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Ashlee (she/her)
Ashlee (she/her)

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

How to Come out of Burnout

Originally posted on my personal blog site.

To be completely honest: I have no idea what the answer is here. I don't think there's just one correct answer. Burnout is so unique to every individual, which become more obvious to me after I asked my followers about how they cope with feeling uninspired:

Some people take a break, some try to push through, and a lot of people said that they try to consume inspiring content.

This isn't the first time I've gone through burnout. It also happened at the beginning of this year when I finally figured out I needed a different work environment. With less than a year of professional experience at the time, I knew I'd have to work hard if I wanted to stand out from other folks with more years of experience. That's when I started writing more, networking on Twitter, and learning out loud.

Along the way, I discovered how much work there is to be done in my local community (and the world 🤯) when it comes to web accessibility. In the developer community, a lot of folks are under the impression that accessibility is hard or expensive. Outside of it, people are ignorant to how accessibility tools, such as screen readers, actually work and ableism is rampant.

When news about the [Supreme Court rejecting an appeal from Domino's] came out, it was really exciting to hear, until I read the comments. There were far too many people with far too little understanding of web accessibility sharing their opinions on whether or not companies should be sued for making inaccessible products. I tried to do my part in educating people by explaining that screen readers only read things correctly if a site is built to work with tools. I also argued with people about whether or not discrimination should be legal.

My overwhelming need to speak and educate along with the incredible amount of ableism I've come across in the last several weeks are what I think have mostly contributed to the burnout I'm experiencing. It's vastly different from the burnout I experienced earlier this year. As such, I had no idea how to fix it. I fell into this cycle of feeling guilty for not writing or coding on side projects, which led to feeling even more burned out.

So what's starting to bring me out of this now?

  • 🗣️ talking about it
  • 🤝️ supportive friends
  • taking a break
  • 🧶 hours of knitting
  • inspirational content

If you're struggling with burnout, I suggest trying all of these things. Some of them will work and some of them won't. Everyone is different and even every time you experience burnout can be different. The people who matter will understand what you're going through. The ones who don't might judge you and try to make you feel bad rather than lend a hand.

Stick around the folks that lend a hand and support you. They'll see you through this. You'll make it to the other side.

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Image by Elijah O'Donnell on Unsplash

Top comments (8)

ssimontis profile image
Scott Simontis

I just accepted not programming that much outside of work. Obviously I'm right here, but I check the site on my phone once a day tops now.

I've started creating music, doing a lot more work on my car, reconnecting with friends, finding more activities I can do outside and traveling more.

Someone out there will always be a better programmer than me. I keep up with tech enough to be effective at my job but beyond that I realized I was way too obsessed with programming. It was essentially an addictive behavior for me.

Your mileage may vary, but there's an infinite world outside of programming I feel that we owe it to ourselves to explore.

selahattinunlu profile image
Selahattin Ünlü

Dude, I had started to make music as well! I'm trying EDM what about you :)

ssimontis profile image
Scott Simontis

Nice! I am a huge Anjunabeats fan and have the logo tattooed on my arm.

Working on a fusion of hip-hop, emo and some analog synthesizers. I would describe it as Lil Peep meets Crystal Castles.

steeve profile image
Steeve • Edited

I never experienced burnout whereas I'm doing a important work volume during my spare time or work time, here my strategies:

  • I try to savour and celebrate every small success with my friends/colleagues/Family or alone. It could be programming or something else about my life => cheers 🍻
  • I define and smash small goals everyday and it remind me my long term goals. I just want move forward and it's good to feel I'm getting closer everyday.
  • When I'm feeling tired (I'm not a robot yet 🤖), it's time to chill and relax by doing something I love or nothing at all.
  • Sometime it's hard... it's good to stop and call/meet somebody I love. Then I tell them how much I appreciate them. I truly believe there's somebody ready to listen to us and help us in this planet of 7.5 billions wonderful peoples.
  • Failures are good, it's just a new experience and that bring us back on track.
  • Most of our inquiries will never happen.
  • Say no is good (also difficult).

My comment is really optimistic because I try to keep and share a positive vision. 🤗

Cheers Ashlee for your article 🍻

selahattinunlu profile image
Selahattin Ünlü • Edited

My List:

  • Don't force yourself to write code after work
  • Make music
  • Play game
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Swimming (4 days a week)

To gain motivation again:

  • I challenge to myself.

For example, I saw that animation last days
I said to myself "Why I'm not trying to build that awesome animation from scratch without using any 3rd party library?" Boom... I'm learning SVG, mathematics, geometry, linear interpolation, Bézier curve etc to build that animation nowadays. :)

I think we need to mix some other science into programming to gain motivation again. It works for me at least. Because I'm self-taught developer, so I don't have CS Degree. And I've been building websites, web applications for years. I've realized that I need to learn something difference. So I've started to study Computer Science online.

My goal is improving my self in Computer Science and Mathematics right now. I can study physics maybe after that.

I don't want to stick between billions new JavaScript frameworks or libraries any more! :)))

I want to learn more general, language-framework agnostics things any more

256hz profile image
Abe Dolinger

It sounds to me like your drive to be of service to others is being sapped by a lack of self-care. It's okay to not educate everyone in the comments (except on Dev, no one comes to the comments to learn). It's okay to not go full steam on side projects every day.

More importantly, your work will be much better and more valuable when you feel good about and take care of yourself. Being burned out doesn't make you a bad person! You're human, too, and you deserve breaks and care.

I think the energy to help others will return when you feel rested and comfortable in your day-to-day. There are a lot of things you could try there, like meditation, exercise, hobbies, reading, cooking, etc. Something that is just for you.

joshduffney profile image
Josh Duffney

Great article Ashlee, thank you for posting this. I 100% agree with the notion of taking breaks. The struggle shortly after that is dealing with the time that creates. I still struggle with the feeling of not being "productive"... Getting away from the screen and reading has helped me a ton. The book that has helped me the most is, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.

ivorsco77 profile image
Ivor Scott

The secret is sleep.