Burnout Doesn't Just Affect Health Care Professionals

Burnout Doesn't Just Affect Those In The 'Helping' Professions

Burnout refers to stress and exhaustion and it is commonly felt by those in "helping" professions - doctors, nurses, and EMTs, but burnout can affect anyone, no matter their job, career, or college major.

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When I was a senior in high school, I did a project about burn-out in emergency medical technicians. My mom is an EMT, and I spent a lot of time with her at the station. I would help her and her partner disinfect, wash, and check the inventory of the ambulances while she was on shift. I would help them make dinner, which, sometimes, she would be called away from.

It wasn't always dinners she would be called away from though. Sometimes she's woken up in the middle of the night, called away to a scene. And they aren't always "walks in the park"; sometimes they're violent accidents - cars flipped on their sides in the ditch.

Even though I spent an entire semester of my high school career researching burn-outs for emergency medical technicians, I didn't realize burn-out could affect college students in similar ways.

I wish I had all of that research about burnout in EMTs still handy, but I remember vaguely that burnout is a major reason why EMTs don't last very long in their careers. Burnout is a serious issue.

At this point, if you're wondering what "burnout" is, it's a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of lack of accomplishment.

Signs of emotional exhaustion include chronic fatigue; insomnia; forgetfulness/impaired concentration; increased illness; loss of appetite; anxiety; depression; and anger. More information can be found here.

Signs of cynicism and detachment include loss of enjoyment (which can be mild, like not wanting to go to class or being eager to leave, but it can quickly lead to all areas of your life, including the time you spend with family or friends), pessimism, and detachment).

Signs of lack of accomplishment include increased irritability, and lack of productivity and poor performance.

People also report having less investment in interpersonal relationships; this may be because people feel like they have less to offer, they have a diminished interest in having fun, or have less patience with people.

I know all of my friends are ready for spring break to get in gear. My friends have told me about their plans about visiting their boyfriend for the week, their family vacation to California, and so on, getting away from their stressors.

Last week I had a "mini-spring break" - I spent the weekend with my best friend. We laughed a lot, and I didn't spend a second worrying about homework. I got away for a little while, and last week I was pretty on top of my game.

This week? Not so much. It took me hours to come up with an article idea and executing it took over two hours. I have been struggling to do my homework and going to classes. I've been bogged down with all my "adulting responsibilities."

Burnout is a serious issue - it affects everybody from EMTs to college students. Remember the basics: get enough sleep, eat right, and exercise, are the first steps in getting back on track.

It's important to recognize what exactly is stressing you out. With that, writing down at least one way to modify that situation to reduce its stress, and implementing it into your routine. Psychology today recommends taking breaks between big projects, although I know as a college student that's not always an option. It also recommends controlling screen time.

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Being Sick In College Is A Real Struggle

Being sick in college is definitely not as fun as having a sick day in middle school or high school.

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Something that I have had to deal with multiple times these past two semesters is being sick while in school. It can be a real pain especially depending on what type of sickness it is. I have had tonsillitis, mono, and I'm pretty sure I also had the flu.

Being at school and away from home can make being sick worse because there is nobody to take of you such as your parents. Another thing is having to make the decision to get the rest that your body needs in order to feel better or staying on top of your assignments to avoid falling behind. My parents will always tell me to get a good night's sleep so my body can feel better the next day. However, sometimes I will feel more stress if my work isn't getting done and I feel like I'm falling behind and leaving things to get done in the last minute.

Currently, I am sick now and the past few days haven't been easy, but I still attended all my classes so I wouldn't miss any material or assignments that were given. I usually end up feeling the worst at night when trying to fall asleep, and by that time the doctors are not present at the student health center. Even though my health is important I usually don't like taking too much time out of my day to go to the health center to see a doctor. Some days I don't really have much free time before the evening.

I don't believe I have been over-exerting myself, but I don't want to just stay in my bed all day and sleep, even though that may be what is best for me. Most professors will be understanding if I email them and provide them a doctor's note as well, but I also just got back from a conference where I had to miss two days of classes next week.

I have been trying to keep hydrated so that way my body can fight the sickness. Also, I have been told if you stay hydrated you can flush the virus out of your body quicker.

Eating can also be a pain when you have a sore throat, for the past couple of days I have tried to have some soup in order to help. Most meals I would have to force myself to eat something of substance in order to give my body some type of energy in order to get through the day. It's also never fun not being able to breathe out of your nostrils. If it wasn't my nose being stuffed, then it would be constantly runny so there was no winning that battle.

Looking back, I probably should have done a bit more work over spring break in order to get ahead in the case that something like this would happen. I wanted my break to be exactly that, a break. After not being home for a few months I just wanted some time off to relax.

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