People Who Suffer From Sleep Paralysis Describe Exactly What It's Like
Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During this time, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Sleep researchers conclude that, in most cases, sleep paralysis is simply a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through sleep stages.
That doesn't make it any less frightening however.
Reddit users the_yarb and aleks_1999 asked those "who have experienced sleep paralysis, what is the feeling and what are your first thoughts when it occurs?"
Here are the chilling responses.
I woke up and couldn't move. I had never heard of sleep paralysis, so it was pretty scary.
It wasn't quite as terrifying as I've seen some descriptions of, but I guess results vary. It went through my head that I might be dying and I just kind-of told myself "oh well, eff it, doesn't look like I can do anything about it" so I went back to sleep.
Not sure if it means I have no will to live, or if I'm some sort of zen bad-ass. It was an interesting experience to say the least, wouldn't recommend.
I've had it happen enough times that I understand what's happening, but every time I still panic and try to wake myself up. I wish I had a zen attitude about it, but my heart starts racing (at least I feel like it does).
I'll wake myself up, open my eyes and think to myself, "whew, thank god that's over", then I'll notice something that's a little off in my room, like the lighting is wrong, or an object isn't where it usually is, and then the realization that I'm still stuck and can't move kicks in and I freak out, and try to wake myself up.
I've "woken myself up" about 6 or 7 times in one sleep paralysis session before, and everything looks so real and vivid, except for a few details, I fall for thinking I'm awake every time.
And when I finally do become awake for real, I spend at least half the morning questioning if I'm still asleep or not. It's kinda freaky
My experience seems to be different from most people. I woke up, could breathe fine, nothing hurt. It was just like waking up, except I couldn't move. It was like my muscles had suddenly grown very weak and I couldn't even lift my own arms.
It was scary my first time, especially because I started lucid dreaming soon after, but didn't know how to control it, which ended in probably the worst, most realistic nightmare I've ever had.
The second time, however, I actually managed to break out of sleep paralysis. I realized what was happening to me, and so I relaxed for a moment but made sure I didn't fall asleep again. Then, I just started thinking about other things. I started thinking about how thirsty I was, so I focused all of my energy into lifting my head so I could get some water. It took some concentration- It felt like I would be able to lift my head easily, but that power seemed... distant. It was like extreme laziness. I wanted to move, but just couldn't force myself to get up. However, I eventually managed to lift my head, and then my arms followed, and soon I was up. It took a long time though- it's a lot faster to just fall back asleep.
I get sleep paralysis a few times a month, and it tends to happen when I am stressed and overly tired.
The first time it happened, I knew what it was and so I was not scared. I did not experience any presences or fear, I just could not move. I have to concentrate very hard on moving one small part of my body - usually clenching and unclenching my toes is easiest, and then I can fully move again.
After a bout of sleep paralysis, I have to at least roll over in bed. If I stay in the same position and fall back asleep, it will happen again within the next half hour, and continue to happen every half hour until I roll over or get frustrated and just get up.
A weird thing I have noticed is I usually encounter the 'scarier' experiences when I have been sleeping for a longer time. It happens to me so often that every now and then it will happen to me when I doze off in class at school. I will do what I usually do and do the countdown and try to get up with all my strength and by the time it works instead of just waking up like a usual person would I would dramatically shoot up from my head down on the desk and people all get scared around me.
This happens to me a lot actually, usually about 3-4 times a month. I've learned to adjust to it. Now its more of a "F* not this again"
To describe it in my experience for other people who have never had it. Imagine a time in life where you were too scared to move, Or even had one of those dreams where you try to run but can't. It's that exact feeling, but it's real and you can't move or speak. You are stuck in place while the world around you is dark and strange noises creep into your ears. You start wondering if you are dreaming but you know in the back of your mind that you are awake and this isn't just another dream. You feel your entire body as if it were filled with lead and your blanket had turned to steel and encapsulated you. You are a prisoner in your own body, your only escape is hoping you can calm down enough to return to the safety of your dream, this waking nightmare is hopefully only temporary and fleeting fast. Once it's over you fear it's return, the haunting feeling of being so helpless and vulnerable with no obvious signs it could happen the next night, and then the next, and the next...
When it first started I was absolutely terrified every single time and would cry. I lost a lot of sleep in school due to fear of having another case of it. Eventually I learned tricks how to wake myself up.
Prelude to Night Terrors?
I go between hallucinations and being aware that I'm in sleep paralysis.
It gets really nightmarish when I go through a cycle of waking up from a dream into another and I tell my hands to move and they do but not in the real world.
It takes screaming and all my strength just to move the slightest bit or let out a groan to tell my girlfriend to shake me awake.
My dad has night terrors and screams in his sleep with constant nightmares, I'm hoping that doesn't start happening to me.
I actually woke up in sleep paralysis once, opened my eyes, realized what's happening (it happened numerous times before), saw a figure or entity on the chair near my bed and didn't think much of it. I kind of reacted like it was normal or like didn't want to do any harm, and went back to sleep...
Another time I felt like I started to float, and even something pulling me out. I guess I was close to an Out of Body Experience (OBE), but got scared and woke up when I felt I was dragged (or at least that was my impression/imagination).
These things happened a lot more frequently when I was meditating daily
I've been having sleep paralysis for years, several times a week, and personally, the first time it happened was extremely scary. Kicking, screaming, clawing for anyone to help me only to hear my muffled moans when I'd float out of the dream state and always finding myself in the same position I "fell asleep" in despite KNOWING that I moved to try to wake up or clawed someone for help.
Personally it happens so often that I know when it's coming. Usually just feels like I can't move my toes at first, and I begin feeling this dread come over me. I usually try to close my eyes, knowing that panicking will only push me further into it. I continuously wiggle my toes, knowing that I only THINK they're moving, until my blanket moves from the shaking then I usually get up out of bed and move around. Or go in my phone and completely change my state of mind. I've never had an experience less than terrifying so I'd have to say fear is my first reaction/thought.
So, I'll just go over one of the worst episodes I had when I was younger. I was falling asleep listening to a podcast out loud on my phone.
When I "woke up" I was looking at the bottom right corner of my room. There were 4 figures that appeared to be talking in a circle. I couldn't understand what they were saying. I honestly thought they were here to kill me. All the sudden I could make out what one of them was saying. "shhhh, he's awake" and they all looked at me.
I gained control of my body again and ran out of my room. Didn't go back for a few nights.
For me, it's quite like still being in a dream but being aware of it, not 100% conscious. I was told to just go back to sleep and my body would wake up naturally. I used this method for years, but "woke up" after falling asleep in the car with my brother and a couple of friends with my mom driving one night. I remember feeling safe, and just laying there, listening to everyone talk. I eventually woke up but was able to go back to sleep and repeat the process a couple of times.
It happened a couple of weeks ago, and my girlfriend was sitting next to me in the bed watching TV. She said I often kick my legs around, which I recall trying to do to wake up, but couldn't feel them moving. I remember trying to talk to her, but all she could hear is "whimpering".
I could be wrong, but I recall a doctor explaining that as your mind incorporates surrounding stimuli into your dreams to prevent you from waking up when you need the sleep, this seems to be related to when I am exhausted and not getting enough rest.
3rd Time Is No Charm
Happened three times in one night. BOY WAS IT A STRESSFUL DAY
First time I "woke up", I couldn't open my eyes. Or move. at first i was like "oh cool sleep paralysis, I've heard about it, might be fun".
But then I heard footsteps from the hall into my room. I'm not a very religious man, but have I ever prayed so much. Immediately after that, I woke up, extremely sweaty. Took a while to calm down, then fell asleep.
Then I "woke up" for the second time, nothing special, couldn't move at all, realized what was happening, then just decided to sleep.
Third time I "woke up" I heard a distant laughter in my bedroom. I just prayed some more and woke myself up crying. After that I just didn't sleep and pulled an all-nighter, while being very very scared.
Not Enough Air
I wake up feeling like my face is in the pillow. My hands are trapped underneath me. I am trying to move them, but they don't work.
Maybe I can rock my shoulders back and forth and the arms will come loose. But I can't. I'm starting to panic. I just can't get enough air.
I try feebly to call out to my wife next to me, just so she'll give me a little push. Please wake up just once. But what noise I can make, if any, is not going to be heard by sleeping beauty. I try to relax. I haven't died the other hundreds of times this has happened, but I sure would like a little more air.
I get this regularly, and how it happens can vary pretty significantly. I tend to suffer from pretty bad nightmares, so the worst cases are when I'm trapped in a really negative dream and it feels like my whole mind is trying to suck itself out of there but my body isn't responding.
Sometimes I have trouble breathing. From there, a lot of the times I manage to make one violent jerking movement of sitting or lurching up in bed (I sleep on my back).
There have been times though where I wasn't able to actually wake up and fell back into a nightmare.
There have been times where I thought that there was another person or at least...presence in the room with me. I am confused if these were very vivid dreams, hallucinations or actual encounters with spirits. I am not a firm believer in that stuff but I'm not ruling it out.
I once thought that a demon or something was sitting on my chest and guiding my dreams into bad places as I fought to wake up and push it off. That is one of the more surreal things I have ever encountered during sleep paralysis, and it is terrifying on different levels. My mind could've been creating the demon dream to rationalize my labored breathing, or maybe I'm just losing it slowly.
I was in bed, thankfully not alone. I heard the front door open and close, and could feel someone getting closer. I couldn't so much as hear the footsteps, but I could feel them and the presence.
I tried to speak to my spouse to wake him, because I was afraid, and couldn't. At this point I realized it was sleep paralysis, and after that is was just really cool, to experience my body do something that I shouldn't have experienced at all. I tried to move, and couldn't, and just found that to be so awesome.
It took a few moments after that to fully wake.
13 year old me woke up and couldn't move like how you'd expect. I had a TV that was at the end of my bed, and I just remember a black figure crawling out like the girl in the ring, except it started crawling on the ceiling. as it got above me, I blinked and it seemed to teleport over by my left side, then looked at me for five seconds or so.
It all ended right after that. I just remember going down stairs crying hard as I explained it to my mom. It was awful.
Only time it's ever happened. Scared to death that it'll happen again.
I had this for a few years while take some serious antipsychotic meds. It's hell. The first time it happened I couldn't move but I thought I was screaming and couldn't understand why my husband wasn't helping me. I ended up in a full blown, can't breathe panic attack before it ended.
Every time after that I'd panic but try to talk myself down from a full blown panic attack, sometimes it worked, other times not so much. It didn't help matters that I always experienced this immediately following night terrors that left me terrified and traumatized.
It hasn't happened in a few years but it's not a feeling I'll ever forget.
I'm startled awake by either a sound or a tactile sensation, like something bumping my bed, pulling my hair.
I think at first that I am frozen in fright from being startled until I try to move but can't. At that point I usually know what is happening but sometimes not.
I'm also then aware of a faceless shadowy man in my room. Sometimes he physically attacks me, other times he just stands ominously in the doorway. Even knowing it's a hallucination doesn't make it feel less real in the moment. I hate it so much.
I couldn't breathe any more than these tiny, unfulfilling breaths and as I panicked I felt like I needed more and more air but couldn't get it.
Like drowning out of water.
Also could not speak to call for help, even though my boyfriend was sleeping a foot away.
I've had sleep paralysis my whole life, but I didn't understand what it was until a few years ago when I googled it.
I usually get it either right before I'm going to fall asleep, or waking up from a nightmare. For me, the sensation is like being smothered while falling, and I'm uncomfortably warm. When I'm falling asleep, it isn't too bad. I'll get auditory hallucinations, like hearing someone laugh (not a creepy laugh, just regular laughter) or talk, or a crashing noise like something fell off my desk.
The episodes I get following nightmares are the worst. Usually it starts with that falling feeling as I'm coming out of the dream. When I open my eyes, I usually have a visual hallucination.
Shadows coming towards me, three figures with red eyes looming over my head, my door opening, things like that.
The worst I've ever had was when there was a hunched over impish figure with bulbous eyes and fangs just staring at me. I couldn't move. His mouth wasn't moving, but it was like I could hear him whispering really awful things in my head. I remember the feeling of panic was overwhelming and I wanted to scream but I just couldn't move.
After that I had really bad anxiety when it came to falling asleep, so I did a lot of research and learned that people who sleep on their back are more likely to experience sleep paralysis. Ever since I started sleeping on my side, I haven't had an episode. I literally can't fall asleep in any other position now because it makes me nervous. I also learned that apparently my father had it, but he doesn't like to speak about his experiences.
People Explain Which Strange Things Are Considered Normal In Their Home Country But Weird Everywhere Else
What is in the water in the United States that compels people to walk around in their homes with their shoes on? Try doing that in South Korea––people would be so mortified. I have a sibling whose apartment is carpeted from wall to wall and who walks around inside with his shoes on all the time, tracking in any manner of dirt and dust from outside. Egad! I get chills just thinking about it. And as an American, it's something I've noticed people from other countries love to comment on.
We learned a lot more about things that are considered normal in other countries after Redditor monitonik asked the online community,
"What's normal in your country that's considered weird in others?"
"I grew up in Australia..."
"I grew up in Australia and migrated to Ireland about ten years ago. First thing I noticed was people in Ireland really like to talk about death in everyday conversation: Who died. When the mass is. The removal of the body and the anniversaries of their death. It's so normal in conversation."
"Leaving a baby..."
"Leaving a baby bundled up outside to sleep. When my previous neighbours had a baby, sometimes I would pass it on the porch, just sleeping. Including in winter as long as it wasn't too cold."
And in the United States, rest assured that child services would be called ASAP.
"In Japan, there are public toilets in a few places where after urinating, you can opt to view a general health assessment report."
Sounds like a privacy issue, no?
"I live in Malaysia..."
"I live in Malaysia and nearly everyone here uses at least three languages in a sentence."
Spend some time in Miami. The official language of the city is Spanglish.
"There's this sport..."
"There's this sport in Finland called eukonkanto, where men participate in running a specific distance, all while carrying their wife or girlfriend. Winner gets their woman's weight in beer."
"It's a small country..."
"Probably talking to people so that no one else can hear you except the person you are directly talking to.
It's a skill almost all Dutch people have, I have found, but it can be very unnerving for other people because you can be sitting pretty close to two people having a conversation and have no idea what they are saying.
It's a small country and very densely populated with people who value their privacy. It's a survival skill, really."
Can we bring this to the United States? Why are people so LOUD here?
"Some areas in the country..."
"Saying "hi" or waving to strangers. Some areas in the country take it even further and you're considered rude if you drive through a residential street and don't wave to anyone walking as you pass them."
"If you're walking with a dog..."
"Walking all over the countryside along ancient footpaths (as well as bridleways and byways, and a lot of disused railway tracks that have been designated as footpaths). These paths often go across privately owned land; the landowners are required by law to keep the paths clear, and if they put up a fence to provide a gate.
If you're walking with a dog, you're expected to keep it under control around livestock and when the path crosses a road, but otherwise it's just accepted that dogs are going to run around sniffing everything."
"We have robots..."
"We have robots at busy intersections and crossing points to assist and control traffic flow."
Nice to see Chappie is getting some work.
"The other day..."
"I teach in Japan but grew up in America. The other day my students asked me wide-eyed if Americans really wear their shoes inside. I told them yes and that sometimes my dad would cross his legs like this while we sat on the sofa and I could touch the bottom of his shoes. They were super grossed out. "Eew, why would you wear shoes inside! That's so dirty!" These kids are 2nd graders so it starts pretty young."
It never hurts to travel––you'll broaden your horizons and learn more about other cultures! When the pandemic's over––I mean actually over––and it's safe enough to travel, I might just hire someone to play my wife and take part in that Finnish wife-carrying contest. Some beer sounds great.
Have some observations of your own? Feel free to tell us all about them in the comments section below!
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The brain a fascinating part of the body. No, its the most fascinating.
Scientists have said for years that we'll never know all about the brain and its functions.
So if it is so fascinating and so capable and awesome... why does it stall? Why does it overload?
Why aren't we all gifted with photographic memory? The brain definitely has a full storage issue. And we all suffer.
Redditor u/MABAMA45 wanted everyone to fess up to and just embrace all the things the brain can't handle by asking:
What can your brain just not comprehend?
I'm a smart person. I read, I study, I comprehend. But certain types of math can send me to the funny farm. I tried trigonometry in high school. I needed a therapist after a week. My brain hates math. It is what it is. I give up trying.
Louder!Meme Reaction GIF by reactionseditorGiphy
"I can't comprehend why any company would think I'm more likely to buy their product if they make their commercial 20db louder than all other commercials. Instant boycott."
"The sheer size and scale of the universe. Like the fact that you can fit all the planets of the Solar System between the Earth and the Moon. Now realise how far apart all the planets are in the Solar System. This is practically next door compared to the distance between our Sun and the nearest star."
"There are billions of stars in our Milky Way (with the majority having planets of their own). The sheer scale of the vast emptiness involved means that even when our galaxy merges with the Andromeda galaxy in 4.5 billion years' time, there will be very, very few actual collisions between stars."
"Then there is the void between galaxies, and that it takes billions of years for light, at its speed (massless, and the fastest speed possible), to travel between galaxies, speaks of the sheer emptiness and distance in that void. I can't quite fathom it."
"What was there before the universe, what was there before that, and that and that and (you get the idea)."
"Before" implies that time exists on both sides of an event, but that is not true when we are talking about the universe. Like how there are no positive numbers less than 0, there are no times before the beginning of the universe."
In the Words...
"Language, the fact that we all collectively decided separately and divertingly that certain sounds have meanings and that other sound mixed with those can change the meaning."
"Thanks for all of the upvotes and the award :3."
"Adding onto what I said, sounds are just vibrations in the air that out brains interpret into the sensation of hearing. Really we're vibrating the air at each-other and those air vibrations to your brain contain meaning. When you think about it like this language is not too dissimilar to the internet in a way. Makes you realize how crazy and unique of a skill language really is, with-ought it we wouldn't have a civilization."
"Another interesting thing related to this is when people call your name. Even if your in a crowded area with hundreds of people talking around you and you think your tuning them out if you hear your name you immediately notice, Some part of your brain must be constantly listening."
"Here are some other things my mind can't quite grasp:
- Computers, the fact that my phone is performing countless mathematical operations constantly.
- the plank length, if I understand it right it's the smallest distance anything can move, like a pixel of space.
- the human body and animals in general, were a collection of (large number but idk how large) cells all working together in various systems some how sustaining a brain that is able to be conscious, it's a miracle animals work at all let alone what they're capable of.
- why my ankles crack when I walk.
- what the future will be like, the world is changing so fast it's likely the future will be nothing like we think and it's coming." - Flaer15
I'm EmptyFun Floating GIF by Tomas BrunsdonGiphy
"My little brain can't comprehend the vast emptiness of space and the fact it supposedly just stretches on forever and never has an end. Kind of wild when you try imagine it."
Like any other muscle or organ in the body, we have to listen when pain is inflicted. We have to recognize discomfort and deal. Why don't we allow the same respect to our brain? It will tell us when enough is enough.
Simplicity...Work Working GIFGiphy
"How a simple calculator works. I can do math. I'm actually very good at it. How does a little plastic box do it though? Always boggled my mind."
"Dates. I am considered a historian by my family due to my knowledge on most world history, but God dang dates... I could be talking about WWII and say it happened the same date as WWI."
Billions of People
"That all the others persons I talk to or see, have their own thoughts, own inner dialogue and own life. For gaming analogy sometimes I just feel like others are NPC and I just can't comprehend that there are more than 7 billions person just like me."
The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one's own, which they are constantly living despite one's personal lack of awareness of it."
Now That's Too Much!
"I have a PhD in astronomy and MSc in Physics, and had to take ~2 years worth of quantum mechanics courses. It's one of those things where you can take solace that even with all that education on it all I can say is no one else really understands it either."
And the Dark?
"Light isn't affected by time. So... other things could just exist outside of time? Like, if you were a photon that traveled at light speed for a million years and then hit an alien's third butt, you'd experience it as instantly being a million light years away."
"A photon moves at the speed of light through space, but is standing still in time."
"A person at rest moves at the speed of light through time, but is standing still in space. When you accelerate through space, you're simultaneously decelerating through time. That's why observers will see your clock slow down when you begin accelerating at relativistic speeds. It's referred to as time and space dilation. Makes more sense once you realize that."
"There are people who don't have an internal dialogue with themselves. So, they never question if they are right or wrong. They never wonder if they are treating someone fairly, or if they are nice or mean."
"They can change their minds with no information, but it doesn't involve the process most of us go through when confronted with an opinion, or new data. It's not common, but it's not entirely rare. When I learned about this, I just couldn't understand how it was even possible."
The EndSeason 2 Episode 10 GIF by The SimpsonsGiphy
"Death, obviously I understand why people die and all that but just thinking what happens afterwards. What's it like for the said person that died, is it just blackness? Is it like they're dreaming??? Reincarnation?? This probably sounds very stupid but I don't care 🤦🏻♀️🤷🏻♀️"
There is so much to learn, and even more that we'll never know. And that's ok. When the brain is full, it's full. Seems like just a part of life. The mysteries will sometimes stay illusive.
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It's okay to hate things.
Some things deserve to be hated. Internet trolls, people who mistreat animals, and individuals who talk during the movie are most definitely worthy of the scorn they gain. However, there are some items and topics which could do with a bit of rebranding. Instead of being "Hate Me," they instead deserve a sign that says, "I'm Really Not That Bad."
What doesnt need the hate it gets?
They say you hate what you don't understand. Clearly, they were thinking of things like the entries below when they came up with that expression as all of these fit the bill of being hated for not being understood.
It Cycles Past Judgement Into Comfort
"Sleeping with stuffed animals. You're never too old for that."
"Somewhat mature: Not needing a stuffed animal in order to sleep.
Very mature: Sleeping with one anyway because you don't give a f-ck what other people think."
Long Live The King
Most unfairly villainized and maligned animal in the world all because of some stupid Disney movie. They are not scavengers at all they hunt 90% of their prey and lions steal food off of them far more than they steal off lions. They are highly intelligent predators with an equally important role to play in the ecosystem."
They Go Through More Than Anyone Will Realize
I can personally confirm that I was a piece of work in grade school--then high school. And it wasn't because of teachers--it was because of me."
"As someone in high school rn, I agree with this. They get paid too little to deal with my laziness and bullsh-t"
You might have been told, either by a friend or a family member or some misguided news source, that the following topics are deserving of your hate. That their mere existence is something to shun and hate.
That's not the case.
It Tastes Soooo Good
"MSG. It's like salt but on crack and exploding with flavor."
This was a pretty racist phenomenon that got built up around Asian restaurants in the 70s and 80s.
"Essentially some study came out that MSG was bad for you and caused headaches, racing heart and basically anything else that might be considered bad. They even came up with a diagnosis for it "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" and it was recognized as a legit medical diagnosis.
However, the FDA had already tested it and on retest found that it was still basically as safe as anything else you put in your food. .
The original studies were really flawed in that they weren't blind and there was already this perception that MSG was bad because they were racists/xenophobic."
You Know Bananas Don't Normally Look Like That, Right?
"GMOs. Humans have been slowly doing that since we started cultivating crops, now we can just do it quicker. And there are millions of people who rely on GMO crops to not starve to death."
It's important to be cautious about your own safety and well-being. No one is trying to convince you to take unnecessary risks.
However, sometimes that thing you were worried about might not be as deadly as you imagined.
They're Not All Chernobyl
"People freak out because of the radiation but almost everyone is oblivious to the amount of crap a coal or oil powerplant dumps in the atmosphere."
"Nuclear waste is relatively easy to store and modern nuceal powerplants have good safety records."
They're Just Words
Chemist here. The word "chemicals"
Toxicologist here. "Chemical free" ugggggg makes me so mad. Anything can be toxic at the right dose
Seriously. Don't Be That Parent.
"TV shows made specifically for toddlers. They are toddlers. It's all colors and shapes and being excited over simple things. That's what toddlers are about. YOU don't need to watch the show. It's not for you."
Do certain things and people deserved to be scorned? A look at Twitter will say a resounding, "Yes." But with a keener eye, and a closer look, you'll see that misinformation or misunderstanding can guide misguided to hate.
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Going to college is an exciting experience. You meet new people, learn about the world and the inner workings of society, and make lasting friendships. As fun (and expensive *cough, cough*) as higher education can be there is a reason that only one-third of the US population 25 and older have been able to complete a four-year degree program. It is hard and burnout is real.
Going through university was filled with both happiness and sometimes tears for me. I loved school and found my classes interesting, dove into extracurriculars, and had that perfectionist drive to get all A's... totally not sustainable. It hit me I was totally burnt out about two years in while enrolled in an algebra class.
I wanted to give up, I was flustered and spent way too much time trying to get a great grade in a class that just wasn't clicking for me. What did I do? I had to take a step back and reflect on what I would tell a friend in the same shoes. I would tell them they don't need to be perfect, that getting a C+ in one class wasn't going to wreck their whole GPA, and for the love of God drink water too won't just coffee.
Self-care and stealing extra sleep, even just an hour nap, can go a long way to refreshing your drive. The takeaway really was just to show me the same love and support I'd been putting out to those around me. You deserve it, too!
Redditor peachyjams asked:
"What are some tips for a burnt out student?"
The Reddit community gave this user some wonderful tips and tricks to help with student burnout.
Go at your own pace.
“Don't pressure yourself into 4 years. It's OK to take it slower. Balance out your schedule with more enjoyable elective credits if you can, or just take less courses in a semester if possible.”
“Obviously things like financial aid, living costs (if not living at home) and others may play a factor in how many courses you need to take or how quickly you need to complete college, so if you can't take less courses, talk to your advisor or counselor and work with them to carefully plan out each semester so that your coursework is balanced IE: You don't end up accidentally taking Calculus + "Fun," art class that was 1000x more work than you thought it would be in the same semester.”~zachtheperson
“Burnt out doesn't begin to cover it.”
“I feel very qualified to answer this. I have been in college continuously since I was 18, and I'm now 32. I have 2 years to go before finishing my doctorate. I currently have an associate's, bachelor's, and master's. I have also worked the entire time. Burnt out doesn't begin to cover it. Here is how I stay sane:
- Give school as little bandwidth in your life as possible. "Good enough" are the two most beautiful words in the English language. Get Bs on things. Write your assignments and due dates on a master calendar, block off times to get them done, and try to avoid thoughts of school outside of those blocks.
- To increase productivity during your work blocks, use Freedom or something similar. I paid for a lifetime subscription and in one class alone it paid for itself. It just blocks access to your distractions on the phone and computer while you get stuff done.
- Tackle other hobbies in life that you see progress in outside of school. Even if it feels like school will never ever end and you're on a treadmill of misery going nowhere, you can go somewhere in other areas of your life. I'm currently training for a marathon, just started learning cello, I mentor first gen college students, and I'm in a book club. Pick your poison, but try to put away the laptop and push yourself in a non-academic area.
- Your social needs may vary, but try getting together with other people not in your circle of school misery. Join a sports league (yuck for me but maybe not for you). I host regular dinner parties. Volunteer. Now that vaccines are out, make sure you get one then connect with other people.
- DO NOT TAKE A BREAK. When you stop school even for a semester you know what it's like to be happy and not have the weight of misery pulling you down. You won't want to go back. Slog through and just do it.
- Don't reward yourself with damaging things. Don't eat or drink your rewards for school or you will be unhealthy and unhappy when you're done. Reward yourself with something positive instead."
If I had to recommend one book, it would be 'Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle'. Basically, it goes into the science of feeling burned out, why it's bad for you, and how to fix it on a physiological level."
“If you don't want to read the whole thing, if I could distill the most useful information it would be: exercise. The author digs deep into the science (which I love) behind why it works SO DAMN GOOD, but if you hate science and reading, trust me. Go for a run a few times a week, lift weights, dance a lot, just get your heart rate up. Good luck. School sucks."~bicycle_mice
You don’t have to be perfect.walking dead love GIFGiphy
“If you're an A student I would suggest lowering your personal bar. Being constantly burnt out isn't worth the 0.2 difference in your GPA and if you're worried about career prospects there are always comparable fields that aren't quite as competitive.”
“Trying to get an A in every class takes disproportionally more work. If you can get A's and a few more B's while getting to chill every once and a while and not stressing, do that.”~SlightlyOvertuned
Lists are seriously underrated.
If your sensation is of being overwhelmed (i.e. you have an impossible amount of work to do with no end in sight) more than burnt out (you are exhausted and becoming detached from the work), then two tips:
- Realise that it's not infinite. If you stick it out until graduation (and I hope you do!), then many of the problems you're accumulating will be wiped clear. Perhaps your GPA/final grade won't be as good as you want, but remember that whatever you're facing now - this too shall pass. Knowning that there is an inevitable light at the end of the tunnel is useful for me.
- Make a list. If you are the under-organised type, making a list of things to do each morning on a sheet of paper dramatically reduces the stress level that those items cause you. You can implement some fancy to-do software if you prefer but tbh a daily todo is simpler and more effective...”~alexandicity
A book and a blanket? Make it so.read new york GIFGiphy
“When I was a burnt out student I took solace in a comfort zone activity. Something unrelated to my school work that I could dive into for a little while when I needed a break. For me, this was reading the Lord of the Rings.”
“What works for you depends one what's in your comfort zone, but it should be something that you can easily pick up and put down again when it is time to get back to work.”
“To this day, I still read the Lord of the Rings when I get stressed or overworked. In fact, I am reading it now, for the 48th time.”~khendron
“Lots of things you could try! Sleep. 8 hours a day, wake up spontaneously without an alarm and if you feel the need do a 30-90 minute power nap in the afternoon.”
“Meditate daily, 5-30 minutes to start in the morning or whenever you feel comfortable. Limit the consume of caffeine.”
“Plan a healthy diet you can stick to, reducing the amount of junk food first to focus later on the composition of your main meals, snacks and so on. Eat plenty of greens, fruit, nuts and drink mainly water or sugar free drinks.”
“Take cold showers. Those are a huge boost, especially in the morning. Decompress. As someone said, take the days you need to just do nothing during your week. Last but not least, workout! Start small, build the habit and stick to it!“~Tha_Sin
“...it's pretty normal in our over worked society.”
“Burnout is real. It means you have given too much of yourself to something, and you need to recover. While deadlines don't wait, professors often will. “
“You have to communicate with them if you are struggling. If they are worth their pay, they will do their best to accommodate you. It's unhealthy to continue under so much stress. Be kind to yourself.”
“Nearly everyone experiences this at some point in life, and it's pretty normal in our over worked society. Do what you can to clear your mind. Assign yourself a certain number of hours to completely shift gears away from all these responsibilities.”
“Set an alarm if you have to, but give yourself enough time to reach a stage of full body relaxation. You can try walking, meditating, sleeping, whatever your body needs. Just listen to it! There is no shame here. You must care for yourself and keep a balance. Deep breaths, often.”~VaginaWarrior
“Yes to this advice!! Let teachers know ASAP that you are struggling and often they will be able to make accommodations or offer help. Also, looking into counseling services that are offered through the school is definitely worth taking advantage of while that stuff is accessible and free.”~shannonbta
“because a b*tch needs water...”
“My bad day thing is I have to get up, eat (even if it's takeout), put on fresh bedsheets because if I'm having a bad day in bed it might as well be comfortable and smell good, have a shower (even just shoulders down) and go for even a small walk, even if it's to the shop or to get myself that takeout."
“They're not huge things to do but they're very difficult on some days. And I don't always do them all, maybe I just eat and shower, or go for a walk, or just change my bedsheets. But all of them are small tasks that feel like mountains but once I do one or two of them they're so so easy, and I benefit from them all mentally or physically or both."
“And I have a litre bottle of water and cup of tea at my side at all times because a b!tch needs water and there are few things as comforting as a good cup of tea in a warm mug to me."~thisisausername-2021
“I didn't pull a single all-nighter in my 4 years of undergrad.”
- “Don't listen to your fellow classmates who boast about study 60+ hours a week, they're either exaggerating, straight-up lying, or have an incredibly inefficient study method. There will be times where you really need to be studying hard for extended amounts of time (ex. finals week), but for the vast majority of the semester it is completely unnecessary to do that in order to get a good grade.”
- “If you do find that you need excessive study in order to do okay in a course then you need to reach out to your TA(s) and professor. Most universities have free tutoring services, use them.”
- “Seriously just take more breaks and get more sleep. I didn't pull a single all-nighter in my 4 years of undergrad and now that I'm in med school I don't have any need for that either. Without real breaks and sleep your brain's ability to actually store and organize all the information you've studied goes out the window. This is harder to do if you need to work to support yourself but you need to find some semblance of healthy sleeping habits if you want to be able to make it through all 4 years.”
- “Eat real food. Don't just live off of snack foods and coffee, your brain isn't going to work properly if you don't fuel it. It's generally cheaper to buy canned and frozen fruit and veg so if you're on a budget try those aisles. Additionally, most places have some sort of charity or community pantry/soup kitchen, use it if you need to.You don't need to be completely destitute in order to reach out for help from these places, if you are struggling to make ends meet get help from your community. It is not weak, it is not shameful, it's being smart enough to accept that everyone needs help now and then.”
- “I mean it, don't pay attention to classmates and social media influencers who say they spend all their time studying. They almost definitely aren't and if they are they have an unsustainable view towards work/school that will bite them in the butt later on.”~JSD12345
Treat yourself to a mini-vacation.
“If you have any extra money (I know, easier said than done) book the cheapest AirBNB you can find within the area you can get to with the transportation you have available. Go alone or bring a friend, and have a mini-vacation, just for a night or weekend. It's very refreshing to have a change of scenery, even if it's in your same city.”~goshawkgirl
These are some great ideas to help cope with the all to real burnout. Remember to show yourself the grace you give to others because your best is all you can do.