Avoiding Faculty Burnout

Decorative: A sequence of matches from an unlit one to a minimally burned matched through more extensively burned matches to a fully burned match


"4 Ideas for Avoiding Faculty Burnout" (post) outlines the prevalence of symptoms of burnout in academic life and offers four general suggestions to "mak[e] it through the semester."

1. "Take time off, if only for an evening." 

  • "You would be better able to write that paragraph after a good night’s sleep."
  • "[E]mails from students ... can definitely wait till morning."

2. "Remember that your job is a job — even if you love it." 

  • "[T]he more you identify yourself with your institution, the more stressful your job will be."
  • "Do your best to cultivate perspective — and outside interests."
  • "Just because you love your work doesn’t mean it’s the be-all and end-all of your existence."
  • "You are more than your job."

3. "Find ways to say no." 

  • "[T]here are only so many hours in a week, and you’ve already got that mountain of papers to grade."
  • "'[E]xtra-role behavior' at work "can significantly contribute to workplace stress, and ... academic workplaces, in particular, depend on that kind of behavior."
  • "Take a hard look at your work commitments, both formal and informal, and ask yourself if you absolutely have to do all of them."

4. "Choose sleep over extra class-prep time." 

  • "What is going to be more valuable to your students — that you went over the readings one more time, or that you are rested enough to be fully present and responsive in the classroom?"
  • "All of your capabilities are needed to be a good teacher, and your fully functioning brain is worth far more than your completely worked-out lesson plans."

5. "[D]on’t be afraid to ask for help."

  • "You’ve got friends, family, and colleagues who can help."
  • "Your institution most likely offers support services."
  • "[T]here’s no benefit to running yourself into the ground."
  • "Let people around you know when you’re feeling low, and offer words of understanding and support when you see colleagues struggling to balance it all."
  • "Share your burden and it will start to feel lighter."
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