Amidst pandemic concerns about students’ mental health and well-being, the good news is, there are strategies and resources available to help them avoid and/or address burnout and exhaustion. Still, they may need help to identify and use them effectively. A key place to start involves understanding the concept of energy management instead of the more common topic of time management. “It’s a totally different concept. You could have all the time in the world but still not have the energy for something, depending on what it is,” said Dr. Stacey Dutil, DSW, LCSW, CASAC, director of counseling and wellness at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in New York. “That’s why people can sit for hours watching YouTube videos because it takes no energy; they waste their time but have no energy to do anything else,” she said.

Dr. Dutil also noted that the converse is often true, where students may have energy but have so many demands on their time that they become overwhelmed.

Breaking out of this cycle can be tough. Another effective starting point for students is to make decisions regarding what truly matters to them. Dr. Dutil advises that students define their priorities and then put most of their energy into those priority areas. That may mean eliminating some activities or commitments, or setting new boundaries in various ways. “There are boundaries you can create in relationships to protect your energy, and then there are boundaries you can create with work, like not saying yes to everything, not over-extending yourself. There is a balance between doing for others and doing too much and neglecting yourself,” she said.

Find out more about Facing Emotional Exhaustion and Depletion, as well as 9 other student topics, in our new 10 Student Mental Health & Well-Being Workshops Training Guide.