Burnout (Not The Game)

For context, I’m currently in graduate school studying graphic design. Been doing it online and from a different time zone, with most classes running till 1AM on weekdays.

The school had a 3 week break between semesters, which I mostly spent applying for internships. With not much time to recover during the break, I started my current semester feeling like I’m running on fumes. Everything seems like a slog; not just work but even leisure. For instance, the idea of turning on a console and playing games feels like a chore.

Have you guys experienced or are currently experiencing burnout in your respective field and/or occupation? What’s helped or is helping you get through it?

@hammy#32687 Yep, up until the end of April I‘d spent the last year living in my sister’s spare room as I had to move out of my own place due to prelockdown renovations - I didn‘t have much in the way of personal possessions either but took my 3DS and Switch. I work in PR in the public sector and primarily do a lot of face-to-face work with the third/voluntary sector but all of that moved online, making it a lot harder to do my job. I found it incredibly tough as I’m also clinically vulnerable.

I started to feel burnout around September time, and whilst it's not as bad now there have been some real troughs. What got me through it though was making sure to allocate time to relax and to try something *different*, or attempt to add variety to my work / activity / day. Including dipping into games. On the other hand I found it good to invest my time in something or to have something that felt like a constant that I could engage in in short bursts; for me that was Slay the Spire on the Switch, for a colleague it was making tiny models of people out of household objects. Speak to one of your peers because they might be in the same position too.

Make sure that you sleep plenty too. Really.

Hope you begin to get out of your rut soon. Getting over burnout takes a long time but you'll do it.

I'm definetly experiencing burnout in my field of being an unemployed college drop-out while gender-transitioning during a pandemic,

I've had pandemic Jet Lag for about 90% of the last year, and by that I mean that because I don't go out, my sleeping hours shift and vary wildly and it's extremely hard for me to get back into a regular sleeping cycle, right now I kind of go to sleep at like 4 am and wake up at around 12 pm-ish, and in my worst weeks I go to sleep at 8 or 9 am and wake up at 5 pm, and that's horrible for my mental health, and when I have been able to fix my sleeping cycle it gets messed up again in like a week.
I know that i'm quite privileged because I live in a middle class household with parents that maintain me and support me even when I'm not studying nor working, but this past year has been wildly rough.

Right know I'm trying to teach myself japanese, programming, 3d modeling in blender, violin and trombone so its not like I get bored without school or work, heck if anything I feel like I dont have enough time in a day for all that I want to do and learn, but lately I feel like I don't have the energy to do anything and feel extremely tired all day (that I think, is mainly the HRT)

I live in Tijuana, mx wich is an unsafe (especialy for a trans person) city with barely any green areas, parks or public spaces and that's the main cause of me not going out anywhere.

Lately what has been keeping me sane is cooking! I recently discovered an asian market, and I've been trying out different recipes and it makes me feel good to cook extremely good dishes, some of my recent cooking highlights have been : mapo tofu, biryani, kkanpong tofu, spanakopita and miso ramen. (all vegan!)

Tomorrow I'm going to the beach with my friends which seems like a nice and fresh change of pace!

Vaccine rollout over here has been quite slow compared to the U.S, but yestarday there was news that the U.S was going to sell 1 million vaccines to Mexico, and that the Mexican government is going to use those vaccines to fully vaccinated the border region earlier than the rest of the country in order to reactivate the border economy or some crap like that. and that's supposidley happening this month, so I'm quite looking forward to that!

I just want to be able to hangout in my friends houses

@LeFish#32701 yeah I agree shaking up the routine can be helpful. My mind wants to wake me up at 7am everyday, so yeah I should work something out to catch enough sleep.

Your point about investing time in something reminded me of how I was playing jrpg’s like Yakuza and Lost Odyssey during my previous semesters. I’d dedicate an hour or so of my day away from studying to play something beefy.

@ana-yipyip#32708 Sorry to hear about your irregular sleep schedule and quarantine struggles. Hopefully you’ll get those early shots and be able to hangout with others soon.

It’s great you’ve found joy in cooking. Speaking of biryani, do check the Asian market if they have Shan biryani masala (or any other Shan brand masalas). Can’t go wrong with those for making Pakistani/Indian food.

@hammy#32725 the Asian market doesn‘t carry a lot of indian or Pakistani stuff so I doubt they will have it, but I do have and use all of the spices involved in masala when making biryani, I just haven’t thought of mixing them before, I will try making some masala before the next time I cook biryani.

Just yesterday I made biryani and mint chutney, and I tried making some naan bread to serve with the biryani for the first time and it was hecking delicious.

Feeling some serious burnout myself, you‘re not alone. Time feels like it’s going too slowly and too quickly at the same time. If you‘d asked me how much time it’s been since people were posting in the Theme Sale thread I wouldn't have guessed seven months…

i know this is a serious thread but you lot above ain' half making me hungry.

It comes in waves for me. Since I started working from home I don't switch off and that has the obvious knock on effects. I say I'm done for the day but I just roll to the room with the other computer and open slack habitually. I can't start anything, I can't finish anything. This last year has been a loop.

Today was one of the more positive days - I'm back on top of my work and I've found a new book that interests me. Just I know that I'm just going back to work in the room across the hall tomorrow.

I need to get an exercise routine started again, I've put on 5kg since the start of the pandemic.

@ana-yipyip#32739 Damn that sounds (and is) delicious. Mint Chutney with plain naan makes for a great appetiser.

@Auberji#32855

@Auberji#32855 can relate to the inability to “switch off” at day’s end. I’ve found stepping away from anything work related - a laptop, notebooks, etc - for a period of time helps to an extent, after which I can come back to the space and focus on non-work things.

For the other computer you use, maybe consider blocking slack and email pages on your browser? Making it inconvenient to access those sites may help make doing so less automatic in your free time.

@hammy#33015 Well luckily Slack is no longer supported on Firefox it seems, and I removed it from my phone (my biggest sin!) but I think it's the fact that this presence is in my house, this little area I work at.

I 100% need to block outlook though.

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@hammy#33015 I’ve found stepping away from anything work related - a laptop, notebooks, etc - for a period of time helps to an extent, after which I can come back to the space and focus on non-work things.

I was going to write a big long thing, but realizing that would be hypocritical and probably on some level counterproductive, what I will say is having dealt with both small and huge scale burnout in the past, rest and detachment is a critically underrated component to both preventing and recovering from burnout.

I think a lot of people are on some deep level afraid that burnout is the sign that they're going to wake up one day and find that whatever they're doing is no longer making them happy at all, and it never will again, when, I dunno, I think in most cases it's just the mark of working too damn hard for too damn long. Part of that is that I also think fulltime work and school just from a raw time-spent perspective is outside of the capabilities of most people to be happy, productive, fulfilled, and to be able to maintain all of that sustainably (never mind factoring in disability and such).

Again having dealt with many different kinds of burnout including literal career ending burnout, I became much, much better at managing it once I figured out how to convince myself to rest effectively. And not just like, sleep, or momentary lapses, but meaningful disconnection to go indulge myself or take care of myself or purposefully not give a fuck or just have fun. Currently I am pushing my employer to let me compress my work week into 4 days instead of 5 because 4 days on 3 days off seem to really work out for me like 5-2 doesn't. But also nothing beats just taking 2-3 weeks to dick around too. It's a real shame that so little of the world thinks this is viable or even worth making available on a regular basis. I'm sure it would seem completely obvious to anyone who is allowed to do it.

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meaningful disconnection to go indulge myself or take care of myself or purposefully not give a fuck or just have fun

Something I've had to/still have to remind myself of is that this kind of meaningful disconnection has been especially difficult to realize during the past year and a half, when it's been impossible for a lot of people to do anything even outside of their houses. Regardless of whether you've been employed or not during this time, you're still spending a whole lot of time in the same series of rooms or engaging in the same repetitive series of distractions every day. (Maybe this is saying something different, but) For the luckiest of people this set of living conditions has been imposed on them by COVID, but those with depressive illness or who are struggling to survive because of homelessness/poverty etc know what this feels like, this wondering whether the things which used to make you happy have lost their luster. It's a certain kind of daily predictability which at least makes me personally feel existentially fatigued ("existential dread" seems like an overused term these days but I guess there's a reason for it).

Also feeling a more literal kind of burnout at the moment: where I am it's 90 degrees and humid and the A/C at work is inadequate and at my house it's broken. Head feels like a warm and slow-moving balloon (may be affecting coherence of posts, sorry).

Wooo do I ever have it. I‘m in a stable space so I’m not trying to say I‘ve got it bad, but mentally I’m stretched very thin. I‘m just doing so many things and have to very quickly make decisions that impact creative projects long term (booking insert credit guests, game design decisions across 2-3 games at once, funding applications, mentorship advice, game evaluations for competitions, etc). There’s a lot of task switching for me which is a huge source of mental drain, and on top of that I'm meant to be contributing writing and other creative stuff and also managing a team of people who are also burned out.

We obviously talk a lot about not liking crunch in the game industry, and I try to make sure that nobody on my team does it, but we have a fully virtual team, and I can't monitor that too well. And one of our team members just works all the time, it's kind of his thing, and I also find myself doing that, while trying to tell everyone else not to.

I've definitely had to remind folks on my team to take breaks, take some days off, etc, but I just can't envision when to do that myself. I feel guilty taking a full weekend not thinking about work sometimes, which is not good! Ultimately we just don't have enough money for me to split out the jobs I do among other people. It would be great for someone to handle business and management stuff while I handle creative direction but there's no money for that. It'd be great to get a producer instead of splitting duties between two of us, but there's no money for that!

Anyway I have found that at a certain point my body just gives up and is like "we're resting now, deal with it" and that kind of helps. But I'm so wound up that when I took a week off in the last year at some point I spent most of the time just stressing about trying to have a relaxing time and didn't relax at all until the actual weekend after my week off.

I know people make fun memes about how much pressure everyone puts on the "quick walk outside" to calm oneself down, but that's really been the only thing that's kind of worked for me without taking multiple days off in a row. Also uhhh a dog is simultaneously stressful and a stress reliever!? that's something.

I dunno, I'm working on it but let me tell ya - I have not figured this out and I don't think I'll be figuring it out real soon. For me traveling to trade shows was a lot of that relaxation I think, because I was working, technically, but not having to exercise my brain that much. Once that starts up again maybe I'll be in better shape.

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@captain#33073 those with depressive illness or who are struggling to survive because of homelessness/poverty etc know what this feels like, this wondering whether the things which used to make you happy have lost their luster.

Excellent points all round. I hope I didn't come off as naive, thinking it meant much to say "just hang out, duh." One's capacity to feel good just vibing depends pretty heavily on the weight of the economic boot smashing on their face, that's for sure.

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@Gaagaagiins#33130 come off as naive

God no, not at all! I only meant to say, if stepping back from whatever one is doing in order to regain one's bearings isn't working, that's OK too and not unusual (telling myself this more than anybody).

I have been feeling this, especially this previous semester as a grad student. I got COVID the first week of the semester. It was a mild case fortunately, but it stressed me out a ton. Before that I was already nervous from hearing about it all year and all of the weird long term symptoms people were getting. Catching it myself made me extremely anxious about my physical and mental state all the time, which of course worsened my physical and mental state. The isolation didn’t help and I’ve just been stuck in my head with not much to do but stress about my research or stress about not doing my research. Added to that the typical insecurities of grad students, and it’s been a bad time.

However, I think things are looking up as everything reopens. I got vaccinated and I’m working at my office again, which I think helps create that work/life balance that I found hard to manage when my whole life was in my bedroom. I met my advisor in person last week, and started feeling better about my research, just talking with him about it over a whiteboard instead of over zoom. Currently, I’m visiting family back home for the first time since before the pandemic. I’m fortunate to have a loving family, and I’m very sentimental about my family and where I grew up. Visiting home has re-centered me greatly; I’ve realized how homesick I was.

Usually what I do to avoid burnout is go on ‘adventures’ on the weekends a few times a month. I’ll go to a museum, eat at a new restaurant, go for a hike, or just try something new. Like others have said, detaching completely is important, and I think finding something to stimulate my brain in new ways helps me do that. Of course, it’s hard to do this during a pandemic, and ‘adventures’ often cost money.

@Auberji#33037

I second that blocking idea. Unsubscribing to slack‘s email notifications also helps keep the flood of work from spilling over to one’s downtime.

Disconnecting from work through physical spaces - imposed or otherwise, as @captain#33073 brought up - can be tough depending on said spaces. I work from my bedroom, though I have the option to go to another rooms when I need to distance myself from work. For someone in a small studio apartment in an area that isn't conducive to pedestrians or outdoor activity, I can see it being an issue. Does one divide such limited space even further to create that separation, a kind of physical / mental cubicle?

Reminds me of the short story "Billennium" by J.G Ballard that deals with over-crowding and the scarcity of living spaces, though I'm not sure how relevant that may be to all this

@hammy#33149 I‘m a privileged little shit with a house so I don’t really get to complain about living space size. I think all it does to me is make me fear the room that occupies my work station haha.

"That room at the top of the stairs? We don't go in there no more"

I manage a couple different teams and try to do mentoring and support where I can and work is basically all I like doing. This isn‘t healthy but I like and usually it doesn’t cause problems. Games are the easy go to for my hands to do something and my brain to just process stuff, but I've definitely run into those times where even the idea of playing a game felt like a chore and more work on top of everything.

Those are the times that I'd wind up just doing things that remove me from the space I'm in the most often, mentally and physically preferably. Go for a drive, wander around the city I live in (when I lived in a walkable one), or go work out. Several of these are REAL rough during a global pandemic and I got hobbled by that late last summer. I wound up drastically changing my schedule and going to sleep by 11pm and getting up at 6am and doing an hour and a half of ring fit or this stationary bike and it helped a LOT.

The other thing is just, putting a song on loop or podcast and doing a bunch of cleaning/organizing in one small area of my apartment. Like organizing the pantry level of specifically small. Just getting a little bit of order to get the serotonin drip going.

Ultimately doing something that's your and can be consistent is the biggest thing to relieving the stress and malaise. It won't cure it, but it'll help.