Everybody deals with burnout eventually. I don’t care if you blog for a living or you are Metallica’s drummer, it’s going to happen. My second job out of college was really mentally draining. Let me just be blunt, it friggin’ sucked. I was a support tech for an internet provider and we had a lot of customers that needed support. Believe me, they likely needed more than tech support. Anyway, I was basically on the phone for almost 8 hours solid everyday. One call after another waiting in queue. Sometimes I did 12 hour shifts if we were short staffed and I was like a zombie when it was time to clock out. This was what I imagined hell being like. Coworkers and I often joked that if you want to make terrorists talk at Guantanamo Bay, make them do phone tech support for awhile.
Somehow I kept it together and did this job for about 3 years. It’s amazing what people will do for money, isn’t it? Imagine helping your grandma over the phone with her internet troubles. Make it worse, imagine somebody else’s grandma with little patience, limited knowledge and she’s not treating you like her precious grandson. Ugh! Can you tell that I’m still not over it? When I quit that job for another, I cashed out about a month’s worth of vacation time I had saved up. In hindsight I should have probably used that time off for my own sanity in those days.
After dealing with that nonsense, I’ve come to the conclusion that finding ways to avoid burnout is a major key to life. If you don’t, you are going to be one unhappy camper. Burnout can also lead to depression and take you down a dark road if not remedied. Let’s go over some ways to avoid it.
1. Find a New Job
Let’s start with the most extreme (and effective) solution. If possible, do away with the main source of burnout and find something new. I probably stayed at the job I mentioned earlier about two years too long. One year was about enough to gain the most valuable experience which was how to interact and deal with all sorts of personalities. The other two years were pure misery for the most part. I realize we all have to make a living but please avoid being totally miserable at work. Life is too short and I learned my lesson.
2. Use Your Vacation Time to Avoid Burnout
Don’t be like the old me and hoard your vacation time. Use that stuff and live a little. Go somewhere fun, get out of town. Or if you’d rather, keep it local and make it a staycation. Whatever it takes to keep your tail out of the office and off your phone looking through work email for a week or two. I used to take pride in how much PTO I had built up, like a badge of honor or something. Yeah that was dumb and ill-advised. The lack of time away from the office (and a shitty job) made me into a pissed off, irritable person. Sorry Mrs. DS!
These days I usually keep a couple weeks of vacation at my disposal for emergencies and the rest is spent on family vacations, hunting, long weekends, or whatever else might come up. Soon it will be sporting events for my son I imagine. Not to wish time away but I’m looking forward to the kid activities. Well except for the events that are a 6 hour drive, yikes.
3. Increase Your Physical Activity
I try to work out hard for at least an hour every day which allows me to have somewhat of a mental reset on the day. My gears are always grinding so that hour away to zone out is huge for me. Some people like running, tennis, racquetball, boxing. Whatever it is you are into, get that ticker moving. You will most likely feel so much better afterwards and you can get rid of some of that pent up workplace frustration.
There have been many studies done showing how effective exercise is for dealing with burnout and stress. If you have not tried it yet, hit the heavy bag in the gym for 10 minutes the next time you get your ass chewed by your boss. Ahhhhhhh, much better!
4. Go Outside And Get Some Fresh Air
Most of us that are still working for the man are probably indoors way too much. I am glued to my office chair for most of the workday. Albeit in the comforts of my own house at least. When we had our dog, we had a strict routine of a three mile walk every night. It was great for the dog and for us honestly. Now we have a rambunctious toddler that demands to be outside on his swing set. Hey that counts too. I would advise at least an hour outdoors everyday during the workweek and much more on the weekends! Granted this becomes more challenging for us as we turn to winter here in the frozen tundra. I guess shoveling snow does count as outdoor time and physical activity. Two birds with one stone!
I’m really looking forward to doing some hunting the next three weekends with my dad. There will be minimal TV watching and little time in front of a computer. My eyes, body, and mind will feel refreshed when I come back!
5. Pursue A Creative Outlet
I am pleasantly surprised at how fun blogging has been. It kind of brings me back to the level of creativity we have as kids. Creativity seems to get lost along the way. Creating content, making new friends and building up following, is all fun stuff. Blogging is something to look forward to, a diversion away from the monotony of the day job. Alternatively, I know several people who find their outlet through music. Whether it is just jamming out on a guitar at home or playing small gigs at bars, that is their therapy outlet. There are many forms of expression out there, find yours and dig in. You might even be able to make some side hustle money from your endeavors!
Everybody Is Unique, Find What Works For You
My extroverted friends have extremely different methods to recharge in comparison to me. Large gatherings and crowds excite them and is exactly what they need. On the other hand, I would be in tip top shape after spending a weekend without saying a word to anyone if my family happens to be out of town. Weird? But it works for me. What works for you?