How can I deal with looming burnout as a mature student?
February 18, 2014 2:54 PM Subscribe
I’ve been doing a kind of post-bac for the past couple of years and am in the home stretch, but I’m feeling burned out, given a long commute and care-taking obligations. What can I do to help myself push through?
posted by cotton dress sock to Education (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
For two years straight (all semesters) I’ve been switching between part-time and full-time studies and PT and FT work. Right now I’m just studying FT.
My damnable commute to campus is 3-4 hours round-trip and is my biggest stress. As in, I can barely move when I get home. Unfortunately, I can’t change this for a couple of months – I live where I do so I can afford to study. I’ll be going back to PT study to finish off two courses after this semester, and will be free to work FT without major tuition worries.
Where I live also happens to be far from where friends live, and isolation is part of the picture. (Even if I lived more centrally, I’d be studying most of the time. But I can’t just meet someone spontaneously for a quick drink or coffee, it’s got to be booked way in advance.)
I have also been caring for an older parent, and my responsibilities there have sharply increased over the past few months. Time with the parent not only involves more driving/transit but is also incredibly emotionally draining. I find it hard to switch from the emotional stuff to being productive. I am with this parent most days I’m not on campus, and same thing – I just want to drop at the end of it. I do have help from siblings with related practical matters (which are taken care of), but I am the only one able and willing to spend much time at all with the parent. (I am the person who helps with groceries, cleaning, and medical appointments. Not a lot of money for outside help with this and external resources are pretty much tapped or non-existent.)
I’ve been finding it impossible to get my head where it needs to be in order to do what I have to do. Most of my profs have been incredibly understanding and have offered extensions, but I just can’t seem to put myself in the right place to think clearly. I’ve been procrastinating all over the place (often here on AskMeFi). The idea of going back into the feeling that accompanies writing papers – that high-level alertness, the stress, even the physical postures of writing on a computer [hunching] – is highly aversive. (Writing while referencing various documents in an upright position is different from writing casually while lying on your stomach.)
This is dangerous – if I don’t maintain my 3.9 GPA, all will have been for nought. I’m in my late 30s, and there’s a lot on the line.
I'm still interested in my studies, and enjoy actively participating in classes; I just can't get into productivity mode.
From May, a good chunk of my stress will change for the better. My plan for the year my applications to professional schools go through is to get a job doing absolutely anything that pays enough to move closer to friends, and just relax and enjoy life. I find myself daydreaming about this (on the days I can muster the energy to do that).
I’ve been working on scheduling my time and use the Pomodoro technique with intermittent success. Fixing my eyes on the goal has worked well until now, but it's not enough anymore.
Thoughts are very welcome on anything that might help me better manage my time and emotional resources. Thank you in advance!