Managing Burnout

At UW-Madison, the academic culture pushes us to strive for success. But, we know that balancing work, personal life, academic expectations, and extracurriculars can get overwhelming. Checking in with yourself and managing stress is a critical way to avoid getting burnt out. Here’s a quick rundown on what burnout is and what you can do to prevent it so you can keep striving for success in a healthy and mindful manner. 

What is Burnout

Burnout is the result of prolonged chronic stress that leaves you feeling exhausted and drained. It can be difficult to recognize when you are reaching the point of burnout, here are some telltale signs:  


  • lowered immunity
  • frequent headaches or muscle pain
  • change in appetite or sleep habits
  • feeling tired and drained most of the time


  • sense of failure and self doubt
  • feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated, 
  • detachment
  • loss of motivation
  • decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment


  • withdrawing from responsibilities
  • isolation
  • procrastination


Avoiding burnout

Managing your stress and setting aside time to recover are great ways to avoid burnout. Here are some options on how to do that:

Managing your time

Long to-do lists can get pretty overwhelming! Planning out your day and allowing adequate time for each task while incorporating self-care into your routine is a great way to ensure time is being delegated efficiently. 

Keep expectations realistic

A lot of college students, especially in Madison, like to shoot for the stars in a way that is not realistic or sustainable in the long-term. Setting expectations that are realistic and manageable is important for your mental health and success. No grade is worth the deterioration of your wellbeing. 

Say no

College students tend to feel a lot of pressure to hustle and get ahead, but saying no every once in a while can be incredibly helpful. It’s important to manage your responsibilities and what you’re promising. Instead of jumping on every event and opportunity that comes your way, try to prioritize what means the most to you, sticking to two or three extracurriculars at a time. 

Prioritize sleep and exercise

A great way to ensure you have the energy to manage your busy schedule is to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and carve out time in your day for physical activity. Incorporating exercise in your daily routine and prioritizing sleep helps to prevent and treat burnout. 

Get involved in things you are interested in

An easy way to stay engaged and motivated is to get involved with things you enjoy. Whether that’s intramural sports, a student organization, or volunteering, setting aside time for your interests is important for maintaining motivation and drive.  

Ask for help

Most college students and professionals experience burnout, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help from your peers. There are a number of campus resources that are designed to help with this. GUTS, McBurney Disability Resource Center, AMP tutoring, ACTS, and The Writing Center are just some of the studying and tutoring resources we have here on campus. 

Taking care of yourself and your mental health should be your number one priority. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, you’re not alone. Take the time to check in with yourself and utilize campus resources to ensure you are getting the most out of your collegiate experience.