Avoiding burnout as a grad student during COVID-19

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

We’ve all had our lives altered by the Covid-19 pandemic without a doubt.

The world came to a standstill during the early months of this pandemic forcing almost every social engagement, except for the healthcare sector, to be done from home. Now, virtual reality has taken a hold and we all seem to be becoming experts at this.

If you are undertaking your studies at the moment or planning to start in the next academic year, chances are that COVID-19 may still be around and you will being completing your studies online. Whatever the case, the new virtual world has brought about its own challenges, such as burnout. Here are some ways you can beat the blues and burnout:

#1. During the early months of COVID-19, I was overwhelmed by the lock down. With increasing restrictions and no end in sight of the pandemic, it was a lot to process.

Following my usual schedule of getting up early and planning my day as normal helped me have a sense of purpose, time and space. I did my studies as I normally did pre-pandemic, attended synchronous online classes and followed with the asynchronous classes in my spare time.

Now I feel like a pro at online learning. I can’t believe I am saying this, but yes I like the fact that I am not rushing to get on the next subway train to St. George station (which is located beneath OISE's building).

#2 Now that I have gotten used to my COVID-19 schedule, other things that I enjoyed during pre-pandemic are also being taken care of. Engaging in regular physical activity has been an effective outlet for me during this time. You don't have to go to a gym or have intense workouts - short walks around your neighborhood or even simple exercise routines can help to clear your brain fog and boost your mood. Ideally, if you want to stay on top of your studies and work, I find that this will reduce burnout.

#3 Let’s face it - remote learning is not equal to in-person learning. You are expected to be self-directed and some of you may miss the interactions you would have had with your peers, but remember your health and well-being is priority at OISE.

You can make similar, if not lasting, connections with your peers online through OISE supported platforms or mainstream social media. Do not let the blues and fatigue of COVID-19 get to you. Connecting with your peers and collaborating on your projects is achievable, just don’t let the current situation overtake you.

#4 Lastly, this is not a marathon. Take a day or time off weekly for “me time” and see if that helps to manage the stresses of COVID-19. I know this has helped me a lot personally. Taking a day off helps me to refresh my energy. Physical activity can also be a tool to help you manage your stress.