Kathy Bradley, Executive Director of Health and Counseling, provides advice and resources on how to deal with the mental, physical, and emotional impact of burnout.
As we move through the month of April, we think it is important to reflect on how far we’ve come since classes began on February 1 and to acknowledge our successes and how difficult it has been this semester. The pandemic and all of the changes we’ve had to make in our lives here at Gettysburg have been challenging for many members of our community. COVID has required us all to mask, distance, and remain more apart than we are accustomed to and made connecting with one another all the more difficult. Many of you are feeling stressed about balancing life during the pandemic and working through challenges such as attending classes, meetings, and other commitments online.
A number of students have recently used “burnout” to describe what they are experiencing. We probably all know what burnout feels like, to some degree. Burnout is mental, physical, and emotional, and they all overlap.
- Mental symptoms: apathy, disengagement, making careless mistakes, forgetfulness, lack of motivation.
- Physical: feeling tired despite rest, aches and pains, illness, stress eating.
- Emotional: easily overwhelmed, anxious, lacking compassion, easily frustrated or angered.
I’d say lighten up on your workload if you could, but most of us cannot—especially right now, when we’re in the final push towards the end of the semester. So what CAN you do?
Take control where you can.
- Take microbreaks: Five minutes to watch funny clips on YouTube or your site of choice.
- Schedule time for yourself. Yes, no matter how busy, you can find 30 minutes/day: linger a little longer in a hot shower or eat outside in the sunshine, phone down.
- Go Offline: Take a break from your phone and technology but let others know so they don’t worry!
- Learn more about how to address Zoom Fatigue.
Do good things for your body.
- Give yourself a massage. Focus on your scalp or hands or feet.
- Try out progressive relaxation.
- [Start to] eat well. Swap out cookies for carrots; eat protein instead of carbs.
- Spend time in the sunshine!
- Stttrrrreeeeettttttcccccccchhhhhhhh: Stretch!
Appreciate something or someone good, every day.
- Spend 5 minutes thinking about something NICE as a break to stressing.
- Send a note to someone to tell them you’re thinking of them.
- Think about a time you really enjoyed yourself! Look at pics from happy times.
Work on acceptance of yourself.
- Must you REALLY beat yourself up for having emotions? I think not. We all have them, and they are neither good nor bad—they just are.
- Love your body and thank it for getting you through the day (instead of getting angry at it for what it’s not).
- Connect with others.
- Limit complaining time to a few minutes. Then find a way to laugh together.
- Say NO!
- You do NOT have to do everything. Yes—really! People will love you anyway.
- It’s okay to put yourself first. Just balance it with care for others, too.
Remind yourself . . .
- That you have gotten through tough times before and you will this time, too.
- That a lot of people care about you. Make a list—really!
- That Covid restrictions will pass, eventually.
- That there are how many days left until the end of the semester?
- SENIORS: It’s okay not to have a life plan. Just do what comes next—whatever that may be.
There are people and resources on campus who can help you as well:
- Counseling Services. You can find helpful information on our website including COVID-specific information. You can call 717-337-6960 to make an appointment or consult with one of the staff.
- Pip’s PEEPS. If you’d prefer to speak with another student, you can contact one of our PEEPs, students trained by Counseling Services to assist other students with managing stress, time management, coping, and many other topics. Please call 717-337-6960 to connect.
- Breathe Program. Breath is coordinated by the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and is focused on using mindfulness skills to handle the challenges we face each day. Chaplain Elizabeth Eckman, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, is always available for anyone to talk. You don't have to be religious to discuss life and to have someone who's there to listen.
- Campus Recreation. Working to promote Well-being for life! Please be sure to check out the intramural and fitness class offerings provided by Campus Recreation.
- Academic Advising and Support Services. Partnering with faculty advisors and other offices, Academic Advising and Support Services provides a variety of services to help students connect, engage, and achieve their goals.
I hope this information is helpful, and best wishes in the coming weeks.
Kathy Bradley, Ph.D., Executive Director of Health and Counseling