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Tai Kedzierski
Tai Kedzierski

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Burnout? Take a moment to shut out expectations

TL;DR - If you're constantly worn out by small, everyday things, you might be burning out. Take time for yourself and set no expectations.

Yesterday was World Mental Health Awareness Day. As I've previously quipped it really should be a year-round effort, as it has a tendancy to affect all of us at several points in our lives - and I'm pretty sure we all know someone who, right now, could do with a bit of being understood.

I wanted to just jot my thoughts on how I got into a burnout - and how I've dealt with depressive nosedives and burnout bouts.

How did I get to burnout?

If you're feeling continually overwhelmed or persistently tired, it's a possible sign of burnout. Been there, done that myself...

For me, it happened whilst I was still trying to build my career in tech. I was doing the day job in tech, managing servers and writing deployment code, and in the evening I was writing Minetest mods and managing game servers.

I took a week-long holiday at one point to do three projects - introductories to Angular.js, Vue.js, and Android SDK development.

I went to tech meetups, ran a tech meetup, and more.

There is only so much a person can do before they have no energy left.

When do I know I have burnout?

Burnout shares some things in common with depression, one of which is the sheer overwhelmingness of mundane, everyday life: things you enjoyed become a chore; things you were good at become difficult or even insurmountable; you wish someone else would go to the fridge for you (seriously.)

If anything is starting to feel difficult where it shouldn't be, keep an eye on yourself. Make sure work breaks happen away from screens. Be selective about social engagements.

I manage now to recognise when I've overloaded myself, and make a point of offloading things. If it's for organising events and people, I take notes, set up calls/prep emails and hand the knowledge over to someone else. I still answer questions, but I become a background contributor.

If it's my own projects, I re-asses to see what I truly want to do, and what was taken on "just for funsies."

And then I spend time on me.

For me, burnout is as much about "trying too hard to do too much" as "expecting too much of myself."

What to do?

What you choose to do will vary on your comfort level and where you're at. There's no sure-fire solution - just suggestions for actions which you can pick and choose for yourself.


  • Talk to a close friend - someone who knows you and who can empathise with you
  • Talk to someone you barely know - someone (kind) who can just listen to you without judgement. You'll rarely ever cross paths again
  • Talk to your pet - it loves you, always
  • Talk to a rubber duck - it never judges
  • Talk to a fictional character. A kind one, preferably. Gandalf, perhaps.

Take time out

  • do housework to a "that'll do" state - something you can get quick, small wins in, especially if things have piled up
  • go on a walk to nowhere in particular - get outside, do something different
    • just round the block, or up the street and back
    • or up that hill, or along that coastline
    • or a bicycle ride, why not!
  • hide under the duvet with your favorite binge:
    • that book you always return to
    • that awesome video game you've already completed a hundred times
    • that series binge you've been meaning to give yourself
    • your favorite indoor solo activity, of any kind...


  • write - or paint or doodle.
    • Write an unapologetically amateur poem
    • Splotch colours onto a big piece of paper
    • Draw the perfect square, with perfect, scribbly shading
    • Throw it away afterwards.
  • dance - move and flail and sweat. Be the unequivocable star of your own show.
  • meditate - be still, seek peace in quietude. Tune the world out.
  • do a crafts project
    • paint a pot or cup with a hilariously bad combo of coulours
    • tie weird knots into some spare string...
    • make some simple food like pasta with salt and butter/drippings, or scrambled eggs with paprika/herbs
    • -> something you can do whilst your mind wanders into a podcast...
  • Sing - in the kitchen, in the shower, in the car ... be your own rock/pop/rap star for an while
  • reserve a karaoke booth for just yourself, and scream into the void. Whatever works for you.

What I'm pretty sure is most important is that whatever you choose to do, you should do it with the minimum amount of expectations possible - from others, and from yourself

Social engagements are expectations. Goals are expectations. Normative standards are expectations. Instruction manuals expect a correct outcome.

Give yourself a space and an activity that has no expectations for success or completion:

Do something where there is no lower bar to call "failure."

And when you've done it, know that You've done it for You.

Top comments (5)

ingosteinke profile image
Ingo Steinke

It's important to add that we can – and we should – get and accept professional help. I know that many people want to or think that they have to remain ready to work and don't be "ill" or even "mentally ill". But that's like adding empty try / catch blocks everywhere in your code to hide errors instead of handling them.

Accepting professional help is a professional thing to do. Like buying a professional software license, hiring a software specialist or an electrician to do what they're best at and we aren't, doctors and psychologists offer professional services to help us to become and stay healthy so we can do and enjoy our work again.

taikedz profile image
Tai Kedzierski

Indeed, I never did address that point.

There are times when getting professional help is adequate, and I've been doing so over the years myself.

The established language in English at least has been to "get/seek help", and has now entrenched negative connotations, including systematic association with "expensive psychiatry," "something wrong with me" and "medication."

However, I am also seeing more advice to "look for support" through guidance and conversation, and open discussions with dedicated professionals. This shift in language and recommended target professionals.

Perhaps though, one might have trouble getting it - perhaps financial, or time availability etc .

But overall, yes, talking and counseling with a dedicated professional should always be something to consider freely 😊

And whilst waiting for that appointment, Gandalf is there for you. 🧙‍♂️

joesuarez242 profile image
JoeSuarez242 • Edited

We need more posts like this one. Your suggestions for actions to take when dealing with burnout are helpful and can be tailored to individual comfort levels. Talking to someone, taking time out for oneself, and engaging in activities without expectations are all valuable ways to cope with burnout.

Remember to be kind to yourself and allow yourself the space to recover without putting undue pressure on yourself to meet external expectations. Taking care of your mental health is crucial, and it's okay to prioritize self-care and self-compassion. If you find yourself struggling, don't hesitate to seek support from trusted friends, family, or mental health professionals.

It's important to remember that burnout and depression are not signs of weakness, but rather signals that you need to take care of yourself. Everyone deserves to prioritize their mental health and well-being. The specialists from might help to recognize the signs of burnout and taking proactive steps to address it, you can take positive steps towards recovery and better mental health.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Thanks for this

aboss123 profile image
Ashish Bailkeri

This is really good advice, and really applies to a lot of us out there. Thank you for this.