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  • Writer's pictureSMS USYD

Bye Bye Burnout

Updated: May 24, 2022

It’s submission season, and soon after it’ll be finals! With the dreariness of winter coupled with the stress of the season creeping its way into our lives, it is important that we make time amidst our busy schedules to take care of ourselves.

Written by Olivia Monteiro and Catherine Shih

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion, caused by excessive and prolonged stress (Kelly, 2021). A Forbes survey conducted in 2021 revealed that 53% millennials and 58% Gen Z are currently experiencing burnout.

Signs of Burnout

So, are you on the road to burnout?

Physical symptoms of burnout include being constantly tired and drained, and having appetite and sleeping habit changes. Emotionally, you feel a sense of failure and doubt, and experience motivation loss. Feeling detached, helpless and having an increasingly negative outlook on life are also common symptoms. Withdrawing from responsibilities, isolating from friends and procrastinating are all typical burnout behaviour as well (HelpGuide, 2018).

If you or someone you know is struggling with burnout, or if you’d like to take preventative measures (because that’s always the smart thing to do), here are a couple of tips and tricks we’ve got that might help!

Remember to Eat!

When swamped with studying, food often becomes secondary. On a normal basis, the brain processes information up to 430km/h and can think up to 60 000 thoughts per day - imagine how much more when studying! It is critical to load up your brain with ample and suitable fuel to power it to its full capacity.

Proteins (amino acids) are the building blocks of our body and brain, so it’s important not to skip out on these. In particular, salmon, eggs and red meat have the amino acid tyrosine, which triggers hormones that promote brain alertness. Other good protein sources include avocados, beans and raw nuts and seeds. Vitamin C found in citrus foods and green vegetables also aid in reducing oxidative stress in the brain and stabilising energy levels.

Lastly, to avoid your energy crashing, minimise sugar and refined carbs. Switch out that third cup of coffee for some water and go for a walk instead to refresh!

Take Breaks

Do not underestimate the power of breaks! At times, we shy away from breaks out of guilt, or the idea that taking breaks are unproductive, a waste of time. However, we fail to realise that sometimes a break does more good than harm. As the saying goes, “Focus on being productive instead of busy”. Keeping your day packed with back to back activities only wears you out quickly, but taking a 30 minute break to watch the sky, grab a snack, or even do nothing, could help your body rejuvenate and power on stronger for the next couple of hours.

A break can be many things, some things we at SMS like to do during our breaks include:

  • Reading

  • Watching that TV show that everyone’s been talking about

  • Cloud watching

  • Jamming to your favourite album

  • Talking a walk

  • Hitting the gym

  • Taking a power nap

… and much more!

Have Proper Organisation

During this time, we are often overwhelmed with work and tight deadlines until we lack motivation to do anything at all. Having a good studying schedule is a good way to avoid additional stress.

When writing down tasks, have realistic goals by breaking large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. For example, ratherthan listing ‘complete marketing essay’, note down a specific research section in the essay to be done instead! The task will feel less insurmountable and you will find it easier to do. A proven study method is the Pomodoro Technique where you split work into 25 minute sections followed by 5 minute breaks, a pomodoro. After 5 pomodoros, take a 15-30 minute break! This allows you to pace yourself and decreases distractions.

Talk to Someone

When you’re burned out, everything feels overwhelming, days feel long, and problems seem insurmountable - it's a lot to take on yourself. Confiding in someone could act as a good release of bottled up emotions, giving you the space to process your stresses, thoughts and feelings. This could be someone you trust and are wholly comfortable with, such as friends or family. It could also be someone you know who is relatable and understands what you are going through. Alternatively, you could reach out to a professional who is trained to help you manage your stresses and worries. There are several options available for your consideration. Here are a few contacts the university provides:

USYD’s after hours mental wellbeing support line:

Call 1300 474 065 (accessible within Australia)

Text 0488 884 429 (for sms chat option)

Student counselling service:

Phone: +61 2 8627 8433/+61 2 8627 8437

Mobile: +61 488 884 429 (For SMS chat)


Key Takeaways

Burnout is a very real issue that should not be overlooked. We hope that these tips helped with recognising burnout and how to manage it. Exam seasons are always a stressful time but make sure to not overexert yourself and to reach out to the people around you.

SMS wishes you all the best for your exams :)


ReachOut. (2021, October 15). New research shows spike in mental health impacts of study stress on Aussie students in 2021. About ReachOut Australia.

Kelly, J. (2021, April 5). Indeed Study Shows That Worker Burnout Is At Frighteningly High Levels: Here Is What You Need To Do Now. Forbes.

Seidenberg, C. (2017, May 22). In exam season, a look at the best brain-boosting foods. Washington Post.

HelpGuide. (2018, December 27). Burnout Prevention and Treatment.


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