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The Wellness Project

» Academic & Professional Comparison and Burnout

Navigate through the tabs below to learn about how intellectual and occupational wellness can be impacted by burnout and comparisons with others.

The burnout and comparison exhibits created by our peer educators and graphic designers will be on display in the Student Union on Monday, March 16 through Wednesday, March 18 from 11am - 3pm.

  • Academic & Professional Burnout Exhibit
  • Comparison Exhibit
  • Intellectual Wellness
  • Occupational Wellness
  • Resources
  • Our burnout exhibit contains eight banners describing how burnout is experienced in academic and professional domains. Each banner has a QR code you can scan to listen to a student sharing their story of how they experienced burnout, where they sought help, and what they did as self-care to prevent it from happening in the future. 

    Listen to the audio clips below to engage with our exhibit or listen to them on your own time. 

    FEELING: What does burnout feel like?

    I look at the homework I have to do and I just get so overwhelmed, I have so little motivation to do any of it. When I get up in the morning to go to class I find myself asking “what’s the point?” I’m so tired and barely have enough energy to get through the day.

    Feeling unmotivated or incapable of completing tasks can be symptoms of burnout.

    I’ve started to really dislike the idea of going into work. I’ll show up late sometimes because it takes so much effort to convince myself to go. Even when I’m there, my mind is always somewhere else. It’s so hard to focus when it feels like what I’m doing doesn’t matter. Many days I end up leaving with a headache and I’m in a bad mood.

    Developing negative feelings towards work and feeling useless can signal burnout.

    IMPACT: How does burnout impact different parts of my life?

    My grades have been slipping and I feel awful about myself. I haven’t called my parents in so long, I know they’ll ask me how school is going and I’m too embarrassed to tell them what a failure I am. When I get home in the evenings, all I want to do is be alone. I end up stress eating so much which makes me feel even worse. I don’t make much of an effort to hang out with friends because I don’t feel like I deserve to go out.

    Burnout can lead to isolation and lowered self-esteem making it difficult to maintain relationships with others.

    My supervisor met with me and said he noticed I haven’t been putting out my best quality of work recently. He says I can do better but I don’t believe him. He’s a nice guy and I feel bad for disappointing him. Sometimes I’ll end up skipping class after work because I just don’t have the energy to go. Some of my friends have pointed out that I seem to be kind of quiet lately. They have stopped asking me to hang out as much and I can’t blame them.

    Burnout can leave us feeling drained which makes it difficult to attend to other responsibilities.

    GUIDANCE: Who can I go to for help?

    My friend has a huge courseload and I don’t know how she deals with it. I asked her about it and she told me that she has actually struggled with feeling burnt out too. Hearing about her experience gave me confidence that I can get through this. I’ve visited the tutoring center and they’ve been able to give me some tips on how to break up my homework so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. I also talked to my favorite professor and told him what I’m feeling. He reminded me how far I’ve come and how much impact I’ll make in the future once I graduate which helped me get some of my motivation back.

    Burnout is a common issue and there are many people who understand what you’re going through.

    I’ve pushed myself to talk more with my coworkers. I’ve actually found a couple of them that I have a lot in common with, and chatting with them during my shift puts me in a much better mood. I let my supervisor know I’ve been feeling pretty exhausted and we worked together to take a few things off my plate right now which has been so helpful. I also have asked my dad for his advice. He had a job while he was in college too and has been so understanding and willing to listen.

    Being honest about your needs is not selfish. Open communication allows others to help you in more beneficial ways.

    PREVENTION: What can I do for self-care to prevent future burnout?

    I’ve started practicing a nighttime routine to help me wind down so I can get a good night’s sleep. Instead of scrolling through social media, I relax with a book so my eyes can get a break from technology before bed. I’ve incorporated yoga into my week as well, it’s been a time for me to destress and remind myself that there’s more to my life than just school. I also set aside some time every Sunday to look ahead at what I have to do for each of my classes that upcoming week. I write it all down in my planner and decide when I’m going to work on what. Having a plan of attack makes me feel confident.

    Finding an organizational strategy that works for you can help prevent feeling overwhelmed. Make sure you’re ready to focus by prioritizing sleep.

    I’ve been working on saying no more often and setting boundaries. If I’m asked to take on something at work I don’t feel like I can handle, I’ll be honest and say I can’t help with that at this time. I try to keep my evenings free on days I have long shifts so I’ll have time to decompress. I let my friends know what days I can’t hang out and what days work better. Every time I leave work, I take a second to reflect on something I did that day that I’m proud of accomplishing. It helps me feel more positive and capable.

    Developing a sense of purpose and looking for meaning in your work can help combat burnout.

  • Our academic and professional comparison exhibit is comprised of a video depicting the common ways we compare ourselves to others in these dimensions and how it impacts our perception of success.

    Video Coming Soon!

    What is academic and professional comparison?

    The tendency judge your success in school or in your professional development by comparing yourself to others.

    Why should I care?

    Comparing yourself to others can make it harder for you to recognize your own successes. It’s important to remember that everyone has different strengths and challenges, and everyone has a different path in life. The right decision for your friend might not be the right decision for you.

    How can I stop comparing myself to others?

    • Remember that you can’t accurately make comparisons based on social media or by knowing someone as an acquaintance.
    • Ask yourself, "What is the next step for ME? What are my goals?"
    • Find reasons to feel proud of your current self.

    Am I doing enough?

    If your friends seem busier than you are, you might feel like you aren't doing enough. This is a form of academic and professional comparison, too.

    Is busyness always a good thing?

    Not always. When you are extremely busy, you may find that you can’t invest as much energy into anything. Being too busy can make it hard to pursue a healthy work/school/life balance.

    How can I avoid being too busy?

    Remind yourself that it's okay to say no. When asked to take on an extra responsibility or to attend a social event, ask yourself, “What is most important to me right now?” This way, you can control your schedule and avoid putting too much on your plate. Saving time to relax can even help you be more focused and productive.

  • What is intellectual wellness?

    Maintaining a sense of curiosity and excitement for learning, being open to new ideas, engaging in critical thinking, and keeping your mind sharp through intellectually challenging activities.

    How will this help me after college?

    Knowledge goes beyond what's taught in the classroom. It is anything that invigorates the mind, such as conversations, life challenges, art, books, and puzzles. Adults who are regularly challenged to use their creativity and problem solving skills have reduced risk of cognitive decline as they age. Intellectual wellness may also be improved through effective stress-management and emotional coping skills.

    What can I do to improve this outside of class?

    Make small changes, such as reading or listening to a podcast instead of scrolling social media. You can also challenge yourself and your friends by learning a new skill or playing a board or card game. Finally, working on your time management skills and staying organized allows your mind to work more efficiently and effectively.

  • What is occupational wellness?

    The feeling of purpose, productivity, and personal satisfaction in our chosen professions. The ability to effectively pursue professional development and career goals to improve performance, professional interactions, and overall success.

    What does this look like?

    • Engaging in motivating and interesting work 
    • Understanding how to balance your work with leisure time
    • Working in a way that fits your personal learning style
    • Communicating and collaborating with others
    • Feeling confident performing independent tasks
    • Feeling inspired, challenged, and accomplished at work

    What can I do now before I start my career?

    Start by setting your professional goals and increasing your skills in that area. Stay motivated! The steps to your success will push and challenge you, and that's okay. Find a mentor or reach out to on-campus resources such as the Career Center. Finally, commit to a work-life balance. Find a job you enjoy, but know when to turn work off and enjoy everything else life has to offer.

  • Academic Advising Center

    Serves as an advising, information, resource and referral center for students needing current information about general education, degree requirements, and academic policies.

    (714) 744-7959

    Career and Professional Development Center

    The center is here to assist you in all of your professional endeavors. Career support and resources are free and available to you beyond graduation!

    (714) 997-6942


    Center for Undergraduate Excellence

    Promotes and supports opportunities for collaborative research, scholarship, and creative activities. 

    (714) 628-2852


    Promising Futures Program

    Supports first generation college students.


    Student Employment Services

    Provides on-campus job opportunities to students.

    (714) 997-6674

    Tutoring, Learning, and Testing Center

    Offers a variety of tutoring and testing services to help you succeed.

    (714) 997-6828