Staying Mentally Healthy, Maintaining Motivation and Preventing Burnout

For many, high school can be an extremely stressful period. Especially as you progress to Year 11 and 12, increased workload, more assessments and exams, pressure to do well as well as uncertainty about the future can make you feel overwhelmed, anxious and tired. Maintaining your health and wellbeing is your absolute number one priority which is also essential in supporting you to stay focused, motivated and prevent burnout. But how do you stay mentally and physically healthy while juggling school and other commitments? Below are some helpful things to practice and keep in mind.

  • Set goals

Set goals for yourself. These are the things that you personally want to achieve. This can be short term goals (something you want to accomplish soon) or even long term goals (something you would like to gradually work towards to accomplish further into the future). Having goals for yourself is a good way to allow yourself to recognise any of your aspirations and hopes for the future and what you would like to achieve. This can help you to stay motivated by shifting your focus on to things that you prioritise or find valuable, whilst offering a roadmap to where you want to be. 

  • Eating healthy, drinking lots of water and exercising regularly

While this may be common sense, many tend to forget the importance of eating healthy, staying hydrated and exercising. From my personal experience, I was one of these people. But I took a step back and realised how important it was for me to alter my routine in order to make some time to stay physically active and healthy. After this change, I felt more motivated to study as I was in a better and healthier mental state. So remember to take care of yourself – this could be as simple as going on short walks for 10-20 minutes a day!

  • Get enough sleep

Again, this is probably something you have heard millions of times. However, please do not discount the importance of sleep. You should be getting a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep a day. PLEASE do not pull all-nighters everyday to study, especially the night before an exam. Your brain won’t be able to retain any information in the morning or even concentrate during the exam as you will be mentally exhausted and tired. No matter how much I felt unprepared for my exam, I would always force myself to go to bed early in order to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep. On the day of my exam, I was in a better mindset to do my exam and just tried my best to do what I could. So please don’t feel the need to stay up super late and sacrifice your sleep to study – it isn’t worth it. You are probably putting yourself at risk of burnout even before you get the chance to take your exams. 

  • Take breaks and having a schedule/plan

Alongside getting enough sleep, it is so important for you to take frequent breaks in between when studying or completing homework. Try to avoid studying in one go such as for 3 hours with no breaks – obviously this isn’t effective and can lead to burnout very quickly. Generally, my study routine consists of me studying for 1 hour blocks with 10-15 minute breaks in between and this works really well for me personally. Many students also use the ‘Pomodoro Technique’ which involves studying for 25 minute chunks with 5-10 minutes in between. Try to figure out what works best for you. Having a schedule or plan is also useful to help you stay on track and focused.

  • Make time for other activities outside of school

Remember to make some time to engage in other activities that you enjoy. It is so important to maintain a balance between schoolwork and your personal life in order to avoid burnout. By taking a break from school and spending your time participating in leisure activities or things that you enjoy, you may also feel more motivated to continue with studying the next day.

  • Choose one study-free day for the week 

Having at least one whole day of the week where I didn’t study at all was something that was so helpful for me to stay motivated and avoid burnout. I highly recommend doing this. Choose any day of the week (most likely a Saturday or Sunday) where you do absolutely nothing related to school. While yes, you may have a lot of school work to do or catch up on, remember that your mental health and wellbeing is your number one priority so don’t feel guilty if you don’t study at all for one whole day.

  • Ask for help when you need it

If you are struggling to cope with school and are feeling overwhelmed or burnout, please don’t be afraid to ask for help! Talking to someone who you trust can provide you with an outlet to express your feelings and emotions. Someone may be able to support you to find solutions or ways to manage your problem such as stress. Remember that you are not alone – many other students are probably experiencing what you are going through. 


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