A personal story: what it is like to have a burnout?

She was the typical student: studying physiotherapy, babysitting a few times a week, hanging out with friends and riding horses as sports. She was told she had the perfect life and did not have to worry about anything. However, at some point it did not feel that way. The moment she realized she was not dealing with regular stress anymore, was the moment she actually had nothing to stress about.

The summer holiday was finally there, but she was completely exhausted and feeling worse than ever. An accumulation of several events caused a severe amount of stress: moving out, her parents’ divorce and the pressure to obtain high grades. She simply had too much on her plate.

“It feels like you are driving a car with an empty tank”

She was always very sensitive to stress and felt a constant pressure to perform. In hindsight, she scored high on all the personality traits of the burnout profile. She explained that a burnout “feels like driving a car with an empty tank. You want to do many things, but you just can’t. You do not enjoy anything anymore and want to hide underneath the blankets all day long”. Due to complete emotional, mental and physical exhaustion, she had to quit her studies. It was a difficult decision, but like University psychologist Kiss mentioned, you have to listen to your body.

Her typical day now consists of running errands, visiting the stables and the ordinary things, but it is hard. She took action within a few weeks by going to the doctor who referred her to a psychologist. Through therapy she understood how this happened to her and how to prevent it in the future. The burnout symptoms decreased, but unfortunately her burnout had already developed into a depression.

She does not feel understood. A burnout can take over your life completely. You feel that you might have to quit your studies, or even worse, will not be able to find a job later in life. She wants to create awareness as many students are struggling with chronical stress, emotional exhaustion or burnout symptoms. To prevent other young adults from having to go through what she is experiencing right now, she wants to share her insights so far:

  • Surround yourself with people who love you, because they are your best support system.
  • Listen to your body! Don’t neglect general restlessness, frequent muscle pains or concentration problems.
  • Make sure to relax. To accept that you cannot do everything is hard, but it will definitely help you in the end.
  • If you think that you might be suffering from a burnout, get professional help asap!
  • Most importantly, only do things that make YOU happy!

Are things not going smooth in your life as well and do you need some support or advice? At VUNET you can make an appointment with a study advisor or the University psychologist. Furthermore, the University psychologists are busy planning a how-to-deal-with-stress workshop, so keep an eye on that!

Have you already read our previous blogpost on chronic stress, emotional exhaustion and burnouts? Click here to find tips and tricks on how to prevent having to go through this yourself.