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Cover image for I took a break to fight burnout

I took a break to fight burnout

aviaryan profile image Avi Aryan ・2 min read

Burnout. Chances are, most of you are familiar with it. But for someone new to this career, an introduction is due.

Burnout is a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. Often you don’t realize when it starts happening. Finding why it is happening is even harder. It is very common in our field of work.

Our jobs require us to work from a computer, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Humans weren’t like this until the last 150 years or so. So a 9-5 office desk schedule is un-natural. But that’s not it.

Our work can get repetitive over time. This creates boredom and lethargy. It can also get challenging at times, leaving us mentally exhausted after a full day of work. If many such days go by, the mental damage compounds.

Similarly, our work requires minimum physical movements. This creates a feedback loop of reducing physical movements. Soon we find ourselves not wanting to do large physical movements. This tricks us into thinking we are physically exhausted.

If you are a remote worker, the lack of human interaction can make you socially inept. Humans are social creatures. Lack of social interactions makes us feel emotionally drained.

So burnout is inevitable in this career. Learning to recognize it or avoid it altogether is KEY.

I realized I was getting into a similar situation recently. So I decided to take a 7-day leave. I did no work at that time. This worked wonders. I felt recharged and was looking forward to getting back to work by the 4th day. After coming back, the results spoke for themselves.

So if you feel similar, take a break. Try a 2-day complete disconnect from work for starters. I am sure it will help you. If it doesn’t, try a longer break.

There are also ways to reduce burnout on a day to day basis.

You can join a gym or put something physical into your routine. This will help you act more like humans from 150 years ago, tricking your brain into feeling more okay.

You can also start a hobby apart from work. A hobby which doesn’t involve computers. Think gardening, cooking, playing music.

Competing in a sport or activity works even better. Since you are competing, you want to win. You will be 100% attentive when you do that activity. This guarantees that you will disconnect from work, giving you a proper break.

These are my top tricks to beat burnout. What are you doing to beat this devil?


First published in my newsletter.

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aviaryan profile

Avi Aryan

@aviaryan

Full-Stack Web Engineer at Toptal

Discussion

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Nice topic to touch. What about when 7 days are not even close to sufficient? 🙄

 

It depends on why you got burned out and where you are in life.

Possible answers

  1. Negotiate for a more sane workweek (or do the change yourself if you are self-employed).

  2. Change job (or outsource/scrap/sell that business).

  3. Include a fun hobby in your routine.

  4. Keep remembering why you are going through this in the first place. It could be because of urgent bills to pay, family financial situation, etc.

 

Those are good bullets. My point is that if you have burned out (at least in my experience), not even a month of rest can help you recover. And of course this month is most of the times infeasible to be granted.

Good point. Fortunately, I haven't been that burned out so I can't relate.

Still, remembering why you are going through this situation might help, and striving every day, ever so slightly to improve your situation. 🙏🏾