A Guide to Overcoming Academic Burnout

This article covers how to identify and deal with academic burnout, as well as a few prevention methods to make sure it doesn't happen at all.


3/15/20234 min read


In recent years, as students progress through their high school and college educations, the term “burnout” has become increasingly relevant to describe their experience in school. For many students, it is normal to experience periods of burnout. For these reasons, it’s imperative that students know what academic burnout looks like. Often, students are not aware that they are experiencing this phenomenon and that there are several methods they could use to help cope with this burnout, or better yet, avoid it altogether.

What is Academic Burnout?

Academic burnout refers to the result of long-term school-related stress experienced by students. For the duration of their high school career, many things pile up on a student’s plate that effectively invokes stress upon them and can eventually trigger burnout. Academic burnout is commonly characterized by a state of mental and physical exhaustion in addition to emotional detachment. Students experiencing burnout may not necessarily exhibit all the characteristics. Still, it is important to note that if this burnout is not taken care of, it can lead to concerning mental health issues as well as physical ailments.

Symptoms of Academic Burnout


  • Students with academic burnout often express higher levels of pessimism, having strong beliefs that the worst is bound to happen and there is little hope for their future. This drives these students to feel like any setbacks that they have only strengthen their pessimistic perception of their future and they tend to take these setbacks particularly hard.

Lack of Motivation

  • In the face of so much built-up stress, a student experiencing academic burnout and this pessimistic outlook lose their motivation to do their schoolwork. In addition, these students commonly feel chronically exhausted and begin to lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed.

Lower Quality Academic Performance

  • As a consequence of the aforementioned decreased levels of motivation and interest, students struggling with academic burnout tend to have lessened academic performance than what is typically expected of them. They also may have reduced productivity and trouble focusing, inhibiting their ability to learn new information and keep up with their classes.

Increased Anxiety/Depression

  • This continuous source of stress has a significant negative impact on a student's mental well-being, leading to conditions of high anxiety and depression. The symptoms listed above also add struggles to their already poor circumstances, further contributing to a student’s mental health decline.

A Decline in Physical Health

  • This continuous source of stress has a significant negative impact on a student's mental well-being, leading to conditions of high anxiety and depression. The symptoms listed above also add struggles to their already poor circumstances, further contributing to a student’s mental health decline.

How to Cope With Academic Burnout
  • Recognize - The first big step for a person battling burnout is coming to acknowledge this is what they may be experiencing. Take a good look at the symptoms listed above, if some of them apply then academic burnout is likely at play here. But do not fear, the sooner a student realizes they are experiencing academic burnout the easier it is for them to reverse it.

  • Counter - Once a student realizes that they are experiencing burnout, the process of reversing it should begin as soon as possible. The following is a list of some useful coping strategies and tips that students can use to combat their academic burnout.

    • Take Breaks - Allow the mind time to relax and take a break from the pressure and give it a period of respite to lessen stress levels.

    • Seek Help - Turn to friends, trusted adults, parents, or a school counselor for advice and help.

    • Hobbies - Taking time to do something enjoyable is also a good way to relieve some of the stress a burnt-out student faces.

    • Start Saying "No" - Learn to prioritize your needs and know when something might be too much to handle at one time.

    • Develop Time Management Skills - Keeping a regular schedule for the time a student spends on different activities can help them get organized and back on track.

    • Maintain Healthy Sleeping Habits - Getting the right amount of sleep can do marvels for a student facing burnout and relieve some stress.

  • Build Resilience - A student facing burnout should strengthen themselves against it so it no longer affects them.

    • Develop a Positive Mindset - Maintaining a positive outlook is crucial to combat the negative impacts of academic burnout.

    • Socialize - Finding time to take a mental break by talking with friends is an effective way to stay connected with others and reduce stress.

    • Journal - Setting aside time to journal will help a student to get to know themselves better and it is also an excellent way to keep track of one’s achievements and boost motivation.

Tips for Avoiding Academic Burnout

Even when a student is not currently facing academic burnout there are still ways to avoid the phenomenon entirely.

  • Be Aware of the Warning Signs - Know what academic burnout looks like to catch it early and make adjustments to avoid a prolonged period of burnout.

  • Prioritize Yourself - Students should not push themselves too hard to the point where they are overwhelmed. They must take time to do things that they find enjoyable. And if needed, cancel plans for your benefit and know your limits to prevent academic burnout.

  • Ask for Extensions - Don’t make a habit out of it, but asking for more time for an assignment can be helpful, especially when overcome with exhaustion.

  • Build Time Management Skills - Planning out a schedule and making sure to organize their time can be a game-changer for students aiming to avoid burnout and prevent procrastination.

  • Break Down Assignments - Making assignments feel smaller than they are can keep students motivated and less overwhelmed with their workload.

  • Follow Passions - When students take classes that align with their interests it makes assignments feel less stressful and work-like and increases motivation.


Academic burnout is something that many students face at some point in their careers and it can be overwhelming and frustrating beyond belief. This just shows how crucial it is for students to have information about the symptoms of burnout and the available coping strategies they can use to overcome it when it hits them hard. Always keep in mind that students facing burnout are never alone and can always turn to others for help.


"Burnout In School". Understood.Org, 2023, https://www.understood.org/en/articles/burning-out-in-school-what-it-means-and-how-to-help. Accessed 14 Mar 2023.

“Student Burnout: What Is It and How Can You Cope with It.” Novorésumé, 2 Aug. 2022, https://novoresume.com/career-blog/student-burnout.

Wirthlin, Erica. "How To Help With Burnout In Gifted Kids | Davidson Institute". Davidson Institute, 2021, https://www.davidsongifted.org/gifted-blog/burnout-in-gifted-children/. Accessed 14 Mar 2023.