BreatheUni: Tackling Burnout

By Patricia D. and Lauren T., MSc Health Psychology Students and Shawmind Volunteers

What is burnout?

We’re starting to hear this term more and more – burnout. But what even is it? Burnout can essentially be described as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Basically, burnout happens to individuals who tend to overwork themselves. This negative sort of sensation can be caused by excessive and prolonged stress. As the stress accumulates, your interest and motivation in things unfortunately fades. The negative effects of burnout can then spill into other areas of life, and can potentially affect both physical and mental health.

People experiencing burnout lack motivation, feel empty, feel mentally drained and do not see the positive side of situations. Becoming aware and recognising that you are experiencing symptoms is the first step to overcoming burnout. 

Ask yourself the following questions to recognise some of the symptoms:

  • Do I experience severe and prolonged stress?
  • Do I feel fatigued?
  • Do I feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to meet demands?
  • Have I lost interest and motivation on the things that I am doing?
  • Do I feel helpless and hopeless?

If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, you may be experiencing burnout. Your mental health and physical wellbeing are very important, so it’s time to take action to prevent it or cope with it. 

So, you may wonder how can I cope with burnout? Well, here are some tips that may be helpful as coping mechanisms to overcome burnout. 

Seek support

While it may be hard to open up about what you are going through and how burnout is affecting you, it is very important that you reach out to the people closest to you. Seeking support from family or friends who are willing to lend a listening ear may help you relieve some of the stress you are experiencing. You won’t be a burden to them, the people you trust and love the most will be more than willing to listen non-judgementally and help you in any way they can. Enjoy your time with your loved ones and take the focus away from the burnout you are experiencing. 


Yes, exercise! Believe it or not, physical activity improves your mood, and reduces stress and burnout. This is probably the last thing you want to do and trust me I can relate but it is effective! There are plenty of ways to do physical activity. You can try walking, running, taking part in a sport you like, dancing, going to the gym or even try workout videos at home (my favourite). Find what it would suit you the best and give it a try! If you like what you do, you will be more likely to enjoy it as well. Start by exercising 30 minutes a day and go from there. Even a short walk around the block can make you feel better. Keep your body moving!

Self-care can reduce stress

Just like the word describes it, take care of yourself! Consciously make an effort to do relaxing activities that improve your physical and psychological wellbeing. Find things that make you feel better and that nourish your soul. Go for a walk, be mindful of your surroundings and appreciate what nature has to offer. And, if that’s not your thing, maybe get some headphones, pick your favourite songs and lay down in bed, close your eyes and relax, or go on a walk as well. There are also relaxation techniques that you can try such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to activate your body’s restfulness state and reduce stress. Remember to be kind to yourself and truly enjoy what you choose to do as self-care!

Get enough sleep

Getting a good night of sleep is essential to protect your physical and psychological wellbeing and your quality of life. Sleep helps your brain function properly, helps heal and repair your blood vessels, maintain a healthy hormone balance and helps your immune system in staying healthy. Set a reasonable time that you would like to go to sleep at and try going to sleep at that same time every day. Put your phone away or any distractions that may keep you awake, lay in bed, get comfortable, close your eyes, do some breathing exercises and relax. Also, maybe try reading for 30 minutes before bedtime. Unwind from that long and stressful day, you deserve to have a good night of sleep! 

Remember that no matter what, you’re not alone – join us during out BreatheUni sessions on Thursdays at 7pm for a chat!

And follow us on Instagram @breathe_uni!