplements, physical exercises or mental routines that reduce your cortisol and noradrenaline levels after stressful periods. Look for the ones that refer to reliable medical studies and proven facts.
6. Sleeping Effectiveness
Traditional recommendations, such as going to bed at the same time or reducing caffeine consumption in the evening, do not always work. If you wake up tired and broken, chances are you already have more serious issues with melatonin production in your body.
Unfortunately, closing your curtains to reduce light levels, or using progressive muscle relaxation to fall asleep faster, may not be sufficient in cases of extreme emotional exhaustion. You may consider using melatonin and magnesium pills as a short-term aid (after appropriate consultation).
7. Prioritise Your Obligations
Cooking healthy meals or going to your friend’s birthday party is important. However, it is not as important as recuperating from serious stress if it already disrupts your sleep and well-being. If you feel you have more responsibilities in life than you can handle, it is time for you to cut down your to-do list.
Find a canteen with reasonable prices and eat there for one or two weeks; stack quality snacks, salads, cereals or fruits; skip several important events. The world will not go down in flames if you take several days off and focus exclusively on the fun parts of life.
8. Engage in New Things
Switching from negative thoughts about your exams towards productive activities may be difficult, but developing new interests may provide the necessary leverage. Some of these might include attending several language or dancing classes to socialise and learn some new skills.
As your brain absorbs unfamiliar experiences, it ‘forgets’ the stressful ones and expels them from short-term memory. Pre-planned activities may also serve as motivation to push through your exam week and immerse yourself in these new experiences and positive emotions.
Emotional stress frequently takes a more serious toll than the physical one. If you need some support, spend more time with family and friends. If you feel the need to contribute to the well-being of others, sign up for volunteering at a local hospital or animal shelter. Spending time with other people is a natural method of mending emotional wounds and accumulating power for new achievements.
10. Do Not Be Afraid to Seek Professional Help
If several weeks of good sleep, quality nutrition, and physical activities do not make you feel better, talk to a local GP. A short course of vitamin B12 injections (after consulting with a medical specialist) or therapy sessions can work wonders for reducing your stress levels and recuperating from emotional weariness.
All students experience study-related emotional exhaustion from time to time. This is a natural reaction, caused by excessive workloads that can and should be managed through implementing more effective behavioural strategies. Start with simple tools, such as melatonin level management and nutrition, since they usually require minimal motivation. You can focus on the more difficult steps later, when you have more energy.
Anna Clarke is the owner of the online essay writing service 15 Writers. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in freelancing and consulting, specialising in Business, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Management.
Roar does not take responsibility for any effects these tips may have. We do not encourage engaging in any activity or following any of the tips you do not find reasonable and beneficial. These recommendations come from a non-medical persona.