Have you ever wondered how you can recover from burnout as a medical student?
Stressing out while in medical university is a common occurrence. Since it appears to be expected, people may miss the signs and symptoms of a much more severe condition called burnout.
Burnout is far more dangerous than day-to-day stress. It is often overlooked or dismissed as typical university stress.
You walk up and have no desire for attending lectures or doing any given assignments. Even the thought of doing anything related to your medical education is irritating. You feel pressured, exhausted, and have zero motivation for studying.
If this describes you, you may be suffering from academic burnout.
The first thing to remember is that it is more frequent than you would believe and that the sooner you treat it, the better.
Read the article and learn what burnout is, how to recognize the symptoms and recover from it.
What is burnout?
The term “burnout” was used for the first time in 1974 by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. Burnout was officially recognised in 2019 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an occupational phenomenon.
Although it is not classified as a medical condition or mental disorder by the WHO, burnout is the reason behind many people’s depression, low productivity, and feelings of hopelessness.
Academic burnout is an adverse emotional, physical, and mental reaction to extended study sessions that causes weariness, frustration, a loss of enthusiasm, and reduced academic performance.
It’s the result of weeks or months of studying the same topic or working on the same project without rest properly.
What causes burnout?
The reason behind burnout can never be just one. Most of the time, many different factors contribute to high levels of stress. Therefore if not appropriately managed and neglected, the pressure can lead to academic burnout.
Many medical students find the first 2 years of their education challenging and full of unexpected difficulties, such as the amount of information they should memorize. Here are a few aspects of the medical student’s life that can cause burnout.
Bad time management
As a medical student, you will have a significant number of lectures and assignments daily. You will feel pressured by a particular deadline or grade you want to achieve.
In advance, you will spend lots of time reading your notes, medical books, online lectures, and studying in general. If you don’t organize your study schedule accordingly, you won’t have enough time to exercise, sleep, and take care of your health. This is a recipe for academic burnout.
You can keep up with this plan for a few weeks or even months, but you will damage your mental and physical health in the end.
It is good to have specific goals and ambitions to achieve them, but it is also essential to be realistic about your abilities.
Medical students are bound to be precise, trustworthy, and devoted to their education. However, staying healthy comes before your MD degree.
Lack of free time and social life
Following the previous paragraph, when you overwork yourself, you will start to cancel plans with friends, quit hobbies, and not giving yourself time to relax.
You have to find the balance between medical education and social life. You need a support system of family and friends. Spending time with new people, visiting new places will bring you positive emotions.
Sacrificing exercise, family time, mental and physical care will not help you achieve your dreams. It will bring you to the edge of burnout, which can last for 2 weeks or up to a few months.
Studying abroad worries
Every year thousands of students decide to study medicine or dentistry in Europe in English. That is an excellent opportunity for them for several reasons: affordable medical education, worldwide recognised degrees, and lower living costs.
However, as with everything other in life, there are pros and cons of studying medicine abroad. Some of the hardships that international medical students face are:
- Accommodation worries
- Money matters
- Culture shock
- Language barrier
How to recognise the symptoms of burnout?
Some of the most common warning signs are:
- Feeling sleepy no matter how much sleep you get
- Having trouble getting motivated to go to class or start assignments
- Lacking originality and inspiration for projects and class discussions
- Loss of faith in your capabilities
- Not being able to meet important deadlines
- High levels of stress and exhaustion
- Inability to pay attention in class or during lectures
- You’re bored or dissatisfied with subjects that you used to like
How to recover?
The first step of the recovery process is to notice the symptoms and take them seriously. In most cases, you can practice self-treatment to fight burnout. However, if you find yourself unable to manage the situation, don’t lose time and ask for professional help.
Here are some tips that can help you recover from burnout:
Change your goals
Be realistic with the goals that you are setting for yourself.
Learn how to manage your time properly
You can create a study schedule with all important academic deadlines. Try to stick to it and don’t cram. It is essential to have free time for the things that you like to do. You should include daily activities as fitness, cooking, listening to music, etc.
Eat healthily and drink water
Make new friends
The main goal is to become a doctor but make it fun and enjoy some quality time with friends and fellows from university.
Don’t compare yourself with others
Take small steps
If you are experiencing burnout, it is because you have neglected your health and overworked yourself for a very long time. The path to recovery will take time too. Be patient, and the change will come.
Many medical students have experienced burnout. It is nothing scary, but you have to be mindful of your health.
Implement the suggested tips and make your study medicine journey a positive experience.