Coping with Burnout

Alright my friends, let’s dive into a topic that is very close to my heart.

Burnout.

It comes in many different flavours, and honestly?

All of them suck.

Burnout can be caused by taking on too much work, poor time management, stress (in ANY area of your life), depression, executive dysfunction, no work/life balance (I do not care what anyone says, you need days off), pain, the list goes on and on and on.

The main type I experience is the burnout that comes with living with Chronic Pain (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS specifically).

I work too hard or for too long, and it tips me into a pain flare up. I end up with zero spoons and experiencing a painful burnout.

I’ve learnt to manage this by setting boundaries and actually paying attention to my body.

I don’t (can’t) work more than 4 hours a day consistently.

Every. Single. Goddamn time I have tried to increase this over the last 3 years since my car accident, I have ended up in a heap.

Or in hospital.

So! I cut my losses and limit my working hours to 4 hours, Monday to Friday.

I also make sure I work in the mornings.

My energy levels tend to drop considerably after 2pm, even on weekends.

So my sweet spot for work is around 8:30am-9:30am until 12:30pm-1:30pm.

Recently I’ve been starting even earlier because my sleep schedule has allowed for it. THAT has made me feel like a #RealAdult more than anything else tbh.

Of course, often people who have experienced burnout don’t list one cause. It’s usually a mix of the reasons I listed above.

So how do I cope with the constant threat of burnout due to Chronic Pain PLUS normal life stuff?

Well for starters, I try to be as organised as possible.

My boss Leonie and I use Asana, which is truly a godsend.

She’ll add tasks to my to-do list, I can track where I’m up to and everyone is happy because nothing gets forgotten!

In my non-work life, I actually prefer to handwrite my to-do lists! I use a bullet journal and this Daily To-Do List Planner.

The 2021 Goal Getter Daily To Do List by Leonie Dawson (my boss!)

I also use Google Calendar every single dang day.

I constantly say to literally everyone in my life:

Let me put that in my calendar; if it’s not in my calendar it doesn’t exist.

Zita, every time someone tries to organise something with her.

On an average weekday I have:

  • A repeating event that blocks out the hours of 9am-1pm for work
  • ALL my appointments scheduled in
  • Bills I have to pay
  • Details of all Zoom calls + meetings
  • Dates for dinners + lunches
  • Reminders (e.g. return Library book, check pot plants)

This practice keeps my ADHD riddle brain from EXPLODING with panic.

The other major thing I do is try to keep a healthy work/life balance.

I try to engage in non-work activities, and not work outside of my working hours unless absolutely necessary.

I keep my phone on do not disturb, turn off all work related Facebook group notifications and stay out of my work space (the office).

Engaging in non-work activities is made difficult by being in pain all the time, but far out do I try.

My current non-work activities include:

  • Making things out of resin
  • Reactivated by Library card
  • Cooking simple Mediterranean dishes when my CP allows it
  • Journalling
  • Writing poetry
  • Watching copious amounts of YouTube and Netflix

(As an aside… Did uhh, anyone else I know cry-watch the 12 hour livestream of Unus Annus deleting their channel?)

Shoutout to my friend Matt for grabbing this screenshot of the last second of the Unus Annus livestream.
I was too busy CRYING.

Anyway. Burnout.

My symptoms of burnout include a sudden, complete apathy towards anything I’m doing, increased pain (i.e. flare up), increased symptoms of stress, worse concentration and memory and an increased feeling of fatigue.

Funnily enough, those are all what I experience on a day-to-day level with CRPS but alas, we manage the cards we have been dealt as best we can.

Self-care, boundaries and balance are my three pillars of defence against burnout.

Knowing when to take a day off to recuperate, knowing when to say no, knowing when to ask for help.

I add more tools to my arsenal everyday, because for me the fight against burnout is a small, thin line that I could trip across at any moment.

Such fun.

How do you manage burnout? What’s the number one thing you’d recommend?

I’m always on the look out for more tips and tricks!

💜 Zita

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