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Suffering in Silence: Confessions of a Burnout

burnout art block avoiding burnout stress management freelance self employed working from home - stephanie male illustration

It’s so easy to become overloaded with work and life that you burnout completely.  You burn so fast and bright that you end up burning yourself out until you’re just a puddle of wax on the table. But feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated is only natural when your working 16hrs days, especially if your working from home, living in the same space you work.

I’ve personally been suffering a lot with burnout and stress, and I’m only just managing to crawl myself out of the empty void it causes. But here’s some ways I’ve found that helps relieve the exhaustion and the hair pulling moments.

So Maybe I’m not Okay.

Back in February, I was so motivated and inspired for my first convention at Cardiff Anime and Gaming con. I managed to get so much shit done, brand new comics, new prints; I was so excited to be working I didn’t see what was happening.

I ended up working so manically I didn’t see myself creeping into over the edge of exhaustion. After the adrenaline and excitement of the con subsided, the finally stress caught up with me and burnt straight through my motivation. I’d worked myself so hard, for so long that I had slammed myself straight into overload.

Suddenly everything halted.

Nothing was getting done.

No drawings, no social media, no hanging out with friends. No work. No fun.

Nothing. 

I became so emotionally and physically exhausted, that I started feeling less and less like myself. I went from doing everything, to doing fuck all. It wasn’t just that I wasn’t being a productive Artist, I literally mean everything stopped. I was so chronically lethargic that I could barely drag my ass to my daily-job. Drained of everything that I almost stopped caring about everything, almost complete detachment from myself. Even Netflix and Chill didn’t help.

Even when I tried to get back into things, I was finding it hard to concentrated. I was getting super anxious about everything, even just leaving for work to my daily-job was making me panic. I eventually started suffering with insomnia, and no matter how tired I became, sleep consistently eluded me. It all culminated in such a feeling of hopelessness, becoming immobilised, with the feeling of ‘What’s the point?’ and that was the shittiest feeling of them all.

After suffering in silence for a long while, I realized what was happening…again.

I am a Burnout Junkie.

It happens so often, I don’t know why I didn’t recognise the signs sooner. But I’ve finally opened my eyes and I’ve started to change things up in my life to improve my stress management and try to avoid burnout again. And it’s all starting to help, I mean just look. I’m writing a blog post, that wasn’t happening a few weeks ago. See, type type TYPE, more writing! Woop! Anyway, so here’s a few foolproof ways that’s chilled me out and helped me drag myself out of the stress I worked myself into.

6 ways to Conquer Burnout

Step Back and Reflect:

Take a moment, take two. Step outside of your head and work out what you want. What are your true goals in life? Not, just the bazillion tasks you’ve assigned yourself, but your bigger picture goals. The last thing we want to do is flail about taking on jobs because we think its the right thing to do, but is it really? Slow down and be deliberative in your decisions and actions. Self- reflection is healthy, so why aren’t you doing it more?

Define a Workspace:

It may sound trivial, but designating a workspace really helps, especially if you regularly work from home. Having a dedicated workspace puts you in the right mind frame, more work, less home. It reduces distractions, meaning you’ll be better with your time and productivity. No more 5mins working, 2hrs on facebook. You’ll be in a better mindset to be able to work harder, faster, without the added stress of knwoing you need to work harder. Knowing a specific space is for work only, really keeps you focused, even if just a small desk in the living room. Eventually your brain will naturally start working when you sit at your miniature office, without you forcing it to focus.

Establish boundaries and Get Organised:

Set some boundaries for yourself, only check emails at the start of the day, let your family know your working hours (and when not to bother you.) Create a schedule for yourself, but don’t forget to schedule breaks! Work for 2hrs have a 30min break. Hell, work for 1hr and take a 20min break. Just don’t overdue it and stress yourself out.

Get yourself organised, set out tasks and objectives, turn them into bitesize chunks. What can I achieve now? What can I leave for tomorrow? Aim for some easy wins if you’re feeling particularly crappy. Tick them off and you finish them. You’ll get a small sense of achievement with each completed task, no matter how small it is, and it’ll create a little headspace for you to write out your stresses. Bullet-jounralling is great for that. I found when I stopped or paused writing in my journal, my life to a disorganised shit show. I bought myself a new Leuchtturm1917 notebook, started a fresh bujo and I felt a sudden reinvigorating energy flow through me, like a full body sigh that I was finally stepping back onto my path.

Break up your routine. Exercise.

Instead of taking your breaks from work inside, go for a walk, sit in your garden. Do a quick Yoga session, I recommend Adriene’s Youtube channel.  Get some fresh air, breathe and stretch your muscles. Your brain isn’t the only one that needs working daily.

Sleep and Relax.

Now this is a bit of an odd one to put after exercise, but it’s just as important. Nobody can be a robot and work 24/7, everyone needs to refresh their batteries, otherwise work yourself into a hole. The average person needs 7-9 hrs a night, I went down to 3hrs for the last 2 months and felt like death. Turn off your phone and go to bed early. No social media before bed.

Find something relaxing to do to chill out and wind down. It can be netflix and chill, but don’t make that your go to. Its almost a relax these days, to relax in front of the TV, but screens before bed can actually affect your sleep patterns. I’ve recently rediscovered my love of reading and have been absorbing books with a passion, it’s been brilliant. I think it’s one of the main things that chilled me out enough I’ve felt ready to tackle my burnout and kick it to the curb.

 

Alright, so that quickly turned into a mega post. I hope this helps with your stress management and burnout issues, remember everyone suffers from it, its only natural. I’d love to hear how you get along and if my tips have helped. Do you do anything differently? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Thank for reading!

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1 Comment

  1. Top 3 YA Fantasy to escape from reality. – Stephanie Male

    17th July 2018 at 7:12 pm

    […] mentioned in my last post that relaxing and reading helped me to chill the frick out. Well I’m going to start to give […]

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