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Tips for Avoiding a Study Burnout

tired student sleeping behind a pile of books at a table
Written by CB Community

There comes a time in every college student’s life when you feel like; that’s it! Years and years spent learning and memorizing all kinds of information regardless of whether you deem it useful or not can tire anyone out, and in today’s competitive world, the stakes are high. Of course, you want to make the most of all the time and money poured into your education, and that requires not a small amount of sitting down at your desk, which, sooner or later results in sleep deprivation, a bad diet, and generally, a lack of motivation.

Study burnout is a kind of exhaustion, both mental and physical, that is the result of the constant stress to perform well academically. And ironically, it can have detrimental effects on not only your performance, but your mental health and personal life as well. Its symptoms include: constant fatigue, difficulty to learn effectively, the aforementioned lack of motivation and feeling like you’re simply intellectually tired.

Whether you’re a student who’s struggling with exams or an educator striving to help students, if the aforementioned symptoms sound familiar to you, read on to learn some tips for avoiding this miserable state. It’s very important to recognize bad strategies, and to ditch them


For some people, this will be procrastinating all day and then panicking at the last minute. They might try to cram as much as they can, while for others, this will be studying hours on end without standing up and taking a proper break. Whatever it is, scrutinize what you are doing and make a conscious effort to create better habits. You might also not notice how much time you’re wasting with passive studying. Although just reading the material might require less effort than testing yourself, it’s not nearly as effective either. So, incorporate active learning tasks into your strategies to maximize the payoff.


This cannot be stressed enough. Students might find that, occasionally, they’re really short on time and have no choice but to do an all-nighter, but they have to be aware of how bad this actually is for their health. Your mental functions are basically compromised when you’re running on little rest, and your studying ability will decrease as well. The fact is that lack of sleep will make you feel more stressed, and you have the perfect recipe for frustration and hours of studying with no result, and a vicious cycle that is hard to get out of. So, try to avoid skipping sleep as much as you possibly can.

Create a schedule – and keep to it

This includes taking those much-needed breaks from studying as well. Time management is key in academics, so you should learn it as early on as possible. Determine when your best hours to study are and don’t force yourself when you know it’s not working. The best approach is to restrict your study time (e.g. no studying after 8 pm), but be extra attentive during those hours scheduled for studying. It might also help tremendously in creating a daily schedule if you first monitor yourself and determine how long it takes to complete a certain task, and adjust your hours accordingly. Generally speaking, you should do your best to avoid last-minute cramming as well. While your initial plan of keeping up with the materials regularly can (and will) fail, organize your study schedule so that you have ample time to familiarize yourself with the material and not feel like you have to rush through everything the night before, which, we all know, doesn’t end nicely.

A helping hand

If you feel like your burnt out state is starting to become a permanent issue, don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Usually, every university has counseling centers and rest assured, they have dealt with many similar scenarios as yours. Alternatively, you can also enlist the help of a teacher’s aide. These individuals have been certified to offer educational support where it is needed the most. Amongst other things, they can be there to help those children with behavioral issues, as well as provide support and assistance to those with special learning needs.

What’s also worth mentioning is that in an academic setting, it’s often largely up to the educators to motivate students and create a healthy learning environment. Teachers with a degree in education support know this and will always help students who are stuck in a rut. And once you learn how to overcome this issue, you will possess valuable experience that might even become a helping hand for others. You will learn that giving back is also a rewarding experience that will further motivate you and teach you things a textbook cannot.

If a teacher notices these signs of burnout in any of their students, it’s a good reason to worry. It is most noticeable in students who were initially performing well but have been showing a steady decrease in their grades. In these times, it is important that the teacher puts an emphasis not only on what to learn, but also on how to learn it. Teaching them the most effective strategies and helping them discover what works for them is paramount – after all, the materials might be uniform but the learning styles of the students are certainly not.

Be smart with what you study

All in all, your aim should be to study less but more effectively. This all starts with regularly attending lectures and taking notes. These are going to be invaluable when you’re faced with a 500-page textbook and you don’t even know where to start. Paying attention during lectures can also help you determine what’s important and what’s not, so that you will waste less time on irrelevant material. It could also prove useful to talk to older students and try to get as informed as possible on what the most important parts are. When push comes to shove and you have more on your plate than you can tackle, prioritizing will save your nerves. Remember, learning smart will take you the farthest.

Strike a balance

While it might seem unrealistic, you shouldn’t completely ditch the things that make you happy during the times you’re intensely preparing for exams. The importance of the notion of self-care is becoming known across the board, so you should strive to strike a balance. If you don’t do anything besides studying the entire day, your concentration levels will be low sooner than later. However, make sure you make those activities outside of studying count. Scrolling through social media might look tempting, but think about what could make you feel more fulfilled instead. Is it hanging out with your friends? Or reading a bit of a novel? Perhaps it is working out for half an hour, you just don’t know it yet.

A studying burnout is a dire situation that unfortunately affects students all over the world. To prevent it or get out of it as soon as you can, try to keep yourself to the aforementioned tips and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

For more great information on all topics regarding college life, check out the other blogs at College Basics.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.