Merry Christmas! I pray that whatever holiday you celebrate is a time of rest and joy for you.
My apologies for the hiatus of writing—it’s been a rather wonky month. I graduated from college last week, and I’m afraid I’ve felt more than a little tired. I know it’s not just me—whether you just finished another semester of school or are chugging through another season filled with the daily grind, fatigue is a familiar feeling for all of us. And regardless of your occupation, this fatigue can easily lead to burnout.
For example, I love to write, but after majoring in it, the charm of writing has been lost in a swamp of essays and reports. However, not all of us have the luxury of a long break after a difficult season, so what do you do when you feel burned out and can’t take a long vacation? Here are some of the tips that I’ve been trying to implement in my life to recharge a bit:
Return to What You Love
Writing used to be a way for me to recharge, but since that’s been hard lately, I’ve reflected on other activities that used to recharge me. The one that always springs to mind is dance, and I have been blessed enough to find an affordable jazz dance class to go to for a few evenings in December and January. Your activity may not be dancing, but think of what you used to do in your free time, and try to find time to do that again.
Take Tiny Breaks
We can’t always run off to Florida to lie on the beach for a week, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take 20 minutes a day to curl up with a book. I just re-read Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) and started The Beautiful and Dammed (F. Scott Fitzgerald) a few days ago, and I can already tell I’m starting to feel perkier. Obviously though, not everyone reads for a break—for you, it may be coloring, taking a short walk, cooking something new, or calling up an old friend for a Skype date. Taking these breaks in small intervals can help rejuvenate you without falling behind on your work.
Note: Make sure these tiny breaks will actually recharge you. I don’t know about you, but checking Facebook may help me veg for a moment, but it’s not enough to renew my energy. Remember, if you’re trying to give your body energy, you fill it with healthy snacks, not junk food. The same rule goes for re-filling your mental tank.
Often we burnout when we forget why we loved in the first place. I recently skimmed through some of the stories I wrote in middle school, and even though all of them were beyond awful, the sheer number of stories reminded me how much I loved writing and how I used to look forward to doing it every day after school. Granted, I don’t write creatively for money, but the act of laying words on the page is the same, and it’s a love I want to cultivate again.
Ask for Help
When we’re beginning to burnout, our co-workers, friends, and family can often see it coming before we do. Are there signs they see that you don’t? Are there boundaries in your life you need to enforce? Ask your friends what they think you could improve in your life to keep you from burning out entirely, and ask them to keep you accountable.
Bonus: This past summer, I helped organize the Church Communicator Burnout page for Church Marketing Sucks, a nonprofit dedicated to both frustrating and encouraging church communicators. In that industry, many struggle with burning out, and while I’m not a church communicator and you may not be either, reading some of these articles both encouraged and gave me some helpful ideas.