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  • Writer's pictureAngela Stratman

Handling Burnout and Staying Motivated

You wake up in the morning, and the first thought that crosses your mind is the work you need to get done, the paper you need to write, or the project you have been avoiding. You’re tired and don’t care anymore, but you push through, telling yourself that it’s just another day. But is it really? Or are you on the verge of burnout?

 

Recognizing Burnout

Burnout isn’t just about being tired. It’s a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion. It can also involve a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. Do you feel cynical or detached from your job, your schoolwork, or your life in general? Do you find it hard to concentrate? Have you stopped caring about achieving your goals? These could be signs that you’re experiencing burnout.

 

Another feeling similar to burnout is boredom. Your work doesn’t excite you, you don’t find satisfaction in it, and you are just going through the motions. I have worked plenty of jobs where I hit this point of boredom. I wasn’t burned out; I could still concentrate, but I just had apathy toward my position. Even in college, by week 11 or 12 of a 15-week semester, I would get bored with the topics. Many of the actions to combat burnout can also be applied to boredom.



The Importance of Self-Care

Remember, it’s okay to take a break. You’re not a machine, and it’s essential to prioritize self-care. This could mean taking a day off, spending time with loved ones, or indulging in a hobby. Listen to your body and give it the rest it needs. How often do you take a day off only to have a list of chores that need to be done or appointments that you had to make? That doesn’t give you a chance to recharge. Some days, you need to do nothing, go nowhere, and have some fun. I keep a list of 20 things I like to do to recharge; some cost nothing, and others cost some money.

 

Here are 5 of my most frequent Self-Care recharge items:

  • Getting a manicure or pedicure (or both!)

  • Going to the library and finding a short book or magazine and a comfy chair and just reading for a while

  • Finding a new park and going for a walk/hike

  • Binge watch an entire season of a TV/Streaming show.

  • Writing a letter to a friend, to myself, or sketching/something artsy

 

I encourage you to make a similar list of things you enjoy so you don’t spend more energy trying to figure out what to do when you need a break.

 

Staying Motivated

Staying motivated in the face of burnout can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Start by setting realistic goals. It’s okay if you can’t do everything at once. Break down your tasks into manageable chunks and celebrate small victories. Something must be said for crossing an item off a to-do list. I once had a paper on a topic I hated, so I set mini goals of finishing one paragraph in an hour, and once I started writing, I was able to draft the whole paper in that hour.

 

When you are bored, motivation is even more challenging. You tend not to care or see the importance of the tasks at hand. Sometimes, I would tell myself that I just had to finish this report or that project today, and I could spend the rest of the day job searching; yeah, I was that bored! I would only let myself look at jobs once I finished the tasks I needed to get done. The next area of seeking support is much more helpful when addressing boredom.

 



Seeking Support

Don’t hesitate to seek support. Talk to your friends, family, or a mental health professional. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. You’re not alone in this journey, even though you may feel you are. This one is hard because, for many people when they are burned out, is it just them, and will people judge them, especially managers and professors? By seeking support, you have advised them that you need help or an accommodation. It becomes harder to penalize someone when they need and ask for help. Storytime!

 

Not that long ago, I was working in a role, and when I started, we had a team of around 14 people, plus our manager. Within four years, we were a team of 3 and our manager. I was doing the work of 4-6 people, and while I wasn’t missing deadlines, my work product was basic. I stopped caring about the work I was doing because it felt like others stopped caring about it. I wasn’t getting feedback, so I thought I was good. Then, suddenly, my manager placed me on a performance improvement plan (PIP). To say I was shocked is an understatement; I got to my car and was in tears. I couldn’t understand how they couldn’t see all the work I was doing and that I was drowning. But guess what? That wasn’t their sole responsibility; I didn’t say I needed help or that I knew my work was basic (even though I knew it was). I didn’t ask for feedback; I just stopped caring, and it showed. At my next job, I never forgot that feeling and that revelation. I made an effort to ask for feedback, let my manager know when I was getting bored, asked for better projects, or even said, “Hey, I’m burning out; I need a couple of weeks of just getting the work done, and I’ll improve upon it later.”

 

This is your life; be proactive and ask for support, and if they don’t get it, let them know why you are asking and keep pushing for feedback or suggestions.

 

Conclusion

 

Burnout and boredom can make you feel stuck in a rut, but remember, it’s not a permanent state. You can overcome and regain your motivation with the right strategies and support. So, take a deep breath, prioritize your well-being, and take one step at a time. You’ve got this!

 

I hope you find this helpful! Remember, taking a step back and taking care of yourself is okay. You’re doing great, and you’re capable of overcoming any challenges that come your way. Stay strong!



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