Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Association

MBPGSA Blog

Updates, opinion pieces, and news related to the department

Breaks & Burnout

Another great tip for the guys at GradUpdate from UWO. Although the articles refers to Reading Week, it is obvious that can be applied for any circumstance.

Hopefully, the relative calm of Reading Week is providing you with some time for relaxation. A break of some sort can help you get energized for the remaining weeks in the term. This is especially true if you’re feeling intellectually exhausted, a feeling that isn’t uncommon in a place full of intelligent, dedicated students with high expectations of themselves. Academic fatigue - or burnout - can occur when you’ve been pushing yourself too hard for too long without a break. According to a website for graduate students at the University of British Columbia ( www.grad.ubc.ca/gradpd/gameplan.html ) the warning signs of burnout are:

  • Loss of interest in or questioning the meaning of your studies and research
  • Chronic fatigue - exhaustion, a sense of being physically run down and emotionally flat
  • Anger at those making demands
  • Cynicism, negativity, and irritability
  • A sense of being besieged
  • Feelings of helplessness

The best solution? According to the website, “take time away from work to allow your emotional interest to regenerate, get perspective, and re-establish the balance in your life.”  Significantly, “time away” need not mean days or weeks; Reading Week offers an opportunity to have a change of routine and do something that constitutes a break, such as reading outside your field, visiting a friend, cooking a special meal, or watching a movie.

For advice on developing effective coping skills in graduate school, see the “Solutions” section of “Emotional Fatigue: Coping with Academic Pressure” at www.gradresources.org/articles/emotional_fatigue.shtml ).