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  • Writer's pictureLola Objois

High School Burnout: How to Spot It and Stop It in Its Tracks

As your high school student navigates the challenges of academics, extracurricular activities, and social life, it's important to keep an eye out for signs of burnout. Burnout is a serious issue that can affect students' physical and mental health, as well as their academic performance and overall well-being.

In this blog post, we'll discuss how to tell if your student is burnt out, and more importantly, how you can help them get back on track. We'll cover common signs of burnout in high school students, as well as some of the main causes and prevention strategies. By the end of this post, you'll have a better understanding of what burnout looks like, and how you can support your student in avoiding or recovering from it.

Signs of Burnout in Students

Before we dive into how to help your student, let's take a moment to talk about what burnout actually is. Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that can result from chronic stress and overwhelm. In the context of high school, burnout often stems from academic pressure, extracurricular demands, and social stressors.

So, how can you tell if your student is burnt out? Some common signs include a lack of motivation or enthusiasm for activities they used to enjoy, increased irritability or moodiness, and physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, or difficulty sleeping. Your student may also seem disengaged or withdrawn, or have a noticeable drop in their academic performance. It's important to note that burnout can manifest differently in every individual, and that some students may hide their symptoms or not realize they are experiencing burnout. Throughout this post, we'll provide examples and anecdotes to illustrate these signs and help you identify them in your own student.

Causes of Burnout in Students

Now that we've identified some of the signs of burnout in high school students, let's explore some of the common causes. Academic pressure is often a significant factor, with students feeling overwhelmed by the demands of their coursework and the pressure to excel. In addition, extracurricular activities and social stressors can also contribute to burnout, as students try to balance competing demands on their time and energy.

These factors can lead to burnout because they create a constant state of stress and exhaustion, without sufficient opportunities for rest and recovery. Over time, this can take a toll on students' physical and mental health, as well as their ability to perform well in school and enjoy other aspects of their lives. It's important to address these causes of burnout in order to help students build resilience, prioritize self-care, and develop healthy coping strategies for managing stress. In the next section, we'll explore some practical ways you can help your student if you suspect they are burnt out.

How to Help a Burnt-Out Student

If you suspect your high school student is burnt out, there are several practical strategies you can try to help them recover and avoid burnout in the future. The first step is to encourage rest and relaxation, even if it means taking a break from extracurricular activities or reducing academic expectations temporarily. Encourage your student to take a weekend off and spend time with friends and family.This can help your student recharge and build resilience for the challenges ahead.

Another strategy is to help your student with time management and organization, which can reduce feelings of overwhelm and make it easier to prioritize self-care. You might consider helping your student create a schedule that includes dedicated time for relaxation, exercise, and other forms of self-care.

If your student's burnout symptoms persist or seem severe, it may be necessary to seek professional support from a therapist, counselor, or other mental health professional. Don't hesitate to reach out to your student's school guidance counselor or primary care physician for advice and referrals.

As a parent, it's also important to model healthy habits and prioritize your own self-care, so that your student sees the importance of these practices in action. Consider making time for your own hobbies and interests, practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, and seeking support from your own network if you're feeling overwhelmed.

By taking these steps, you can help your high school student recover from burnout and build the skills and resilience they need to thrive academically, socially, and personally. Remember, it's never too late to prioritize self-care and seek support when you need it.

Prevention of Burnout in Students

Preventing burnout is always easier than treating it, so it's important for parents to take proactive steps to promote balance, self-care, and open communication with their high school student. One key strategy is to set realistic expectations for academic performance and extracurricular involvement, based on your student's individual needs and interests. Some students are able to juggle four AP courses, being captain of the varsity soccer team, and volunteering; some students do a lot better with just two APs and playing on the JV team.

Encouraging balance and self-care is also essential for preventing burnout. You might consider modeling healthy habits like regular exercise, stress-reducing hobbies, and spending quality time with family and friends. Make sure your student has ample time for rest and relaxation, and prioritize open communication so that your student feels comfortable sharing their feelings and concerns with you.

It's also important to be aware of your student's social and emotional needs, and to provide support and resources as needed. For example, you might consider connecting your student with peer support groups, mental health professionals, or other resources that can help them manage stress and build resilience.

Remember, preventing burnout requires ongoing effort and attention, so make sure to check in with your student regularly and adjust your approach as needed. By prioritizing balance, self-care, and open communication, you can help your high school student thrive academically, socially, and personally, and avoid burnout in the process.

In summary, burnout is a serious problem that can have significant consequences for high school students. By recognizing the signs of burnout, understanding the causes, and taking proactive steps to prevent and address it, parents can help their students thrive academically, socially, and personally.

Remember to encourage rest and relaxation, help with time management, and seek professional support if necessary. Prioritize balance, self-care, and open communication in your family, and model healthy habits for your student. And most importantly, stay vigilant for signs of burnout, so that you can take action as soon as possible.

As a parent, you have a vital role to play in supporting your high school student's well-being and helping them avoid burnout. By taking these steps, you can help your student build resilience, achieve their goals, and lead a fulfilling life both in and out of the classroom.

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