There’s a fierce enemy currently threatening to destroy the motivation, energy, and optimism of millions of college students.
This enemy is a great adversary of higher education overall, and if we don’t work to banish it, our students may never be the same.
As the headline of this post may have tipped you off, this notorious enemy is… burnout. In students, it’s a similar concept to senioritis — the phenomenon in which students nearing the end of their studies no longer feel motivated to work towards success inside or outside of the classroom. But, unlike senioritis, burnout can affect students at any time — from their first semester till their last.
And COVID-19 may have only strengthened this collegiate enemy, leading burnout to become its own wide-sweeping pandemic. Hours spent in virtual classrooms, rather than physical ones, may reduce many students’ motivations and lead to “Zoom fatigue.” Reductions in in-person campus activities may zap students of weekly energy boosters.
Even the most exemplary, superstar students are likely experiencing some burnout right now. And by pretending like the monster isn’t there — that burnout isn’t lurking around every corner — we’ll be doing students a major disservice. Just as you’d surely want your supervisor to acknowledge any burnout you’re experiencing, our students need us to do the same.
Our students also need help out of it. They need to learn techniques to manage their daily stressors, establish habits to help them work smarter, and reconnect with their long-term goals in order to reinvigorate their personal motivations.
If you’re not an expert in burnout-reduction, don’t worry! You can still help your students out. I’ve searched the internet far and wide to bring together these resources that you can personally learn from and pass on to your students.
I’ve divided it all into two categories. First up, the wellness resources should help students manage their mental health and boost their happiness to keep burnout at bay. Then, the time management and productivity resources can help students learn new skills and keep up with routines that promote better studying, coursework, and leadership.
All of the recommended mobile apps and virtual services are either completely free, freemium, or offer free trials. Plus, many of the workshops and worksheets can inspire programs that you can host for student groups or coach students through one-on-one.
Now, get ready to help your students say “goodbye” (or at least “please bug me less”) to burnout.
Mobile Apps & Websites
- Insight Timer has a huge catalog of yoga classes and music designed to lure users to sleep. Plus, many of its over 70,000 guided meditations are narrated by celebrities.
- Just Breathe, Breathwrk, Breathe2Relax, and Health Through Breathe aim to help users destress and practice mindfulness through deep-breathing techniques.
- Colorify, Recolor, Color Therapy, Colofly, and Pigment are digital coloring books designed to help adults relax through creativity.
- Rainsounds HQ, Nature Sounds, Sleep Sounds, and Ambience have extensive collections of relaxing sounds and music to aid users in meditating, falling asleep, or simply destressing.
- Daylio, Day One, and Journey are tech-ified versions of a personal journal. Features include mood trackers, food logs, goal planners, inspirational prompts, audio diaries, and more.
- Mindshift CBT, DARE, and What’s Up? help users manage their stress and anxiety through mood tracking, evidence-based activities, resources on the different types of clinical anxiety, and more.
- Safe Place calls itself a “Minority Mental Health App geared towards the Black Community.” It features inspirational quotes, self-care tips, mental health podcasts, open forum discussions, and more.
- Calm, Aura, Breethe, Omvana, and Simple Habit offer seemingly endless meditation and sleep stories to help users relax and get some Zs.
- Shine is a comprehensive self-care app created by women of color. It teaches users self-care strategies, features daily community discussions, and even has an audio library of over 800 sounds and stories — including meditations specifically crafted to address challenges commonly faced by members of marginalized communities.
- AntiStress, My Oasis, and Personal Zen are app-based games with goals beyond winning. They’re all aimed at reducing users’ stress through beautiful imagery and simple gameplay.
- Wysa, Woebot, and Youper are mental health chatbots powered by classic therapy techniques. Though they can’t fully replicate a human therapist’s personalized advice, they can still direct users to great science-based resources and slowly ease skeptical folx into embracing mental health counseling.
- Qtine Buddy is a new buddy-pairing community created to address loneliness within the pandemic. (The Q stands for quarantine!) There are currently users from more than 100 countries, all of whom were intentionally matched with a buddy based on interests — such as crafting buddies, cooking buddies, study buddies, and more.
- Worry Watch, Mood Notes, and iMood empower users to better understand their emotional shifts and thought patterns. It’s done through cataloging daily moods, worries, energy levels, sleep habits, and more.
- SleepCycle, Sleep Time, and Pillow are designed to make sleeping an even more rewarding experience than it naturally is. These apps allow users to track and analyze their sleep patterns, set custom wake-ups, and more.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Step-by-Step Guide to Wellness prompts folx to reflect upon (and set goals for improving) eight “dimensions of wellness”: Emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social. The Wellness Wheel is a popular worksheet assessment that focuses on these same eight dimensions. When working with students, feel free to change the occupational wellness dimension to academic or educational wellness.
- The Worry Tree was developed by mental health counselors to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but it can be a helpful exercise for anyone wishing to conquer or banish their worries.
- M3 is an anonymous online mental health assessment that takes just a few minutes to complete. Though it cannot make any diagnoses, a user’s M3 score can be an indicator of essential actions they need to take for improvement.
- Presence’s Happy Day Wellness Worksheet has a template for planning daily wellness goals, along with a customizable happiness success scale.
Workshops & Activities
- Coursera has a series of free “courses for well-being” and Skillshare has free offerings focused on stress management, trauma recovery, self-reflection as a leadership habit, and more.
- TED Talks has produced excellent videos on happiness, vulnerability, sleep, decision-making, community, mindfulness, and mental health.
- Positive Psychology has 28 mental health activity ideas, productivity coach Samantha Warren recommends 100 screen-free activities, and Mental Health Delta Division has 19 ideas for interactive games to combat negative emotions.
Check out our blog posts on 6 Harmful Myths About Therapy, 5 Mindfulness Practices You Can Engage Students in Virtually, and 3 Ways to Help Students Avoid Virtual Burnout.
Time Management & Productivity
Mobile Apps & Websites
- Focus Booster, Focus-To-Do, Marinara Timer, Pomodoro Timer, and Clockwork Tomato allow users to time their tasks in 25-minute increments in accordance with the Pomodoro technique. You may already know of and adore Pomodoro; it’s a super popular time management strategy and procrastination-buster that people value for helping them balance productivity with break-taking.
- Trello, Asana, Airtable, and Monday.com bring together complementary task management tools, encouraging users to focus on goals, communicate with teammates, and organize ideas. Student organization boards can use these tools to boost collaboration, and individual students may find great value in organizing their to-do lists through these sites and apps.
- Clockify helps users learn from their bad habits and work towards better ones by tracking time spent on activities.
- Remember the Milk, Todoist, and TickTick take the ye ole concept of a to-do-list and enhance it. These apps allow users to set up timed reminders across devices, assign tasks to friends, track their progress, set priorities, and more.
- Loop Habit Tracker, Habitica, Habitify, and Today are habit-forming… which is a good thing! These tools allow users to track and learn from personal habits of all kinds — in order to work toward healthier goals and reduce not-so-great habits.
- Brill and Pen to Print convert handwritten notes into digital text with a simple photo snap. It’s a great time-saver for students who like to take handwritten notes in their classes and meetings. Plus, students who tend to dictate their ideas out loud will appreciate Brill’s audio-to-text feature.
- Noisli, myNoise, and Noizio promote productivity through sound. They’re playlists that don’t offer any Top 40 hits; instead, users get to select a variety of ambient noises to help drown out background sounds and stay focused.
- Kiwake, Let’s Wake Up, and Barcode Alarm Clock are on a mission to kill off a world-renowned frenemy: The alarm clock snooze button. Kiwake’s alarm won’t stop beeping until the user does three things: Prove that they’ve left the bed by taking a picture of an object located far from their nightstand, play a mini-game that requires focused attention, and review daily goals. Similarly, the Barcode Alarm Clock prompts users to prove that they’ve gotten out of bed by scanning a barcode of an item they picked the night before. And Let’s Wake Up plays progressively louder, more energetic sounds — starting with bird songs or light rainfall and ending with beeping.
- Coggle, Lucidchart, MindMup, Miro, and Bubbl.us are all about guided maps, but these tools are not competitors of Mapquest or Google Maps. Rather, they’re for mind maps! They encourage users to think creatively and organize their ideas. Students can use mind mapping to give their class notes some structure, plan out their student org activities calendars, brainstorm essay ideas, and more.
- Forest straddles the line between being a productivity app and a wellness one. Users are challenged to stay present in whatever they’re doing — whether it’s studying, writing a paper, or simply chatting with friends. They’re rewarded by growing digital trees, which is surprisingly rewarding.
- LeechBlock, SelfControl, and StayFocusd are perfect for students who can’t avoid the allure of Twitter trends, Instagram tags, featured Wikipedia articles, YouTube comments, or other web content that is definitely not their homework. These tools allow users to block websites and apps of their choosing — but not forever; just until that last take-home quiz is finished or student org email is sent.
- Upper Iowa University, Mercer County Community College, and Salt Lake Community College have compiled time management worksheets that prompt students to reflect upon their habits, analyze their daily schedules, and set time management goals.
- The University of Colorado Boulder has a great “Planning for Academic Success” goal-setting worksheet, and Metropolitan Community College Kansas City has this one based on SMART goals.
Workshops & Activities
- American University has a great video on how to best use a personal planner, the University of Arizona Health Sciences published the slides for its time management workshop, and St. Petersburg College has a short and sweet explainer on the basics of time management.
- Udemy and Coursera offer free, on-demand mini time management courses.
- Google has a free course on productivity, SkillShare has got one on creating the perfect morning routine, and edX has a video series on “The Science of Everyday Thinking.”
- TED talks has recorded many stellar talks about productivity, time management, goal setting, and even avoiding burnout.
- Check out these ideas of group and solo activities you can do with students to increase their time management skills — here, here, and here.
Encourage students who prefer DIY solutions to simply organize their mobile calendars, set alarms on their phones in accordance with the Pomodoro technique, and change the settings on their mobile apps to reduce distracting push notifications.
How have you helped your students defeat the ever-lurking burnout monster? We’d love to hear your ideas and learn about new resources! Connect with us on Twitter @HelloPresence.