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I Will Survive! 5 Ways to avoid burnout (the CSD Way)

Have you already heard the phrase, “Ugh, I am SO done with this semester!” this year?

It IS the third week of school, right?
I digress.

Communication sciences disorders (CDS) majors, I’m lookin’ at you. One of our many strengths is how strongly we value academic success, and the lengths we will go to to achieve that. The moment I enter the halls of Fairchild, I know with 100 percent certainty that I will find a project group in the waiting room, a study group in the third floor hallway, and at least one, “What did you get for this problem?” And that’s awesome. Go us.

However, I think we all know first-hand how tiring that can get, especially as the semester picks up. This is what I like to call “burnout”, or as the Merriam Webster defines it, “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.? Sound familiar?

So, what can we do to combat this? WELL, do I have the article for you! Here are the top five things that I know have worked for me to avoid burnout!

1. PLAN IT OUT – I am a firm believer in planners/calendars/journals/whatever it takes to organize yo’ life. I’ve even gone so far as to make a homework calendar, where I make a list of the due dates for all of my classes for the duration of the semester, and subsequently balance out my weeks so that everything gets done in equal proportions. Planning SAVES LIVES.

2. Log off! – I will be the first to admit that I am addicted to my phone. I mean, why wouldn’t you be – you have the entire world in your pocket! However, something that has proven time and time again to get me to be productive is unplugging from the Internet. It is extremely freeing when you don’t have the constant stimulation of the outside world demanding your attention. This even extends to class as well! I don’t care HOW much you think you have self-control, if you get that little *ding* notification that your friend Bethany texted you about this weekend, you are no longer paying attention to how cerebrospinal fluid flows through the circulatory and nervous systems. So, I would challenge you to take handwritten notes during class, as research has shown that doing this helps you retain information much better than typing notes. I promise, Bethany will STILL be there at 11:50.

3. Start studying ASAP – I would probably be a millionaire if I had a dollar for the amount of times I have waited until the night before a test to start studying for it. And let me tell you, from experience, it’s really, really not a good strategy. Think about it – you are cramming in weeks of information into one study session at the very last minute, which causes mass amounts of stress, which causes you to not retain information as well, which causes a snowball effect that results in poor test performance. So, why not put in a little bit of work now and save yourself all of this pain later? If you’re lucky enough to have a teacher who will give you a unit/semester study guide at the beginning of the semester, RUN WITH IT. Review this sheet after every class, answer the questions you know you have covered during lecture, and if you need clarification, PLEASE ASK YOUR PROFESSOR. At ISU, we are incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful faculty of extremely knowledgeable, caring, and helpful educators. They have so much experience in the field of CSD, so why not take advantage of their expertise and learn first-hand? Bottom line – if you are unsure about a piece of lecture material, be proactive! There is nothing worse than getting to a few days before the test and it having any ideas what’s going on.

4. Take 30 minutes a day to zen out/work out – I very much believe that if you are in a good physical/emotional place, you will also be in a good academic place as well. I mean, don’t you feel like you can take on the world after you workout? Take 30 minutes out of every day to unplug, remove yourself from your stressors, and do something that you absolutely, unequivocally LOVE. Go on a drive and blast that new Ed Sheeran album (I know I have), journal about your day, read a book, go on a run, or just sit quietly on the quad and take in the beauty of nature. I can’t tell you how important this is because if these areas of your life are in place, your academic success will flourish.

5. Remember why you started! – It can be so easy to get caught up in the details of which phoneme is a voiced palatal affricate (it’s a dʒ, thank you, Dr. Harbers), or how to identify exactly which cranial nerves serve for speech production. But, when you are an audiologist or a speech-language pathologist, these details won’t make you want to come into work that day. I guarantee that you won’t wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “Oh golly, I can’t wait to find Mr. Jones’ hearing threshold so I can fit him for a hearing aid!” But, I know that you will think, “Wow, I can’t wait to give someone the gift of hearing today.”, or “Wow, I can’t wait to give a child an AAC so that they can finally communicate with their family.” So, when you feel like you are getting bogged down by the details, go watch a video of an infant hearing for the first time. Go observe a therapy session. Sit down with yourself and write down what made you fall in love with this career, and never forget it.

So, there you go! I really hope you enjoyed my top 5 ways to avoid burnout, and if you did, make sure to share it with a fellow CSD major, colleague, or someone looking into these two wonderful fields. You are so capable, you future CCC-SLP or AuD, you. Now, go and show the world what you’re made of!

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