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24th May 2022

Agony Aunt Angela: Beyond burnt out with no help

Life getting a bit overwhelming? See what Aunt Angela advises
Agony Aunt Angela: Beyond burnt out with no help
Photo: Erin Botten @ The Mancunion

“I’ve had a terrible past few months with getting my room broken into, phone stolen and other really stressful experiences. On top of that, there’s the amount of uni work I have…

I’ve seemed to have reached a new burnout level. I don’t do self-care, break days or vacations. Nothing seems to be able to get me out of this funk! Any advice would be appreciated.”

When I was in my youth (many decades ago), I experienced the exact same thing. Everything feels like it’s falling on top of you; swallowing you whole. It’s horrible, but there are ways to overcome it.

Firstly, confide in people. Vent, cry, ramble … just shift the silent weight off your shoulders. Do it with people you’re comfortable with, and not just some underpaid bartender or tinder date.

Boy/girlfriends, housemates, therapists, uni advisors, and close friends are great candidates for this. Undoubtedly they’ll offer advice whether you want it or not, but the main aim here is to just lighten the burden you feel. It also means you know you’re supported and not facing anything alone.

If you don’t feel like wailing to friends with a bottle of wine, channel your inner Karen. By that I mean do some low-intensity exercise. Zumba, dance fit, yoga, pilates – anything you can imagine your mum doing. Low-intensity workouts loosen muscles you don’t realise are bunched up.

For me when I’m stressed, my shoulders will be hunched up all day. It’s not until I do some yoga before bed that I’m able to reset that, helping me ease some of the stress I’ve been carrying.

There are tonnes of classes out there that you can go to to work out. Ladybarn and Withington have a few, and so does UoM. Throughout the exam season the yoga society and the SU is putting on events around campus. They’re an hour long, meaning you can take a study break without feeling like you’re wasting time.

Alternatively, do it in your room at a time that suits you. When I’ve been hunched over knitting for a long time, I’ll do a quick sesh to feel better. There are loads of stretches on Instagram and TikTok that work wonders.

A less Karen-y move is making a timetable. Yes, everyone suggests this, but tailor it to work for you. Make one online, or design/draw one yourself. Write down what needs to be done and by when, and slowly plan out your week.

Each day is like a to-do list, with small approachable tasks. Not every hour needs to be filled (allowing for flexibility), but it means you know what you’re day will look like. You can use it as an opportunity mix up where you’re going to study. Maybe check out the Lime Cafe or the computer cluster in Uni.

Schedule in time for dinner, and what you’re going to make, with only an hour of study after. By 9pm, the night is yours. No ifs, no buts.

Finally, create your own self care. Self care is portrayed as sheet masks and candles online, which is just a capitalist approach to get you to buy quick fixes. My self care includes TV shows (currently The Walking Dead), taking the stairs instead of the lift (gotta get them steps!), FaceTiming my mum, and eating fruit. Easy enjoyable distractions which don’t involve buying anything.

Overall though I think you need to remember the end is in sight. The burnout you feel isn’t forever. Emotions are temporary and forever changing, and always striving for tranquil happiness is unrealistic. When you feel overwhelmed and stuck in a funk, take a step back momentarily. There’s always help available when you need it.



Aunt Angela x

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