Burnout… Not just a lackluster video game, also a debilitating fallout from overworking yourself in poor conditions.
Since becoming a designer I’ve experienced it less and less but before then, it happened on an almost weekly basis. Burnout gets in the way of best laid plans. Often times I would plan out my day after a sleepless night of worry but the brick wall would have run at me by the time I had my morning coffee.
Once that happens, no matter how much I tried to get on with my work, I would feel depleted, defeated and apathetic to my financial and physical health. My mental health eroded and I would start to spiral.
This is a situation that those I’m close to have faced as well, which causes a heavy heart. With my unfortunate experience in dealing with burnout I have some tips that have helped me move forward and get back to enjoying my life.
Give yourself some set down time
What sent me into a spiral was thinking that in order to succeed I had to always be working. Makes sense, right? There are only 24 hours in a day and you need to use them all to move ahead in the world.
You will move ahead in the world if you actually enjoy the world you live in. Working long hours will cause resentment and will clog your mind. Burnout swoops in when your mind is clogged, because you don’t have the mental capacity to fend it off.
Do one thing you enjoy every day. Doesn’t have to be much, could be dancing around to music, watching an episode of a tv show you forgot to binge or, my personal favorite, take yourself out of a date (Lord knows I love food, so the ceremony of eating has always soothed me).
What ever you choose, understand that its important that you are doing it and that it isn’t a waste of time.
Have one thing to look forward to at the end of the day
I used to work for a place that I really disliked (actually I’ve worked for several, but I digress) and that really led to daily burnout. I’d begrudgingly wake up, work, eat at my desk, work more and then head home to eat a cheap meal and then go to bed. My self loathing and depression was amplified by doing this.
How did I get through it, I took up pixel art. Each day I would look forward to making some pixel art. I would sketch out what I would do while I was heading to and from work and during my lunch. Having something that I enjoyed doing to look forward to kept me from spiralling. Nowadays I do either pixel art or 3d modelling.
The point is to have something to look forward to, find something easy to accomplish in a few hours (Or something you can work on throughout the week, the point is that you can complete something)
Talk with others
We are social beasts, we may be energised from internal or external factors but socialising with others can absolutely help. Talk to a family member, maybe a cousin you haven’t seen in a while. Talk with friends, arrange a time to catch up (This can double as something you can look forward to)
This will also get you out of your own head and make you feel less isolated and alone.
You don’t have to even talk about what you are feeling, you can be the one who asks the questions and let them do most of the talking.
Is the present pain worth the future pleasure
When I was feeling burnout most of all was when I was a filmmaker, obviously that line of work wasn’t for me. That took me some time in order to convince myself that that was the case. I was a proud and depressive young man, I thought I could get through it.
You have to know when to hold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run, as the saying goes.
I walked away from that industry and found real happiness with design. The take away is to question whether you are doing the thing with your time, cause if you aren’t, you’ve got to change that. I’m not saying quit tomorrow. But have the plan to quit laid out. You deserve to be happy.
The way you are feeling during burnout is not who you are
When you have been experiencing burnout for a long period of time you may start to feel like this is what life is going to be like from now on. Don’t worry, it won’t be, I promise. You should start to feel better when you start following the above tips. As you move forward you’ll start to feel like the person you truly are.
Eat, sleep, exercise and don’t drink
This is a tip for burnout, stress and anxiety and has helped me countless times. When you are feeling the burn…out have a filling meal, go for a run, try and get a good night’s sleep and take a break from coffee and alcohol until you are in a better place. You’ll feel better centred and more attuned .
I’m not a health care professional, I’m a autodidact designer who’s had a few rounds in the ring and many more to come. I do want to help people, that’s why I’m sharing with you, the reader.
We are all in this together.