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How to deal with winter burnout

by Danya Elsayed

Feeling a little sluggish?

As students, many of us can relate to feeling stressed or unmotivated during the school year. You may feel it more during the winter, as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder.

Winter burnout is a term used to describe the feeling of being physically, emotionally, or mentally exhausted during the winter months. It is a result of being overwhelmed by personal, work, or school demands and having difficulty finding the motivation to complete daily tasks.

Cartoon character Spongebob lounges on chair, sighing

Although a change in weather can greatly affect your mood and work ethic, it is possible to overcome winter burnout. Read on to find out how!

First and foremost, what are the feelings associated with winter burnout?

  • Irritation: You feel constantly annoyed, and may even snap at friends and family for the smallest things.
  • Distraction: You have trouble concentrating or finding the motivation to do your work.
  • Emotional exhaustion: You experience feelings of anxiety or depression related to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  • Fatigue: You feel like you have little to no energy to get your work done.
  • Isolation: You don’t want to go to school or work and don’t want to see friends and family.
  • Apathy: You feel as though everything in your life is going wrong and you have no control over what happens. You’re uninterested in the things you once enjoyed.

The responsibilities we have as students can often cause us more stress than we can handle. When this happens, it’s a good idea to take a step back and re-evaluate what is working for you and what isn’t. The good news is there are ways that you can deal with these feelings.

American actor, Tom Hanks places finger to mouth in deep thought

Tips on how to deal with Burnout:

  • Make a schedule: feeling overwhelmed has a lot to do with time management. When you come up with a schedule, you’re able to visualize everything you need to do.
  • Don’t take on more than you can handle: sometimes you need to say no to things if you know you’ve got too many things going on. You may feel bad in the moment, but you’ll feel much better knowing that you didn’t add on to your mounting pile of stress. If you have a part-time job, it’s a good idea to chat with your supervisors to adjust your hours.
  • Get enough sleep: not getting enough sleep can affect your mood immensely. It can add to the unnecessary stress, and make you feel even more irritable. Getting a good 7-9 hours will give your brain the rest it needs to function properly.
  • Eat healthy: what you put in your body significantly affects how you feel on the inside. Start by cutting back on things you don’t need, like coffee and sugary foods, and replacing them with healthy alternatives. You can also check out our meal-prepping article to give you some advice on how to get started.

Cartoon character, Homer Simpson crawls on treadmill

  • Exercise: Going to the gym can be an amazing stress-reliever and motivator (especially when there isn’t much to do outside in the winter). Find what you enjoy about the gym and harness it to motivate you. If you need more guidance, here are some tips for staying fit during the winter.
  • Join a club: give yourself the opportunity to meet new people, and take part in things that interest you. We’ve got endless clubs for you to join, so there’s bound to be one to pique your interest.
  • Talk to family and friends: it’s important not to isolate yourself when you’re feeling burnt out. Your family and friends are a valuable support system that can lift your mood just by listening to you. Talking to people might feel like the last thing you want to do, but it’ll help you in the long run, I promise.

The school year is like a race if you start off too strong too fast you’re bound to get tired somewhere in the middle. Add in the change of weather, and lack of sunlight and the race gets even more difficult. The best thing to do is pace yourself. Check in with yourself any time you feel any of the burnout symptoms, and give yourself the patience and time needed to recuperate.

You got this!