After GTR-E (for an NYC team like us, a 13-hour bus ride each way) many of our team members were exhausted and burnt out. Missing school also affected some of us academically, since we returned to all the tests and classwork we’d missed. I imagine it’s even harder for teams who go to Champs and the like.
I’ve read the “mentor burnout” thread but it doesn’t answer my question. What can students do to recover from burnout after either the build season or a competition?
It did feel kinda odd telling a bunch of teenagers that they had a bed time. It sure did work though. Day 2 at Mt. Vernon wasn’t officially over until ~7:00 pm. You need all the energy you can get at these events regardless of your age.
Communication is your best friend for academic problems (or potential problems). The majority of teachers are willing to work with students who approach them in a reasonable manner with sufficient notice (IE, not telling them the day before you leave).
As for just general stress/mental burnout, sleep is the main thing, and, after that, making sure you spend time doing something recreational that isn’t robotics. Gaming, reading, playing some sort of sport. Mental health is a balancing act. As someone who has been utterly and entirely FIRST obsessed for the last four years in addition to taking way too many AP classes, making sure that I spend time not just on homework, sleep, and robotics, but also spending an hour or two just relaxing my brain is what keeps me (mostly) functional (although I’m pretty confident that my team would not agree that it has kept me sane).
I suggest your team talk about the issues and make some policies and principles that you think might help. Besides those ideas suggested you might consider things like weekly monitoring of grades, eating pizza no more than once a week and sticking to a rock solid, firm stop time at the end of the day.
This has already been said, but it can’t be stressed enough: take care of your schoolwork beforehand. I try to turn in papers and take tests in the week leading up to an event, if only so that Sunday doesn’t hurt quite as bad (though it’s still never fun).
Side note: a Chairman’s presentation is the last place you want to be thinking about that history paper.
I’m all for sleep, really. I tend to get sick right after competitions, which doesn’t help me academically.
Coming off of WPI this weekend, which isn’t even a far ride, I’ve slept for probably about thirty hours.
Additionally and what I think is really important, trying to think about something that’s not FIRST for a few minutes. Being in a competition with a thousand other FIRSTers for a weekend really goads you into one mindset and getting back into the real world is sometimes a bit jolting!
We tell the students lights out at 11pm, and for them to get as much sleep as they can. All of the students have to have grades in order to go to a competition. Try to talk to the school(s) if there is a major test coming up so they can take it early? Most students won’t be studying at an away competition so, they will forget it all afterwards. lol
We (adults and students) have to remind each other to stay hydrated. I forgot how intense this is. Glad we had water at our pit, but not enough. So we will be bringing more. Eat a hearty breakfast, not everything at the competition goes to schedule, and sometimes it’s crazy hectic.
Also, for students (boys especially) make sure they wear extra deodorant! 8am-6pm is a long day with minimal deodorant. :yikes:
The way I avoid burning out is to prepare for school work ahead of time. Sleep helps keep sanity but the thing that helps me the most is actually having fun with friends and meeting new people through these competitions.
I watch students push themselves beyond their limits every year only to realize they have yet to find their true limits. If you’re feeling burned out because you’ve pushed yourself, good job! You young’uns can take it. It’ll come in handy later in your life and all it really means is that your potential has yet to be found. Keep your grades up & push through.
As a general rule, don’t sleep in - get some exercise instead.
Personally when I’m burned out I resort to one of three things:
1.) Video games like Kerbal Space Program.
2.) A robotics hobby of 3D printing obscure flying drones for air-worthiness.
3.) Check out e-books from the local library on philosophy for my career (current read: Who Owns the Future?). Usually I progress at least a chapter before bed.
Well, according to some sleep research, electronics don’t actually help your brain rest. While that doesn’t stop me from playing them when I’m tired, sleeping and reading is usually a really good way to recharge. Also, don’t let your physical body slack off either–during build season, you really drain your mental batteries, and it’s important that you don’t let your physical body drain too far either. You’d be surprised how much exercise can do for you in terms of energy levels. I always try to go running or biking about 3-4 weeks prior to the competitions early in the morning or stuff so that I can get in shape and not lose too much energy at competitions. They’re really exhausting, and if you’re in better physical shape you’ll last longer and recharge faster.
Having experienced actual burnout due to running smack into my physical limits multiple times before, I will say that this is dangerous advice.
There is nothing wrong with testing your limits, if you are in a situation where you can deal with the consequences of finding out that they’re lower than you thought. That is, don’t push yourself for the sake of pushing yourself if there are important things that depend on you being in a functional state.
Stress is a a very real physiological thing and can be (potentially) very harmful over long periods of time. Do not fool yourself into thinking you can always tough it out. Treat your body’s warning systems with respect; if you’re feeling constantly tired, get some rest. If you need a day off, take a day off. The robot will be there when you get back; other important things things you may screw up due to burnout may not.
I think you’ve got to come at the problem from the root cause. Meet less, and put safeguards in place so people don’t burn out. Work expands to fill available time. It is dangerous for the sustainability of FRC if we continue to burn out our students, mentors, and other volunteers year after year. The best way to deal with burnout is to not burnout in the first place. If you aren’t sick of robots at the end of a build day or build season, you’re much less likely to be sick of robots after a day or two of competition. You want your team to leave the event hungry to do better things, not exhausted and sick of robots.