This time on the podcast I’m delving a little deeper into the topic of burnout and sharing six suggestions to help you come back to work after burnout.
I’ve included a little context about burnout for the millennial generation (and why we’re so susceptible) and discuss ways we can set new boundaries and do the work we love in a more sustainable way.
Listen wherever you get your podcasts or here:
Links and further reading
- The real reasons millennials are so burned out.
- Get professional support.
- My Ko-Fi account
- Jo Hooper: Instagram, website.
This week I’m going to be talking a little bit more about burnout and specifically touching on what to do if you’re coming back to work after burnout – I’ll be covering how to put new boundaries into place and how you can do what you love in a sustainable way.
Hello everyone, how are you doing? I hope you all had a good couple of weeks. So this week we’re talking about burnout and as I said in the last episode I am totally self-diagnosing myself when I say I was burnt out before my break, but I honestly don’t know any other way to describe it. I was overwhelmed to the point of feeling frozen and rooted to the spot. I was exhausted, I had no motivation and all I felt towards Blue Jay of Happiness was apathy and indifference which is so unlike me.
And when I look back at how I was feeling, the term ‘burnout’ just fits the bill. So here we are. And I wanted to share some things that have helped me return to this work without it getting overwhelming again.
Before I get into that though I want to share something interesting I read lately about why millennials appear to be the ‘burnout’ generation. I read an interview with Anne Helen Petersen who’s written a book called ‘Can’t even: How millennials became the burnout generation’. And when asked why millennials are susceptible to burnout, she says:
“People have been burnt out for decades, maybe centuries, because it’s so related to capitalism. At the same time, the characteristics of burnout have really consolidated around the millennial generation in a way that they have not quite with previous generations, in part because of some of the economic shifts that have happened — taking away safety nets broadly, but then also adding in things like huge amounts of student debt that make it harder to negotiate everyday life — and also the rise of digital technologies.”
And I wanted to share that for context, it certainly rang true for me – the digital side of things particularly. It was that side that felt particularly draining for me which is why I ended up taking over a month off social media entirely. I’ll add the link to that interview to the show notes if you want to have a read through that.
And also, before we jump into things I also have to caveat that the thoughts I’m going to share today are all my personal view of things and of course, we are all different! What helped me may not help you. Some people need a lot more time to rest and recover, you may even need to reach out for professional support and again, I’ll put some links in the show notes if you’re in this position.
But if you are at a place where you feel ready to return to work but perhaps you’re worried about falling back into old habits, then keep listening because I have six tips that might help you.
So let’s start with tip number 1. Identify what it was that led to your burnout. And this isn’t always as easy as it sounds, often it’s a culmination of lots of little things that have built up over time. For me I think it was a combination of simply being exhausted by doing a side-hustle for so long, the pressure I’d put on myself to succeed and the fact that we’re going through a global pandemic. And I really encourage you not to underestimate external factors like this, they have a huge huge impact.
SO to help identify this, you might find it helpful to journal about what felt most difficult for you before burnout and what you’re most worried about when you return. Know your enemy as they say! For me it was about feeling tied into a content creating schedule that felt never-ending and didn’t feel joyful anymore because of the pressure I was putting myself under. Once you know what you’re dealing with you can start to think about approaching things differently.
OK, let’s move on to tip number 2. Which is: Take away any ‘shoulds’ from your to-do list. Being burnt out is exhausting. It takes a huge amount of rest and self-care to even feel like yourself again so you need to be gentle with yourself here and take it slow. Take off everything that isn’t a ‘must-do’ on your list and ask yourself is there anything you’re forcing yourself to do because you feel like you ‘should’? What would happen if you took this off your list? What would happen if you released some of the pressure you put yourself under? Explore this a little and see what you come up with.
My third tip is to: Put energy into what you truly enjoy. Now I know, this may be easier said than done depending on your circumstances, but if you have the opportunity to carve out more time for the things you enjoy, your burnt out mind will thank you for it. I realised during my break that I was missing creativity and freedom when creating content, so that’s what I’m leaning into now.
And in fact today I was planning to write a blog post, but I was contacted by a website called healing fairy tales who publish fairy tales about characters overcoming emotional trials and tribulations and they asked me if I’d like to contribute a story. I was just so excited about it I decided to shelve my blog writing plan today and start planning this story instead and honestly – I’ve just had so much fun doing it.
Tip number 4 is to Find a new work routine that feels manageable and sustainable. If you’re self-employed, this may be easier, but if you work for a company I would recommend working with your manager or HR department to find a way of doing your work in a manageable way. For me, in my case, this looked like massively reducing the amount of content I was creating and only tackling a couple of core tasks every Blue Jay Friday. So today for example, my tasks were to plan out my healing fairy tale story and record this. In the past there would have been a lot more on that list!
To make things sustainable you also have to think financially. This may mean tweaking your business model or raising your prices if you work for yourself. While I’m not thinking too much about the financial side of things right now because I’m lucky enough to have a day-job to support me, I have created a Ko-Fi account where people who enjoy my content can donate a few pounds to buy me a coffee.
This just feels like a nice way of earning a little money without having to put extra energy into selling something which is something I just don’t have in this post-burnout haze. I’ll pop a link to my account in the show notes so you can see what I’m talking about and of course if you want to support the podcast and buy me a coffee, that would be absolutely lovely too.
My fifth tip is to Create new boundaries and honour them. And this is important because if you’re coming back from burnout, chances are the boundaries you had in place previously haven’t worked quite well enough for you so you need to come up with new ones.
I mentioned only tackling a couple of tasks on Blue Jay Fridays now and this is a boundary I’ve set in stone. I’ve also decided to stop working evenings and be strict on weekends not being a place where Blue Jay work overspills. Setting boundaries around your time like this and honouring them is so so important after burnout.
If you want more advice on work boundaries, I’d highly recommend checking out the lovely Jo Hooper who is @madandsadclub on Instagram, she has a heap of helpful content on this topic and offers mentoring and courses to help you feel calmer and more in control at work. I’ll add her links in the show notes – definitely go and take a look.
And finally tip number 6. Is to Check in with yourself regularly. So burnout is a sneaky little thing, it comes out of nowhere – or at least it feels like it comes out of nowhere, hitting you like a truck, but in reality it’s probably been looming for a while. Checking in with how you’re feeling about work regularly will hopefully help you be more aware of those burnout feelings if they come back. Journaling, meditation, going for walks – all of this can help, just make time to ask yourself how you’re doing. And of course if you’re working with a manager, check in with them regularly and keep them updated with how you’re feeling.
So there we have it, 6 suggestions to help you come back and feel on top of things after burnout. I hope these tips were helpful, they’ve really supported me and, touch wood, I’m still feeling relaxed and happy with all things Blue Jay related.
That’s all I have for you this time, let me know if you have any other tips to share, you can find me over on Instagram @katbluejay and to access the full show notes to this episode with links and everything like that, head to bluejayofhappiness.com/podcast and you’ll find everything there. But I’ll catch up with you in the next episode and until then, take care.