All Work And No Play Makes Steph A Dull Girl

We all know how bad burnout is, but that doesn’t make it any easier to avoid. I recently heard that it can take up to three years to recover from burnout which was both surprising and understandable all at once. I’ve faced burnout before, but not nearly as bad as I did in the fall of 2021 – and I still feel the effects of it, even as I’m writing this post.

Naturally, I’m a workaholic. (Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery, right?) And given that we live in times of economic uncertainty, I’ve always had the mentality of “it’s okay if I keep working 12+ hours a day because I need the money.” Sorry to spoil things, but this is not a good mindset to have. Unfortunately for me, it’s a hard habit to kick.

And then we throw a global pandemic into the mix. After losing my job and having to live off of CERB/CRB (and whatever other acronyms I was eligible for), I flung myself headfirst into all the work I could get. Freelance transcription is great as a way to supplement your income, and I had a lot of fun doing it, but it doesn’t always pay a whole lot. In order to earn the equivalent of minimum wage at a part-time job, I had to work a horrendous amount. And of course, because why make things easy for myself, I was trying to get into the world of self-publishing at the same time.

Cue the increased depression, anxiety, increased IBS issues, and add in some insomnia for good measure. I had constant chest pains, physically couldn’t make it through the day without a nap, and just generally felt like shit. I was well past my breaking point but couldn’t stop because, well, I like to be able to afford groceries.

When I was finally able to get a stable/reliable part-time job that came with a stable/reliable paycheque AND allowed me the freedom to keep writing and publishing, I put as much distance as possible between me and freelance transcription. As much as I enjoyed transcribing all sorts of interesting videos and audio files, I have not been able to bring myself to do it again. My brain refuses to let me dive back into that hole. It’s for the best.

For New Years, Mark made me promise to take two days off per week like a normal person, instead of the one/zero days off I was taking in the fall of 2021. And yes, I still feel guilty taking time off – like I said, it’s a hard habit to kick. I’ve compensated for this by striving for productive work days and for scattering my days off so that I’m not having two rest days back to back. So far, this schedule works for me.

In fact, it works so well that I actually have the mental and physical energy to write as much as I want to.

To anyone else who is close to burning out, or who has already passed the point of no return, let this be a cautionary tale. Don’t do what I did. Be better. And, most importantly, take care of yourself.

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