We have all talked about it. It has leaked into discord servers, Facebook Groups, and Instagram DMs. It has creeped across anonymous message boards and has been whispered about between friends. Your favorite bloggers, vloggers, streamers, and influencers all eventually experience it. I’m talking about burn out.
If you Google burn out, you’ll find all sorts of articles on what it is and its symptoms. What is a bit harder to find is what to do about it. Sure, there’s cutesy articles on self care, but what do you do when an animal sheet mask doesn’t fix your problem? And how many times can we read to “reduce stress” in a single article? Sometimes self care just isn’t that easy.
Writing used to bring you immense joy; now you dread looking at your blog’s dashboard. Gaming used to fill your nights with laughter and jump scares; now your console has turned into a Netflix machine. Reading used to bring your imagination to life; now you can’t get more than a few pages in before you’re putting the book down. You can no longer find joy in hobbies you used to love. What’s a geek to do?
I wish I could tell you I had the answer. I wish I could say I took this magical pill and suddenly everything was thrilling and new again. In reality, I laid in bed crying one Sunday night to my husband, saying I didn’t know what to do. I felt pulled in every direction. He said I needed to take some time off, so I did. I took about a month off from blogging and YouTube.
What came next are the steps I’m about to share with you. I give credit to my husband for giving me the advice that turned into this process of getting over burn out. Will these work for everyone? Probably not. What they can do is give you the stepping stones to take a look at your situation and re-evaluate so that you can move past burn out.
Take a Break
This should be everyone’s first step. Anything that you can take a break from, please do it. Take paid time off of work if possible, alert your followers that you will be taking a hiatus, and give your friends and family a heads up that you will be absent from social media. Do what you need to make sure you honor your break, even if that means deleting apps and not participating in collaborations or challenges (because we know FOMO is a real thing). Take the steps necessary to bring your day back to simplicity and only do what you absolutely need to do.
Modify Your Current Schedule
Speaking of bringing your day back to simplicity… During your break, I highly recommend writing down your current schedule and crossing out everything that is not necessary. That means blogging, vlogging, filming, editing, scheduling posts, social media management, etc. Focus on what you need to do like eating, hitting up the gym, sleeping, going to work, spending time with friends and family, and, most importantly, taking time for yourself.
Don’t Force It
So many times when we find that hobbies don’t bring us the same happiness they used to, we try to force ourselves to continue to sit them those hobbies. It’s not fair to yourself or your hobbies to do this. Instead, I recommend taking a break from any hobbies that are no longer bringing you joy. You don’t have to give them up! Try focusing on other aspects of your life that may be lacking (like the gym or sleep). You will find the love you had for those hobbies will come back.
Rule of Three
I’ve seen this advice presented in so many ways, but my husband broke it down to me a way I hadn’t heard before when I was expressing my frustration with having 30 blog post drafts and zero motivation to finish any of them. He said pick three that I felt the most drawn toward and then narrow it down to one to finish. Continue that process, eliminating drafts I was no longer passionate about, until I have my drafts organized in a way that feels less stressful. Another way to look at the Rule of 3 is to do three things today on your to do list. Or take three minutes to do a chore around the house. It’s such a versatile way of doing things that you can really apply it in so many ways!
Dip Your Toes Back In
Now that your break is over, it’s time to get right back into the swing of things! Right?! Not so fast. It’s not wise to go right back to old habits when those habits burned you out in the first place. Instead, slowly start adding back to your modified schedule. See what you would like to prioritize (after your needs). Find what makes you feel motivated and passionate. Focus on that before adding back in everything you had on your plate to begin with. Once you are confident in how you are handling that, you can judge for yourself how much you’re willing to add back into your life and what you need to let go of.
I want to wrap this up with how I applied these tips do my recent mental health break in May. The first thing I did was take a break. No surprise there if you follow me on WordPress or any of my social media accounts. It was really hard to make the choice to step away when I feel like my blog is/was doing incredibly well. I knew that for my blog to continue to grow, I had to take a break. So I spent Monday crafting a post to explain my absence and then I posted that to all of my social media accounts.
When I went home that afternoon, I took a look at my schedule and crossed out everything unnecessary. This left me with work, minimal meal prep, time with my husband, sessions with my trainer, and walking our dog. Then I took an extra step and made a to do list of everything I have put off around the house and in my life because of my burn out. The goal of this list was not to make me stress out during this time away, but to use my new found time to get a few necessary things done.
With all of this new free time on my hands, I found that I had a little tiny sliver of motivation! Instead of forcing myself to play a game from my backlog or a game that I left unfinished, I turned to an old favorite: Animal Crossing. I also wrote when I wanted to instead of feeling like I had to just to meet my self imposed deadlines. I filmed more for my Let’s Play of Rule of Rose which felt really good, too. It’s amazing what happens when you have the freedom to do what you want.
My husband’s “rule of three” turned out to be the best advice I took during my break. I did use it to address my drafts folder, but I also used it for my YouTube video ideas! I used it when addressing my daily to do lists, sorting and listing my Poshmark inventory, and even while meal planning/prepping. I plan on using it often, even now that my mental health break is over.
The very last thing I’m doing is slowly re-introducing blogging and YouTube as well as my hobbies back into my life. I have no plans on completely cutting out anything out, but I do plan on coming up with new and better schedule for my blog posts and YouTube videos. I also want to start setting time aside for myself. If I want to play a game, read a book, thrift, or just catch up on Netflix, I am free to do those things.
Overall, my break was exactly what I needed and allowed me to look at my life in a different way. This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced burn out, and I know it won’t be the last, unfortunately. As humans, we often find ourselves stuck in a rut of trying to one-up ourselves, over achieving where we can, and people-pleasing. I hope anyone that is reading this that is feeling the effects of burn out can take my tips and apply them in a way that helps them overcome their own burn out.
If you are currently struggling with your mental health, please reach out to a friend/family member family and check out these resources:
- Hotline Numbers
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – by State List
- Mental Health America (MHA) – by State List
- Top 25 HelpLine Resources
Have you ever experienced burn out? What did you do? Share some advice in the comments that has helped you!
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