Avoiding Burnout at the End of the Year

We’re almost to the finish line of 2022! This time of year is rife with the possibilities of BURNOUT. Are you starting to feel the creeping feelings of exhaustion, alienation, or reduced performance? Or just feeling like you’re ready to be DONE with this phase? Burnout is common, especially among care providers, but it doesn’t have to take over your Holiday season. We have tips and tricks on how to avoid the end of year burnout so you can finish out strong.

man lying on road with burnout marks

What is burnout and why are we talking about this?

First, what exactly is burnout, and what causes it? This might seem like a silly question. But it’s worth talking about for a second. According to Mayo Clinic, burnout is “…a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity”. In other words, you’ve been doing the same (or similar enough) things for a long time and you’ve reached your capacity to keep doing it at the same performance level.

This is important to talk about because burnout and depression share a lot of similar symptoms. And while you might be experiencing the dragging feeling of typical tiredness, late October through end of February are the months when some folks tend to face the worst symptoms of depression as well. Why? A few reasons are the culprit: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), spurred by the lack of sunshine and being cooped up inside, holidays spent without family or friends (whether due to a death or alienation), or inversely holidays spent WITH family or friends that are not safe to be around can be the top of the list.

Depression and burnout can feel the same, except for a few key differences. Burnout almost always is focused around performance of a task, such as school or a job or even long term care of a loved one. You feel tired, cynical, irritable, emotionally numb, have trouble concentrating or getting going, or gastrointestinal issues. Depression involves all of these, but also low self esteem, hopelessness, and/or suicidal ideation. For your own wellbeing, it’s essential to distinguish between these two things.

If you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or others please reach out for help. Call 988 to contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for 24/7 free access to support.

Let’s talk about how to help!

Ok, this is easier said than done (as most things are). You’re experiencing some burnout, whether that is from finals, rotations, school demands, or your current work position. We have some ideas on how to help you get through the next few weeks or months:

  • Get support. This can’t be stressed enough. Grab a cup of coffee with a friend, call your mom/therapist/other trusted person, or commiserate with your cohort. People are social beings and we need to be in community with others to thrive. You will be amazed how much better you’ll feel just by venting for an hour to another person!
  • Journal. A great tool for monitoring your stress and coping levels is by journaling for a few minutes every day. The act of expelling all the negative feelings you have out of yourself is something quick (more or less), easy, and free. It’s also something that can create a sense of autonomy over your stress. Writing things out allows you to evaluate and mull things over in a different way that can lead to more creative solutions or coping!
  • Self-care stress management. Again, easier said than done, but will reap benefits if you implement it. This looks like aerobic exercise, yoga, mindfulness meditation, or a hobby that relaxes you (art, crafting, reading, bubble baths, sitting under a tree…the options are endless!). Carve out the time for YOU and no one else that has nothing to do with any of the things stressing you out.
  • If possible, do something that actively makes your situation better. How? If you’re a student prepping for a board exam or needing help with the school year, give our question banks a try- FREE- using our Free Trial! Or, contact us about our tutoring options!

REF: Depression: What is burnout? Informed Health Online. https://www.informedhealth.org/what-is-burnout.html. Accessed May 13, 2021

Swenson S, Shanafelt T. Mayo Clinic Strategies to Reduce Burnout: 12 Actions to Create the Ideal Workplace. Oxford University Press; 2020.

Breaking Out of the Procrastination Predicament

According to Oxford Languages, procrastination is defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something”. We like to procrastinate when we’re facing something we don’t want to do (like studying for a board exam). Some might say they’re more productive for other things when they’re procrastinating than any other time. Sort of like, “I could be studying, but look at all this laundry that needs done!” or “This bathroom vent hasn’t been cleaned in probably 3 years, I really need to do it right this second.” (As an aside, do clean that vent if its been that long).

Intersection of procrastination and homework on a Stop sign

That load of laundry or wayward vent or broken this-or-that will eventually turn into about 30 other things you convince yourself are more pressing. Then what do you know, the day is done and you have successfully avoided any prepping or studying. This can become a problem when it forms into a habit. Where does our procrastination come from?

Paltry Priorities

That’s right- sometimes our delaying comes from bad prioritizing. We need to ask, “What is being prioritized?” This is a tough question to ask yourself, but it must be done to get to the root of ones procrastination. We all prioritize our days and tasks to get things done in order of importance. Now, of course certain elements of procrastination can be truly important things, such as cooking and basic cleaning for oneself and basic self-care. But we all know when we cross the line between covering basic needs and dawdling for the sake of avoiding something 🙂

So we have to ask, in terms of our ambitions, how are we prioritizing moving forward towards our goals? Yes, your microwave has never looked cleaner, but is that really aiding you in getting ready to take your PRITE?

Perceived Productivity is Preposterous

Another aspect of procrastination is perceived productivity. Have you ever been playing a video game (instead of studying) and cruised through a whole bunch of objectives, and pull away feeling immensely accomplished? You just covered so much ground in this alternate reality, you deserve a break!–wait.

Sometimes we can find ways to feel like we’ve done a great deal of something when we’ve really done nothing. Now, this isn’t to say video games are always a waste of time because there are definitely times and places for them (or whatever other activity you use). But it’s also important to recognize when we’re using these activities as a crutch to feel “productive” when we’re really just avoiding something we don’t want to do.

Plan Your Path

We all fall victim to procrastination at one point or another. Sometimes it’s even good for us to mentally check out from things we’ve been absorbed in and take a brain break for a bit. But when this becomes a habit, it’s necessary to break the mold and restructure our perspectives. How do we do this? Plan and schedule out times for work and times for play will help this process. When we know we have an enjoyable event coming up, we get a little boost of dopamine in anticipation of it, which can in turn create a more positive experience when we’re doing the hard work of studying.

Try pacing out 20 minutes of study, 10 minutes of break for a few hours and see how much you can get done (for both the studying and the “other stuff”!). At the end of the day, you’ll have gotten through more materials than if you had pushed it off all day, and you probably won’t feel overwhelmed by it because you gave yourself chances to clear a level of Candy Crush, or fold a load of laundry, or sort you bookshelf in between.

And for some inspiration to get you going, give our question banks a try- FREE- using our Free Trial! Or if you’re ready to take the plunge, check out our Question Banks and find the perfect fit for you! Or, contact us with any questions you have so we can get you on the right path today!

Failure is a Fearsome Thing. Here’s How to Combat It.

Didn’t make the score you hoped? While it sure feels like a failure, here’s why it isn’t the end of your journey.

Man holding sign that says "failure"

Failure Does Not Define You!

When you spend so much time (and money!) preparing for a big test, failing can feel like a literal slap in the face. Picture this: you’ve been studying like crazy, going through exam prep books, watching lectures, taking practice exams, and the week of your test you get a cold. Then your car breaks down. And it’s finals week. You do your best, but still come out short of what you were aiming for.

Quitting time? Sure feels like it. You probably feel like an imposter, like anyone else “would have” done better (when in reality, a healthy and non-distracted you would have done better, too!). You start to second guess if you should even be trying to do this field, or if you should opt for something different. This is the time to take a step back.

Did that short score feel like a punch in the gut? Absolutely. Does it mean you are a failure in everything you do? Of course not! Take a minute and think of all the amazing accomplishments you’ve made to get this far. Whether that be post-secondary education, publications, presentations, or any of the other hundred or so responsibilities you’ve smashed in the last few years. You. Are. Doing. A. Great. Job.

Who, Me?

Yes, you! Some days we will fall short and that is terrifying. But it also should be inspiring when you look back and see how far you’ve come from where you started. It is too easy to get wrapped up in all the prepping and studying that our very identities become enmeshed in the outcome of something like a psychiatry board exam. While they are important and definitely will be a requirement to pursue this field, sometimes it’s worth stepping back and remembering who YOU are is more than the number that test will spit out.

We all need this at times. Even when the board exams are behind you, different things will crop up in your career that will leave you reeling and questioning everything. No one is perfect, and no one can predict what life will throw at you. All you can do is evaluate the situation at hand and….

And… And What??

Study, work hard, and do your best! After you’ve taken your day or two to breathe, dive right back in. Is that first score a disappointment? Yep. But that score does not mean YOU are a disappointment. It means you get another opportunity to give it your best shot and come in swinging. You can also check out our previous blog on what to do after you’ve failed an exam for more direction on where to go next!

Maybe give a question bank a shot 😉 (see our free trial here!)