Stress vs Burnout: How to recognise the signs and what to do if you burn out?



Experiencing stress during an exam period is completely normal and common! It’s something everyone experiences, and it might be hard to remind yourself how normal it is – Stress is the feeling of ‘too much’ and often appears that there is simply too much pressure to manage. This can apply to the majority or all aspects of your life, and it can be in terms of both mental and physical wellbeing.

The feeling of being burnt out is the opposite to that of stress, as it’s the feeling of ‘not enough’, it feels as though you’re not getting enough done and that you lack physical and mental strength to complete something. You may often struggle to see a point in trying to complete something.

The signs of burn out are gradual, they do replicate stress and can be easily dismissed but addressing them physically and mentally as you go on can prevent them and reduce the effects of them. The signs of burnouts are:

  1. Exhaustion/ fatigue
  2. Reduced concentration
  3. Increased forgetfulness
  4. Headaches
  5. Dizziness
  6. Shortness of breath
  7. Increased anxiety
  8. Disconnecting from things/people and apathy
  9. Feeling of hopelessness
  10. Losing interest in other aspects of your life, a diminished pride in work
  11. Muscle tension or pain
  12. Frustration or irritability with yourself or others

These signs can lead to long term effects and can take years to recover from! If stress comes from many singular factors, they may be manageable on their own, but the combo of them all together can overwhelm you if you don’t seek support.

Long terms effects include:

  1. A negative working/studying experience
  2. A reduced interest in hobbies
  3. An increased risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression and suicide

Of course, we would never want it to get to any extent like above, so it’s really important to listen to your body and mind during these stressful times! Here are tips for if you do experience burn out:

  1. Find the source
  2. What are immediate changes you can make?
  3. Talk to trustworthy people or even your campus Welfare and Equality officer/ one of our officers
  4. Examine your options going forward
  5. Take back control by delegating workload and prioritizing what needs to be done
  6. Set boundaries by taking time for yourself (check out our article on mental and physical health during exam season)
  7. Practice self-compassion such as not being too hard on yourself and or even taking time for yourselves in our quiet rooms based on each campus
  8. Pay attention to your needs
  9. Remember what makes you happy
  10. If you think you need additional help, get in contact with your college counsellor, their details are listed below:

Tallaght Campus:

Health Centre – / 01 220 7739

Counselling –

Blanchardstown Campus:

Health Centre – / 087 188 1336

Counselling –

City Campus:

Health Centre – / 01 220 5700

Counselling – / 086 0820543


Of course, exams are important, but they do not define YOU! We also have articles based on our exams and other options or routes you can take, be sure to check them out. We at TUDSU wish you the very best of luck and are here to support you!

Abbie Nulty
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