Preventing Burnout; Stop Workplace Stress Before It Starts – In College!

Newswise — Winston-Salem, N.C. – As if heavy course loads, on-campus activities and busy social calendars weren’t enough for college students to juggle, they also now carry the weight of a stagnant job market, record job insecurity and a high unemployment rate.

The pressure for peak performance and an on-call-24/7 mentality in the professional world continue to increase. Two-thirds of Americans have admitted to sleeping with their cell phones right next to their beds.

So, how can today’s college students prepare for the expectations of tomorrow’s workforce without burning out before earning their Bachelors’ degrees?

Counselors and career advisors at Wake Forest University have teamed up to develop the following tips to help students deal with job-related stress before their admirable work ethic becomes an unhealthy work obsession.

1. Discover your passion – “You wouldn’t play intramural soccer if you never had an interest in sports, so why force fit a major that doesn’t excite you?” asks Andy Chan, Vice President of Career Development. “Keep your eyes open for something that genuinely interests you and you will find meaning, fulfillment and success in your academic experience, career path and personal life.”

2. Establish a routine – “Activities that alleviate stress and provide joy, such as exercise, meditation, social activities and hobbies, are often the first things to go when people feel overworked and burned out. Making 30 minutes for these activities can help students (and workers) regain their focus and competitive edge because people feel better after they do something they enjoy,” says Samuel T. Gladding, Professor and Chair of the Department of Counseling.

3. Set boundaries – “There will always be something left to do tomorrow, but studies show people who recognize the ‘just enough’ point tend to be more successful and feel less overworked,” says Gladding. “Increase the value of work and play by living in the moment and not obsessing over tasks that can be completed in the days ahead. In addition, new ideas tend to come to mind for many people when they have a little time to think about a situation. Thus ‘sleeping on’ an idea is often healthy and helpful.”

4. Control your image – “A first impression will always be important, and for many prospective employers, it starts online,” says Chan. “Maintaining an impressive resume and profile on LinkedIn and foregoing embarrassing posts and photos on Facebook show recruiters you are polished, mature and strategic in putting your best face forward – and that’s something students can control.”

5. Ask for help – According to The Washington Post, a survey of counseling center directors at more than 300 four-year institutions found that more than 10 percent of students sought some sort of counseling in 2010. “While peer networks and certified counselors are great resources for the emotional aspect of feeling overwhelmed, career services can help guide and inspire students to take charge of their own journey. Working toward a goal is one of the healthiest behaviors people can have because it’s energizing and gives direction in life,” says Gladding.

Chan adds, “Students must remember that in the working world, raising a hand, asking for perspective and advice, and utilizing the tools needed to succeed is perceived as a strength, not a weakness.”

These pointers have helped senior Brooke Thomas, who balances a full academic schedule while also maintaining a starting position on the women’s basketball team, an internship and multiple leadership roles, stay sane and productive.

Before changing her major from business to communication, she visited the Office of Professional and Career Development, where she says a personality test helped her realize what a people person she is. “I’m interested in everything from creative writing to sports marketing, and now I know I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I like finance, but it doesn’t motivate me, so I chose to focus on something that does.”

Her disciplined routine includes sitting in the same chair outside the same building every day to study for a few hours so she does not have to read after practice when she feels tired. She also prioritizes the most important tasks and does them first and makes time for exercise outside of practice when she starts to feel overwhelmed.

“College can be stressful and I’m sure work will be, too,” Thomas says. “But, I’m making a really conscious effort to pursue what I love and the rest of it – for me, anyway – just falls into place. Having a little help here and there doesn’t hurt either.”

Released: 8/25/2011
Source: Wake Forest University

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/back-to-school-of-back-to-burnout

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