It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the motivation or will to write. Between travel, work, and mid-terms I’ve been depleted of any energy that requires me to use my brain if I don’t have to. In fact, I can sum up how I’ve felt over these past few weeks in two words: used up.
Knowing I need to take care of myself, I’ve been doing various activities to battle the burnout. I’ve made time for friends, hosted potluck dinners, worked out, and cooked. While my mood improved, it seemed to always be temporary and fleeting. I was starting to feel helpless and wanting to avoid a downward spiral I began doing some research. I came across this article on battling burnout and found it particularly intriguing to my situation.
What I found interesting about the article is that it relates burnout to the social and personal aspects of your life rather than just focusing on work. It breaks burnout into three dimensions: exhaustion, depersonalization, and inefficacy. While I don’t really feel disconnected, exhaustion and feelings of inefficacy – or reduced personal accomplishment – are certainly present. My biggest complaint over the past couple of weeks is that my to-do list is constantly growing. It doesn’t matter how much energy I exert in mind or body, I still don’t seem to have made a dent in what needs to be done. As soon as one thing gets crossed off, two more things get added to it and so on. I find it discouraging and in the end, I am less likely to even want to tackle what’s on my plate. So what does that mean for me? Well, I’ve become kind of snarky – a negative Nancy or complaining Connie as my friend tells me. And that’s definitely not okay with me.
Considering my third class ended this past Saturday, my school load will be a bit lighter which will help immensely (note to self: NEVER, ever take three classes again). Not having a weekend in the last two months dominated by school work has meant I haven’t had a lot of me time. So I spent this past weekend catching up on sleep and doing absolutely nothing. And it didn’t really help to be honest. Until I found an interesting passage in the New York Times which made me rethink my action plan: “Don’t assume you need calming down when you really need some revving up.” While I’ve been exhausted, treating that exhaustion with sleep all weekend just contributed to my feelings of helplessness. And the more unproductive I felt, the more I got in an emotional ditch. So once again, it all seems to be a balancing act….