By Isabella Keats
October was Mental Health Awareness month in Canada. Mental health has become an incredibly important topic in our daily lives. From everyday stress to mental illness, everybody has mental health. October to December is a very stressful time due to the holidays, mid-term report cards, and the OSSLT for some students here at Harbord. With all these assignments piling on and due dates that seem impossible, students are sure to be feeling overwhelmed. One very common feeling among students is burnout.
Now when you hear the word “burnout”, what do you think? Do you think of something that is the result of stress or do you think of the car stunt? If your first thought is that burnout is the result of stress, then you’d be correct. Burnout is when you feel hopeless and drowning in responsibilities, even feeling empty or mentally exhausted. Symptoms like feeling tired, frequent headaches, loss of motivation, self-isolation, procrastination, and change in appetite or sleep habits are all signs of burnout.
Often with burnout, stress makes an appearance, so how can you tell the two apart? Well, for starters, stress is a feeling of too much, an overwhelming feeling due to the workload. Stress still comes from a feeling of mental and physical pressure; however, stressed people can see an end to the workload. On the other hand, with burnout, it’s a sense of not being able to fix the workload. Burned out people tend to feel dried up and can’t see an end to the workload.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Is there any way to prevent or aid burnout?” The answer to your question is yes, there are.
When it comes to preventing burnout, here are a few things you can do. For starters, find an outlet. Having an emotional or physical outlet to fall back on can be very useful in life. If it's picking up a hobby, playing a sport you like, or even just walking around your neighbourhood, find something that brings your mind peace. Next, know when to ask for help. Knowing when to ask for help can make a huge difference in preventing burnout. Finally, build healthy habits. Going to bed at the same time every night, eating proper meals, staying hydrated, and even having some physical exercise throughout the day can play a massive role in how burnout affects you.
If you are already experiencing burnout, here are ways to aid it. First, try reaching out. Talk to close friends or family, maybe even try contacting our school’s child and youth worker - Tabitha Dovell. Next, rework your priorities. Have you tried writing down all your assignments with their due date beside them and working on them in order? If that doesn’t feel right, then work on the assignment you want to do the most. Once you get on a roll, you might not want to stop. Lastly, use your outlet. Going back to your outlet that you already have in place should feel easier to use instead of finding one when you’re stressed.
This time of year is stressful, but it can be manageable. Having healthy habits, supportive friends, and skills like time management can be the factors that save you from severe burnout. Because it can sometimes be hard to find resources, at the bottom of this article I have listed free resources that you can use including, Kids Help Phone, CAMH, Mind Beacon (a site offering free mental health support), and Bounce Back (a website full of resources, so then you can create your own personalized self-help journey).
Kids Help Phone: https://kidshelpphone.ca/
Mind Beacon: https://info.mindbeacon.com/btn542