With a New School Year Starting, Here Is How to Avoid Burnout | Jeff Horton

Jeff Horton
3 min readAug 29, 2023

As the vibrant hues of summer transition into the crisp colors of autumn, students and educators gear up for a new academic year filled with challenges, opportunities, and immense learning. But with the zeal to excel and outperform, the shadow of burnout lurks close by. Burnout, coupled with feelings of cynicism and detachment — can derail the best of us from our academic pursuits.

Routine Matters: Establish a daily routine that incorporates breaks. Frequent pauses during study sessions can boost productivity and reduce fatigue. The Pomodoro Technique involves 25 minutes of focused work followed by a 5-minute rest period.

Sleep Hygiene: The foundation of mental well-being lies in sound sleep. Aim for 7–9 hours of quality sleep. Create a bedtime routine, avoid screens an hour before sleeping, and ensure your sleep environment is dark and quiet.

Meditation and Mindfulness: Engage in practices that ground you. Meditation, deep-breathing exercises, or simply spending quiet outdoor moments reduce stress, improve focus, and foster a positive mindset.

Seek Counseling: There’s no shame in seeking help. Many educational institutions offer counseling services if feeling overwhelmed or needing someone to talk to; counselors provide coping tools and strategies.

Planners are a Lifesaver: Use digital tools, apps, or good old-fashioned paper planners to track assignments, tests, and activities. Seeing your commitments can help you allocate time effectively.

Set Realistic Goals: It’s easy to overcommit in the enthusiasm of a new school year. Be realistic about your availability. It’s okay not to join every club or take every advanced class. Prioritize quality over quantity.

Break Tasks into Manageable Steps: Instead of viewing a project as a massive endeavor, break it down. Tackling small tasks reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed and provides a sense of achievement with each completed step.

Avoid Procrastination: Easier said than done, but pushing tasks off increases stress. If motivation is low, commit to working on a task for 10 minutes. Starting is the most challenging part; you might find the momentum to continue once you begin.

Stay Connected: While academics are important, human connections are paramount. Engage with peers not just in the context of studies but also for social interactions. Sharing feelings, laughing over a joke, or chatting can be rejuvenating.

Engage in Non-academic Activities: Balance is essential. Pursue a hobby, engage in sports, or participate in community service. These activities provide a fresh perspective and a break from the academic grind.

Limit Digital Downtime: Technology is a boon but can lead to burnout if not used mindfully. Set specific times for social media or online activities and be conscious of screen time.

Seek Peer Support or Study Groups: Collaborative learning can be more effective than solitary study sessions. Study groups often provide diverse perspectives, making the learning process engaging. Teaching a concept to a peer is a great way to reinforce your understanding.

A new school year brings with it a mix of excitement, opportunities, and challenges. By prioritizing self-care, mastering time management, and fostering genuine connections, students can avoid burnout and truly thrive in the academic environment.

Originally published at https://jeffhorton.info on August 29, 2023.

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Jeff Horton

Jeff Horton is a Duluth-based educator, superintendent, technology enthusiast, and believer in representation. Learn more @ http://jeffhorton.info/.