Response: “On burnout.”

Be aware this is a draft post — please adjust your expectations accordingly. Get in touch if this post could use an improvement.

This post is in response to Kev Quirk’s On Burnout.

I heavily resonated with it and thought I’d list a few small things that somewhat appear to work for me. I also must add that I too do not know if it is burnout, depression, anxiety, something else, long-COVID, medications, COVID-precautions-related burnout, quarter/midlife crises… I just do not know.

Like Kev, I took a whole week off recently. There simply was very little to no work that was being done. In a dramatic fashion, I took some time off to try to “organize” and “fix” my life. Rookie mistake, maybe?

Both of us also had COVID-19 recently. Who knows? There is some preliminary data indicating it can exacerbate depression and anxiety in patients who were already suffering from it.

I would say having a patient employer/boss can also make a huge difference while you work through something like this.

And for the word of advice…

  • Setting aside small gifts as a treat if I finish X task by Y time. Take great care to keep X small and win-able for a few days, minimum. I usually prefer a couple of pieces of chocolate.
    • This does require discipline because you’re not allowed to have it if X doesn’t complete by Y. No, you cannot just have it because you’re an adult now, and you do what you want. No.
  • Be your own rubber duck. You’re not exactly debugging anything. It just helps for me to speak out what I’m supposed to do next, or what I am doing at the given moment. This helps me overcome some detachment from work.
  • I also promise myself I’d finish at least This One Small Thing any given day. That takes a lot of pressure off me for that day. Then it feels easier to go beyond.
  • I’ve also started adhering to Screen Time on my phone. All my shopping and social media apps are on it. No more “Remind in 15 minutes” or “Ignore limit for today.” I feel like it’s been rewiring my brain recently, and I can sense it.

Lastly, I’ve been constantly reminding myself that sometimes you just have to be at it for long enough that the “phase” passes over. This is where habits come into play.

My therapist recently asked why I was taking my medication even if I didn’t want to. I said, “I guess it’s habit?”

Her response?

“Let’s just use the habit, then.”

None of this really helps with the underlying feeling, but it helps me get by and function at a somewhat acceptable level. I think that’s equally important.


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