We often think of burnout as an extremely dramatic and decisive thing. As if we just come in from work one day, collapse and never get up again.
But burnout isn’t always so obvious. It’s actually when it sneaks up on you that it poses the biggest threat.
Your focus begins to fade. You’re more easily distracted, you feel tired all the time, and you look at work you were once so excited for with a dull and heavy sense of obligation. And it only gets worse. Your diminishing motivation and drive means you gradually fall further and further behind.
You need a break because you’re stressed but you can’t take one because you’re behind. It’s a vicious cycle.
My Experience With Burnout
As a ‘push on until you collapse and only stop when you do’ kind of person, I have spent my life believing that I can’t afford to take a break.
I’ve somehow convinced myself that if I step back, then the whole world and everything I’ve worked for will come crashing down around me. In fact, the closer I get to burnout, the further I get from feeling like it’s time to rest. So I push on until I’m forced to stop. Flat on my back and completely out of steam, I’m left with no choice.
Not only is this extremely unhealthy, but it also means that I have no sense of control. My life tells me when to take a break, when really it should be the other way around.
All On or All Off
I’ve written about the importance of slowing down before, but as solid as my intentions were, I could never seem to follow through with it.
The thing is, when I’m on, I’m 100% on. This made me realise that if I’m ever going to be ‘able’ to take a break, then I need to go all in. I need to be 100% off. Not an hour here or there or a day every once in a while but a full week. A week off.
So that’s exactly what I’m doing. All commitments cancelled. No daily, no weekly, no nothing. Just seven days of rest and relaxation, as well as a vow to take a week off every seven weeks in the future.
Protecting Your Passion
And no, I wasn’t originally going to write this blog post. A week off is a week off, I told myself. But then I realised that I didn’t need to talk about this, I wanted to.
Because in a world where busyness is applauded, we don’t talk about rest enough. It’s all productivity tips and how to focus faster and work harder. We live in a world that shames us for not ‘keeping busy’ while entirely missing the bigger picture.
Your passion is worth protecting and knowing when to rest plays a huge part in that.
Slowing down seems counterintuitive when you love what you do. But the fact is we all need a break from work and being creative is no exception. We’re just as susceptible to burnout as the next person, we’re just rubbish at realising it.
So here’s to realising that all work and no play is not the greatest recipe for success… and to a week spent reading, walking, writing songs and generally just indulging in a little bit of me time.
I’ll see you next week!
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