As everyone knows, the IBDP is a large responsibility and has a pretty heavy workload. It is easy to feel overwhelmed more than once during your two years in the program. The word ‘‘burnout’’ is defined as a mental exhaustion caused by long lasting and an overdose of stress. With our busy schedules, long studying hours, and emotional breakdowns (at least for me!), a burnout seems to go hand-in-hand with IB. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The following tips are what I use to lessen the impact of a burnout or prevent it from happening entirely. I hope this helps you avoid your next burnout!
1. Acknowledge that burnout is normal
6 classes, multiple IAs, EE, TOK courses, CAS activities, and other, smaller activities to catch up on… Even hearing this schedule makes many people gasp, so it is not an anomaly for an IB student to feel like they got themselves into trouble. Not to mention, you also have to fit in family and friend time. Trying to handle all these things at once will likely test your limits. Perhaps you’ll feel like you are not good enough for any of them. You might even feel like you are going to fail the IBDP.
But the first step to overcome this feeling is not to ignore it and not continue to work or worry. Acknowledge that you have been pushing your limits recently, that these past few days have been hard and it is totally normal. This is a heavy bag on your shoulders and realizing its weight is a natural response. Don’t beat yourself up for it.
2. Give yourself breaks
This tip might sound too cliché, but breaking the stress cycle you are putting yourself into will be the solution to burnout. Just keeping your mind off of whatever is making you get stuck in this stress cycle is suitable. Breaking this chain makes me feel refreshed and purified from the exhaustion; I feel more energized and happier when tackling projects. Taking breaks and distracting yourself count as recharging yourself to continue hard work.
Some of us feel guilty when we stop working, which is what exacerbates the cycle. But we have to remember to work smarter, not harder. The IB neither requires you to give every free hour you have on its assignments nor require this in order to succeed. It’s impossible to reach your goals and be happy about them if you’re burnt out and stressed.
3. Share with someone
When I feel like I have reached my limits or feel like I’m inadequate for the program, I text my friends saying ‘‘I feel like I can’t keep doing this.’’ Pretty dramatic, isn’t it? But a burnout has that effect on you and if you keep piling that up in yourself, you’ll reach a point where you really won’t be able to keep doing IB sustainably. If you are texting friends who are going through the same thing, you will be able to support each other in this process and lift each other up when it is needed.
It’s important to note that your friends are not your therapists. Before sharing, check in if they have the mental space for it. You’ll be more considerate of their time and their own mental energy, and will be more likely to help you out when they are available. A quick text asking “do you have the mental energy to listen to a vent?” is all you need.
You can also share with online communities such as on the IBlieve Community Slack, where IB students from everywhere get to be on the same platform. Even if the comforting messages won’t satisfy you, you’ll be relieved to get it off your chest. These pages on Reddit or Quora are other examples. Remember to use the appropriate medium! For example, if anonymity is important to you, Reddit allows for it more than Quora or the IBlieve Community Slack.
Honestly, we are in this for two years and many of us are in this program to fulfill our dreams, hopes, and goals. To keep me going through rough patches, I look for motivation online. Looking for study inspo or university life boards on Pinterest, watching ‘‘Day as a University Student’’ vlogs on YouTube or ‘‘Study with Me’’ videos on IBlieve’s channel remind me why I am doing this program and towards what I am working for. It pushes me to continue and gives me the energy to keep going.
Even if I only meditate for ten minutes, it helps me clear my head and stop worrying about the next due date. Being aware of my own presence makes me appreciate my well-being. It will be a break from that stress cycle and comfort you inside. Boho Beautiful, a yoga fitness and meditation YouTube channel, has some excellent content. Their 10-minute guided morning meditation is one of my favorites.
These five tips work well for my needs and circumstances, and hopefully work for you too! It’s entirely okay if only one (or even none!) of these appeal to you. Do what satisfies your needs and take a break in the best way or you. Everyone is different. If you act on behalf of yourself, it will be easier to avoid a burnout and reduce its impact if you do get into one.