Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Looking for Balance and Finding Burnout?

burnout and exhaustion
Coffee breaks are a common pause in my daily routine, and give me the respite I need from the day's work load.
How do you give yourself a break during the day?

Last month my life took an unexpected turn. 

Generally, I'm a do-it-myself kind of person: I clean my own space, make my own meals, do my own taxes.  Is it due to principle?  Thrift?  An independent streak?  I don't know really.  Maybe a mixture of all three.   

However, a series of events recently compelled me to behave quite out of character.  

As I'd just moved into a new neighborhood, I asked my roommate where he does his laundry.  He recommended a place across the street.  The following morning I lugged my huge laundry bag down fourteen flights (on an elevator) and across a congested street only to discover it was FULL SERVICE!!!! 

I didn't exactly see an out (I had places to go and people to see, you see), so I paid the extra for full service, handed over my laundry, and was on my way.

When I returned at the end of my long, hard day, I found a bag of clean, freshly-folded laundry awaiting me. 

It was AWESOME. 

Zomg, I'm now a full-service laundry devotee.  An evangelist, even.  If you're doing your own laundry right now: reconsider!  A new, full life awaits you where you'll have everything nice and clean and folded, at no extra energy to you! 

Do You Feel the Burnout?

I recently came across Helen Peterson's article “The Burnout Generation” on Audible.  It first appeared in Buzzfeed in January of this year.  She writes about an epidemic of burnout among millennials. (And this doesn't only apply to millennials!)  Here's an excerpt: 
I was deep in a cycle of a tendency, developed over the last five years, that I’ve come to call “errand paralysis.” I’d put something on my weekly to-do list, and it’d roll over, one week to the next, haunting me for months. 
None of these tasks were that hard: getting knives sharpened, taking boots to the cobbler, registering my dog for a new license, sending someone a signed copy of my book, scheduling an appointment with the dermatologist, donating books to the library, vacuuming my car. A handful of emails — one from a dear friend, one from a former student asking how my life was going — festered in my personal inbox, which I use as a sort of alternative to-do list, to the point that I started calling it the “inbox of shame.”
Can you relate?    

Peterson says that simply taking time off doesn't alleviate burnout—it actually stems from a seemingly inescapable mental work load, caused by the sensation that we're always within reach of work via e-mail and messenger Apps.  Burnout is a medical condition, similar to chronic fatigue syndrome. 

The closest I came to feeling burnt-out was at the end of one summer when I felt too exhausted even to brush my teeth.  I took a two week staycation--lots of hiking, sleeping, and reading.  After that I felt much better.

A Cure for Burnout?

In her essay, Peterson mostly explores the causes of burnout. However, she does suggest that making a small change, such as deleting email and messenger Apps on your phone, significantly eases-up the mental work load we carry around. 

Although I wouldn't say I'm burnt-out at the moment, the litany of little tasks that need to get done (laundry, errands, face-washing, meal-prep, exercise) consume a lot of time and mental energy. 

And hiring out my laundry is one small thing that will make a big difference. 

Finding Some Relief 

What do you do when you're at the end of your rope? 

Have you ever made major changes in your lifestyle due to burnout or exhaustion?  Or can something simple, like a facial or sleeping in, bring you back around? 


  1. I'm not sure I've actually gotten to the point of true burnout but I've flirted with it a good bit. I'm definitely guilty of putting off the little things until the very last minute. I just made an appointment for a massage for tomorrow (I mean, this post reminded me I needed to do it if I expected to get in for tomorrow) :/ I love the idea of having someone else do things for me (cleaning, cooking, laundry) but I'm definitely budget-aware so I do them myself. Some days when I get home from work at 6:30 I just think, "I want a glass of wine and to be left alone to do nothing." .... and then the dogs and cat and husband want attention and that's that. This is a great post, Julie, and I'm going to have to find "The Burnout Generation" and have a listen (I'm not a Millenial but I think we can all benefit from this - maybe before we get to the point of burnout).


    1. Thank you for your nice comment, Ruth. A dog & a cat & a husband: that's a lot of looking after to do! A Saturday massage sounds like an excellent idea.

  2. Burnout is a serious thing, especially when you're not giving yourself enough time for self-care. It is great that there are services out there to help you make your life easier. I mean, the little things make a big difference. I know people who hire services such as this to help offload the stress. Also why some managers or above have assistants, to help avoid the burnout. I found cutting my usage of social media being super helpful! I mean, cutting out facebook helped my scrolling time by a ton. Thanks for sharing these tips :)!

    Nancy ♥

    1. I cut out Facebook, too, Nancy. It was hard at first but now I'm so glad I did it!

  3. Oh thanks for share the small asdvices about the burnout~


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