16 May 2023

How To Deal With Burnout During Exam Season

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You’ve worked hard for months. Grinding away at those revision notes, following the rulebook to a tee. You’ve used the apps, rattled through a ton of past papers. And read just about every blog on the internet telling you how it’s meant to be done. 

Whether you’re a planner or a last minute crammer, exam season is tough. And while it’s tempting to overdo it, you’ll want to pace yourself to avoid burnout. 

Feeling tired and overwhelmed? Follow these steps to get your body into full swing again.

Make sure you sleep

Sleeping is like breathing. We need it to function. Yet during exams, we tend to neglect our beauty sleep, trading it with late night study sessions instead. That’s a no-no. 

Our brains need sleep to rest and recharge. Sleeping is crucial for memory and retaining information. So depriving yourself could lead to forgetfulness. Which you certainly don’t want.

If you’re a night owl and struggle getting to sleep at a reasonable hour, try:

  • Reading a book
  • Having a warm bath
  • Lighting a few candles
  • Listening to calm, instrumental music
  • Putting your smartphone/laptop away an hour before bed to avoid blue light stimulation.

Write your worries down

We all have worries – especially in the run up to exams. And that’s okay. Exams are a big deal, and everyone gets nervous before them. However, we mustn’t let those nerves rule our life. 

If you’re feeling anxious, write your worries down using the stressor / solution technique. This will help you process your thoughts and make it easier to work through them one by one.

For example:

Stressor: “I don’t understand this module.”

Solution: “I’ll speak to my professor to see if they can go over it again with me.”

The quicker you catch your worries, the faster you’ll be able to resolve them. And give your mind the space it needs to acquire new information.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a kind of meditation that teaches you to find stillness in the here and now. It uses a series of breathing exercises to eliminate negativity and slow down your racing thoughts. 

To practice mindfulness, find a quiet place that’s free of distractions. Next, set a timer to keep track of how long you’re meditating. Start your day with a five-minute session. Once experienced, you can always extend it.

Here are some tips to get you going on your meditation journey: 

  • Sit upright on a chair or cross-legged on the floor
  • Close your eyes, inhaling and exhaling through your nose and mouth
  • Take note of your surroundings, the smell of the air and the sounds outside
  • Embrace your thoughts, whatever they may be. And let them pass you by.

If you prefer guided meditation, download the Calm or Headspace app where you’ll get free exercises that’ll help you manage your feelings, so you can stay focused throughout the day.

Mindfulness can do wonders for your mental health

Work smarter, not harder

That’s not to say you should throw your feet up and go on revision strike altogether. Or work ten hours straight with no breaks either. To make the most of your studying, you need balance. And a fair bit of planning too.

For example:

  • Make a list of all the topics you need to revise
  • Divide your list into two categories: urgent and important 
  • Create a revision timetable, and start your day by tackling your urgent list first
  • Highlight key facts and summarise them on post-it notes after your revision session.

Working smarter reduces burnout as you’re not cramming information. Instead, you’re breaking your work down into smaller chunks and letting it sink in more naturally.

Want to be more productive?

Find out how you can study effectively for your university exams.

Be kind to yourself

Life is busy – that sometimes it’s hard to put ourselves first. We tend to overcommit and feel that if we push ourselves just that bit more, everything will fall into place.

To a degree, but not quite.

It’s the small things that count. So next time you’re in front of your laptop, staring blankly at your screen, wondering how on earth you’re going to push out a 5,000 to 8,000 word dissertation by the end of the month, stop what you’re doing and go for a walk.


  • Call a friend
  • Take some photos
  • Order a takeaway.

Invest in YOU. YOU deserve it.

Good luck!