How to Help Your High Schooler Manage Year-End Burnout
For high schoolers managing classes, extracurriculars, college applications, family responsibilities, jobs, and more, it can be easy to get burnt out. Everyone, even adults, can find themselves spread out too thin sometimes, and high schoolers are certainly no exception.
However, the difference between adults and students in these situations is that adults usually have more experience and understanding of their own needs— this makes it a lot easier to get back on track when an adult senses that they might be getting burnt out.
For high schoolers, it can be often be hard to know what to do at first. This is why it’s important as a parent to set a good example early on and teach young students how to cope with burnout. Encouraging your child to have healthy habits, set long term goals, and schedule in time to relax are all ways you can ease some of the strain of burnout and encourage your child to live a more balanced and productive lifestyle.
Keep reading for more detailed advice on how to help your high schooler with burnout!
What is Burnout?
It’s happened to all of us at one point — if you end up taking on too much responsibility or getting too busy, you will eventually find yourself so stressed out that you are not able to function as well or as healthily. Burnout might also arise from social issues, which are common for high schoolers who are just trying to fit in and find their way.
Burnout could happen as a reaction to a traumatic event. This might be something like a death in the family, a serious illness, parents getting divorced, moving houses, or changing schools. It is also possible for burnout to be related or connected to underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety — but only a mental health professional can make this distinction.
Important habits such as eating, sleeping, and exercising regularly might fall to the wayside, and the general quality of your work might go down. You might begin to miss deadlines, forget appointments, or you may just appear disengaged in the day to day. Eventually, you could find yourself too stressed out to think straight — obviously, this isn’t ideal for a busy (and mostly likely already stressed out) high schooler.
It can also be related to the end of the school year — after all, the closer that students get to summer break, the less seriously they will tend take their responsibilities as they are tired from a long academic year. In the months of May and June, most students just want to be done already, and their grades might suffer as a result.
Stay Engaged and Stimulated
One of the best ways to combat burnout is to try to stay engaged and interested in the classroom. It is much easier to get bored or be less motivated in class when you have picked classes or topics that you are not interested in, so be sure to encourage your child to pick classes that they care about during course selection.
Even if the subject material in your child’s courses is more dry than they’d like, you should encourage them to try and find the connection to topics and issues that they are interested in. Encourage your child to remain intellectually engaged outside of school, whether this means reading for fun, working on a creative project, or participating in demanding extracurriculars like academic decathlon.
For more tips on motivating your child academically, take a look at this blog post: Parents: What to Do When Your Teenager Just Isn’t Living Up to Their Potential.
Set Long-Term Goals
It can be hard to stay focused, especially during the end of the school year, but setting goals is a good way to hold yourself accountable and stay on track during those tricky last few weeks. Try having your child think about a GPA that they’d like to reach before the end of the school year. This should be a realistic number that will make it more difficult for them to slack off for fear of not meeting that goal.
You should also be sure that your child understands the ramifications of slacking off or burning out in high school, even for a few weeks. Your GPA can take a negative turn and offset all the hard work you’ve been doing throughout the year.
For freshmen, sophomores and juniors, this can mean hurting your chances of getting into a good college or university. And if you’re a senior in high school (even if you’re in your last month of high school ever), you don’t get off scot-free either. Colleges can rescind your offer of admission if you don’t do as well in your last few months of high school as you did when you were applying for admission. It’s important to keep up your strong academic record until the very end!
Remind your child that, while it might be frustrating, it’s important that they honor all their own hard work and don’t let things slip at the last minute. After all, summer is just around the corner! For more advice on advising your child in academics, take a look at: Parents: How To Get Your High Schooler To Take Academic Responsibility.
Focus on Stress Relief
While burnout can be caused by not doing enough work, it can also be caused by doing too much! It’s not a bad thing to want to take on a lot of responsibilities, but if it gets to be too much to handle then it’s important to remember to care for yourself as well.
Simple things like exercise, doing yoga, deep breathing, meditation, eating well, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep can really go a long way in terms of clearing your head and allowing you to work at your fullest potential — be sure to encourage your child to keep these things in mind.
Also, keep in mind that if you’re taking on too much, you can always try to scale back on some activities and responsibilities. For more advice on determining when it’s time to quit, take a look at:
Managing Extracurriculars: A Guide to Strategic Quitting
Do I Have Too Many Extracurriculars?
Will Quitting an Extracurricular Reflect Poorly on my College Applications?
Schedule Time to Relax
Taking time to relax can be a crucial method to counteract burnout — after taking time to do something fun or refreshing, students will often feel renewed and can focus and do their work more easily.
Encourage your child to do something for themselves like hanging out with friends, going to the park, the beach, eating at their favorite restaurant, seeing a movie, painting, drawing, writing, or playing an instrument. Be sure to mention activities that you think would energize them and allow them to relax and be themselves.
You can also facilitate relaxation as a family—take a family trip to the beach or a theme park, go on vacation or just spend a night out doing something fun! If you’re looking for a less expensive option, consider having a family movie night, cooking pizza together, or going on a hike —you don’t need to bend over backwards, just encourage your child to do something that is unrelated to work or school.
Summing It All Up
It is important to acknowledge that high school and the possible burnout that comes with it is not an easy thing. Students can feel lost, overwhelmed, and unmotivated for a myriad of reasons.
If your child comes to you with an emotional issue or is having trouble focusing in school because of an external factor, you should try to offer them support in the best way you can. You can encourage them to stay motivated and focused, have them set goals for themselves, and try to facilitate relaxation and stress relief methods.
Ultimately, this advice and guidance will teach them how to deal with burnout when they are an adult! No matter what, just be sure to listen to your child and encourage them to seek support when it is necessary.
For more advice on helping your high schooler, take a look at these blog posts:
Being Well: How to Manage Stress & Cultivate Mental Health in High School
How to Address A Mental Health Issue or Disability On Your College Application
Parents: How To Get Your High Schooler To Take Academic Responsibility
Parents: What to Do When Your Teenager Just Isn’t Living Up to Their Potential
Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academics, choosing courses, standardized tests, extracurricular activities, and much more!
Want access to expert college guidance — for free? When you create your free CollegeVine account, you will find out your real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve your profile, and get your questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Sign up for your CollegeVine account today to get a boost on your college journey.