A Bit About Burnout

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about burnout, I’ve had a couple of encounters with it in the last year myself and also a few people close to me have found themselves struggling internally after working too hard. I don’t really have any advice to give – the advice I offer to myself is to know my own limitations, know when I am close to them and need to tread carefully, and to stand up for myself against the sources of stress or overwork if the need arises.

However it happens, the question a burned-out person seems to ask is “how long will I feel this way?” and there is no quantifiable answer, and no guaranteed cure for that dragging fatigue. Most of the advice I’ve heard revolves around “get a hobby” – this time around I realised what I needed to hear was “give yourself permission to waste time”. The first one I don’t have a problem with, anyone who knows me knows I’m a live wire and always doing 6 things at once. The second one … that’s the killer.

Earlier in the year I did a lot of travel for a particular work project, at a time when my diary was already pretty full and I was preparing for a big conference. With one thing and another, by the time it was all over, I realised I needed to make some changes. Lots of elements of my life – friends, family, relationship and health – had all taken a beating while I was off dealing with all that I needed to do, and I realised there was a lot to do to get myself to where I wanted to be on all those other fronts. Last week I realised that although it took 10 weeks, now I feel like myself, finally picking up the strands of hobbies and having the energy to contribute to things that once interested me. Its not a big chunk of time to spend “healing” and I am glad now that I did step away, allow myself to vegetate and chill out with those close to me instead of being driven all the time to the next thing on the list.

Most of all – I hope other people come through the experience as unscathed as I have, and that I learned something for next time.

3 thoughts on “A Bit About Burnout

  1. Chris: Thanks for pointing to the A List Apart article – a few people sent me that when I was having a hard time and its a great article. Here’s hoping you can say you’ve survived your experience in the longer term

  2. I’m struggling with a burnout at the moment. The worst thing is when you cannot simply afford ‘wasting time’ and taking a rest. In my case it’s also that when I start chiling out, I immediately have bad feelings about it, feel guilty and anxious. That’s when a workoholic has a burnout. How long can it last?

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