Recovery from burnout

By Gavin Davies on 13 October 2012

Burnout is SRS BIZNIZ in software…

Burnout is SRS BIZNIZ in software. It’s a mentally demanding discipline and seems to get more stressful by the day as the number of things I need to know spirals into the huge digits. For the umpteemth time, I got burned out. This time it was really bad. I saw it coming – you can’t be in front of a computer for up to 14 hours a day without consequences. Plus I’ve had a really stressful time in lots of other respects – particularly financially. Thankfully, my lady and I had booked in a few days away.

I arrived on holiday in tatters: sick, tired, and anxious. Three days later of gently wandering the Cotswalds and slow cooking meals, I could face the world again.

Sometimes the right way is through, sometimes it is to first go back a little.

This is the first time I’ve used a computer (other than my tablet) in 11 days and it feels at once natural and entirely alien.

Burnout is terrible. It makes you exhausted, disinterested, and increasing the effort you put in actually makes it WORSE. Burnout robs all the joy from any job. People will queue up to tell you you’re working too hard and taking on too much, but the numbers can be thin on the ground when it comes to actually lending a hand*. That’s why time off is so vital – time to get focus, perspective and your right mind.

* in all fairness, without the support of my family, friends and Church family, it would have been a whole lot worse… This time around, there were people who did provide practical help and sound advice. It shouldn’t surprise me when people genuinely care and help, but for some reason sometimes it still takes me back how kind people can be!

We’ve all got a lot to do. Sometimes, we HAVE to take a lot on, because mortgages don’t pay themselves. It’s tough, especially if you live alone. This is why, to survive burnout, I recommend:

  • Keep trustworthy people close. Don’t alienate people when you’re busy. Don’t treat people as things.
  • Eat as well as you can. It’s so hard when you’re exhausted and you come home and would rather cry than cook for yourself, but just don’t sit down until you have something ready.
  • Take time out for yourself, to pray, meditate, read – whatever it is you do to get your mind right.
  • Don’t be too proud to ask for help.
  • Get away from it all if you can. Get some perspective. It’s often surprising how much the world DOESN’T fall apart without me – I’m certainly not indispensible!

This may or may not help, but if you’re suffering burnout, know that if you can get some space, it will pass.

Sometimes the right way is through, sometimes it is to first go back a little.