I am so proud of you for continuing your education! It doesn’t matter if you’re going to a local college or an away school, it doesn't matter if you’re 45 years old or 17 years old: College can be overwhelming!
So, you’re in college, trying your hardest and feeling burnt out! I know that feeling all too well.
Let’s start with a little background. When I first went to college I was 17, and I just moved out of my parents house into an apartment with two strangers. I didn’t have a car or any way of getting around other than the bus that took me from my apartment to school. I watched wayyyy too much of the TV show Crime Scene Investigation, and my “new apartment” ended up giving me mold poisoning. Life was grand!
Oh also, in my first semester in my first every college class I got all grades. By that I mean, I got everything from an “F” to eventually an “A” on projects and tests.
Boy was I burnt out and it was only the beginning of college. Now what!! Looking back and thinking how I got through that funk of the first year, I took some real steps without realizing it. Those steps I completely tribute to my college experience ending the way it did. By the end of college I love it! I had a community of close friends, and I was financially free.
Here are the steps I took. They really helped me, and I believe if you stick to them, they can help you too! This post contains affiliate links to some of the resources that I used in college, and that I use today. I’ve linked them because they really have helped me either save time or remember! If you do purchase them I would get a small amount, at no cost to you. Personally my favorite is the notebook at the end because it’s made a huge impact on my day to day!
FIRST STEP: REALITY
Let’s start with an exhale, and a reality check: If you’re feeling burnt out admit that to yourself!
Don’t try to hide the fact that you’re feeling overwhelmed from everyone around you, including yourself, because it’s not healthy. It isn’t helping you move into an actionable state of mind if all of your focus is on convincing yourself that you’re “fine”.
Have a real moment with yourself and allow yourself to take in the fact that you’re feeling burnt right now.
That’s the key word though at the end, did you catch it? Right now! Right now you’re feeling burnt but it’s temporary. You don’t have to feel burnt out and overwhelmed. You aren’t in control of the fact that you’re feeling burnt, but you are the one in control of if you allow yourself to stay in this mindset.
That’s what it is too, it’s a mindset of feeling overwhelmed. You are strong and wonderfully made, you are not an accident and you can choose a different outcome!!
Why is this step important?: Because if you don’t take a moment to feel how you’re feeling, how are you meant to work through that. If you continue to super woman through, and not allow yourself to think through your feelings, you’re not helping yourself grow!
STEP TWO: GET IT OUT
Write down all of the reasons that you’re feeling overwhelmed. For me, my list looked like this:
I Don’t feel prepared, I don’t have a way to get around, I don’t have my friends with me at school anymore, I don’t have an income, how am I paying for school?, I need to get out of this apartment, I need to eat something other than pasta, CSI is depressing.
All of those were so real to me! It’s important to write down all that you have to do or all that is frustrating to be able to work through it. If you don’t articulate what’s making you feel burnt out, you can’t make steps towards feeling less burnt!
Also journaling is a sub-step that is important. I find that when I journal regularly I find out my emotions that I didn’t realize I was feeling. I find out the secrets that were hiding in the back of my mind that I wasn’t realizing were the cause of my anxiety, or my stress.
STEP THREE: HAVE FOOD IN THE HOUSE.
This sounds like such an odd step, because how does this make you feel less burnt out? Have you ever been really hungry. That horrible state where you can’t think properly because you’re so hungry, and because you’re so hungry everything else seems worse? I have! Take care of a physical need of yours! It will help you be able to correctly think through what you can and can’t control in your situation. Eat a good breakfast or a good lunch and then start to think about the next step.
Why is this step important?: Because a healthy you is a clearly thinking you. Because it’s important to take care of your health when you have it. Take precautionary steps to eat healthy now and create those habits for later when you’re working 10-12hr days and don’t feel like eating healthy. You’ll be much more inclined to not go through the drive through if you know you have healthy ingredients at home that you can use for dinner.
STEP FOUR: ONE THING YOU CAN DO NOW
One small step for college student…I’m only kidding, but think about it. What’s one step that you can do that will start to make you feel less burnt.
Can you join a study group for a class that you’re feeling overwhelmed in? This will help you get some perspective from others and will give you a little socialization.
Can you look for a cheap and safe car on craigslist or another used website that will give you more freedom? Can you start to look into scholarships that can help pay for school?
Can you go outside and study? See the sunlight. It really will help your mood without you realizing.
Accomplish one thing you’ve had on your “to do list” for a while. You’ll feel so much better!
Further Reading: HOW TO HAVE A MORE PRODUCTIVE HOUR
STEP FIVE: GET AROUND PEOPLE
THIS STEP WILL MAKE A HUGE IMPACT!
However, this is the step that will also cost you the most. This is the step that costs your your pride, and your fear, but in return gives you companionship and joy. You are not made to be an island! In fact, when you act like you are, and don’t associate yourself with friends or loved ones regularly it effects your mental health.
Let’s keep using me as the example of the “don’t do this!” I’m sitting in my apartment, watching the depressing CSI hours on end for the entire first year of college, not making any effort to be around people.
Let’s also take first year me and compare her with second year me. Second year me did the awkward thing and showed up to an on campus group. I knew no one at the time, but I showed up! Which for me was huge at the time! I sat in the back and didn't say much, but after I went out and signed up for a weekly group.
That one step made all the difference! I ended up in that group, finding people that are still some of my closest friends today! It also took me a few times and a few groups before I “clicked”, so if you don’t make life long friends from the first group you join, it’s ok! Keep trying, you’ll find them! There is no way in college that you’re the only one looking for a group to be around!
STEP SIX: YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE
When you’re in a season of new, you’re not the only one in that season, especially at college! In fact when you’re a freshman, you literally have an entire new class of freshmen looking around like you are with maps. None of you know how to get to class easily, and you’re all not sure if you like the campus food.
There is a lie that is put into your mind when you feel alone. That lie is not true! You have many comrades around you also walking the longest way possible to class because they aren’t sure where to go. Don’t believe the lies
There are moments in college that it can feel overwhelming, but it’s so worth it! There are experiences in college the you would never have the opportunity to experience if you were not right where you are. There is a purpose to this! Keep the people around you that encourage you to be better! You can do this!
STEP SEVEN: GIVE YOURSELF RESOURCES
I wrote a whole other post about resources pertaining to life, but the same applies to college. Don’t let the college book store fool you. You can find that book elsewhere! You don’t have to spend the $200 on the book, share with a friend and that also gives you a reason to hang out at the beginning of the friendship. One of the biggest resources I found after college that I wish I had in college was this type of notebook! I love that notebook, because it’s the small simple act of being able to move the pages around that doesn’t cause me to have to think about where I’m writing.
Remember growing up and having those notebooks that put the dividers in it for you? I always hated those because I would have one section where it was all full, and another where I had written on two pages. Now I have the freedom to do what I want with the notebook the world is my oyster and I’m in!