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Recognizing and Addressing Burnout in Young People

As this April is Stress Awareness Month, we want to be a part of the conversation on stress and burnout in young people and how we can support them. In our fast-paced world, young people are facing pressures from all angles - academics, extracurricular activities, social commitments, and increasingly, the online world. This can lead to burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Parents and teachers must recognize the signs of burnout in young people and take steps to address and prevent it. Here's how.

Signs of Burnout in Young People:

Chronic Fatigue: Persistent tiredness or feelings of energy depletion, even after resting.

Decreased Performance: Noticeable decline in school or extracurricular performance.

Disengagement: Withdrawal from social activities, school, or family.

Mood Changes: Increased irritability, feelings of defeat, or cynicism related to their responsibilities.

Physical Symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, or changes in appetite can be signs of stress-related burnout.

Why is it important to recognize the signs of burnout?

Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

The primary difference between stress and burnout is that while stress typically involves too much pressure that demands too much of you physically and psychologically, burnout is about feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing stress know that if they can just get everything under control, they'll feel better, but burnout means feeling like you're at the end of your rope.

Addressing Burnout:

For Parents/Carers/Guardians:

Open Dialogue: Create an environment where feelings of stress can be openly discussed. Ask open-ended questions to encourage your child to express their feelings.

Prioritize Rest: Ensure your child has a healthy sleep schedule and encourage breaks and downtime.

Support, Don’t Push: Offer support for their efforts rather than focusing solely on achievements. Recognize the effort put into tasks, not just the outcome.

For Teachers/Youth Professionals:

Recognize Changes: Be vigilant about changes in a student’s behavior or performance. These could be early signs of stress or burnout.

Reduce Pressure: Where possible, offer flexibility with deadlines or provide additional support to students showing signs of stress.

Promote a Supportive Environment: Encourage a classroom culture where students feel they can share their stressors without judgment.

Preventing Burnout:

Teach Time Management: Help young people develop effective time management skills, including setting realistic goals, prioritizing tasks, and taking regular breaks.

Encourage Healthy Habits: Promote physical activity, balanced nutrition, and mindfulness practices as tools for managing stress.

Set an Example: Model healthy work-life balance and stress management techniques in your own life.

Know When to Seek Professional Help: Recognize when professional help is needed. Persistent signs of burnout may require support from a counsellor or mental health professional.

Burnout can significantly impact a young person's well-being and their view towards school and life. By recognizing the signs early, and taking proactive steps to address and prevent it, parents and teachers can help young people navigate their challenges more effectively, fostering resilience and a more balanced approach to their responsibilities and pressures. Let's work together to support the mental health and well-being of our young people.

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Understanding Stress and Anxiety in Young People

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