I have really been struggling with burnout lately. This is definitely not the first time I’m mentioning it here – I think it’s been almost weekly at the point in my Friday Favorites post – but it really has been hitting me hard lately! I love blogging and sharing on Instagram, and I love my job too, but sometimes trying to do both of them at the same time can be really hard. We’ve been working on launching a new project at work, which is really exciting but also stressful, and working on that while also trying to keep up with my posting schedule here has really been testing my limits.
And then you add on everything else, too. I know that I sound like a broken record, but continuing to try to make risk calculations about COVID, three plus years into this pandemic, has not gotten any easier. And the three year mark hit me a lot harder than I thought it would, mentally and emotionally. I think that in past years – one year in, or even two – there was still more of a sense of hope, and of community care. Now, with the governmental state of emergency ending and with mask usage plummeting, it’s hard to feel like I won’t be stuck in this cycle forever. I know, logically, that this isn’t the case, but it’s still a lot to grapple with mentally.
When I’m feeling burned out, I find it really hard to be productive – I have to force myself! Which, obviously, just becomes a bit of a cycle in and of itself – I’m burned out and I don’t want to work, so I put it off, but then I have more to do later and feel even more burned out! That’s really not a cycle that I want to continue in the long term.
Because of all of this, I’ve been working hard to combat the burnout – to make sure that I’m doing little things every day or every week that add value to my life and aren’t work or productivity related. Basically, little things that ensure I have some semblance of balance in my life. For me, here’s what those things look like right now.
Now that it’s finally starting to be a little bit warmer, I’ve been forcing myself to go outside for a little bit each day. Even just 15 minutes of sitting outside and breathing in the fresh air makes a huge difference for me. Now that work and home are in the same place, I don’t really have a reason to go outside most days! But when I do, I come back in feeling lighter, and my head feels clearer. It doesn’t cure my burnout, but it does help alleviate it. I just feel calmer and less stressed, overall.
Read a Little Bit
When I’m feeling overwhelmed and burned out, my first inclination is to put on mindless TV or to scroll through TikTok, because I feel like my mind wants a break. But it usually ends up backfiring – I don’t really feel like I’ve had any sort of break, and my brain feels just as fuzzy and tired as before. When I read instead (which is something that I love doing, anyway), it feels like I’ve actually gotten a break from real life for a bit. I feel much more ready to get back to whatever work I should be doing. I just have to remind myself that I do actually want to read – once I start, I then have to force myself to stop!
When I’m really struggling, I’ll use timers – both for work, and for breaks. When I’m feeling burned out, getting started on work can feel almost insurmountable. So if I tell myself I should work for 30 minutes, and then I can take a 10 minute break, it makes it feel a lot more doable. Or I’ll tell myself I can read one more chapter, and then I have to work for the next two hours. Anything that helps set time limits and deadlines makes it feel a little bit easier.
Make Time for Friends
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I tend to become a little bit like a hermit, and really kind of curl up into myself. When everything feels overwhelming, reaching out to friends just feels like one more thing I have to do. But I know that actually, a quick FaceTime or text conversation helps me feel connected to the world and to my support systems. So I work hard to reply to those text messages and reach out to my friends for a quick hello.