Quarantine Burnout: Are You Feeling It?
I’ve been thinking a little about the burnout even in this ridiculous coronavirus era where there actually seems to be quite a lot of time. Have you seen that meme about for some people it’s a sprinkle, some it’s a storm, and some are drowning?
I am firmly on the sprinkle bus. I have a contract through the end of June and an apartment lease that is up in July, so my worst case scenario is that I move back in with my dad for a few months until this blows over and my best case scenario is that my mortgage request still gets approved and I spend a few months living off savings and fixing up the house I want to buy.
This is an inconvenient time for me so far, not a hard time.
I know there are piles of privilege behind saying that (and, to be fair, also a good bit of sacrificing things I wanted to do to get my finances so in order over the last few years that I’m in a strong place to weather this) but it is also just the reality of where I am.
It’s why I’ve been focusing on productivity and trying to use the time well.
Which has, strangely enough, resulted in a full burnout last week. It caught me entirely by surprise.
I think my stage manager survival instincts kicked in when everything started to get weird and I thought, “you just need a plan, just make a plan.”
So I made uber-plan that optimized every moment of the day, maximized time catching up with friends, took advantage of all the free courses, and still included working full time from home in my job where the workload tripled overnight.
And as the weeks actually sort of did fly by in this super busy mode, there was finally a week full of so many commitments, that culminated in 9 hours of Zoom calls “socializing” with friends, that left me laying on the couch the next day, a shell of a human. Wondering why I couldn’t focus on anything or seem to do anything that day.
Did this happen to everyone? Did everyone have a crash?
My crash turned into a three day weekend crash of barely getting off the couch, followed by a week of talking to no one other than the Zooms I was required to do for work.
This was perhaps too far in the other direction because the total solitude was a bit too much.
Fortunately, I had some data I could refer to, to check out what exactly was too much and what was too little – I had been making daily to do lists and the hoarder in me, for some reason, was keeping them all.
Sort of my own little quarantine diary.
I found that the days that had broken me had a lot listed, in great detail.
The days that left me useless on the couch, only had like one or two things that absolutely had to be done listed.
The days where I seem to function OK have the things that absolutely have to be done, a few simple wins that I’d been doing most days anyway without writing down (yes, sometimes it includes shower, eat lunch), and two or three goal projects.
I also need to not speak to people every day.
Normal me knows this. I am pretty introverted.
But, that said, I do need to speak to people every couple of days. I have one standing date with a group of friends on Thursday that I prioritize making. Other than that, I try to catch up with two or three other people all week.
As far as maintaining a functioning mindset, there are three things I’ve really had drilled home from The Science of Well-Being course I’ve been taking, that I try to do every day.
Savor something. Just fully appreciate an experience. And seriously, our worlds are kind of tiny right now.
I have fully savored a brownie more than once in the last seven weeks and let me tell you, they were extra glorious for it.
I have gotten better at savoring it by practicing it too. Sometimes I get to the end of the day to write down these moments and think, oh, I actually like savored a few things today, I was just so in the moment at the time, I didn’t think about it like that.
There have also been a few days when I get to the end of the day and I’ve savored nothing. And so I have developed two tricks. There are two things I can stop and savor pretty easily – music and poetry. So I clear 5-10 minutes and do it, if I’ve savored nothing else that day.
The other things I focus on are five things I’m grateful for each night. I initially thought several were cop-out answers: my health, my friends, my family. But they’re not cop-outs, they are actually the things I’m most grateful for and I often neglect really thinking about it.
Again, because the world has gotten so tiny, I’m sometimes surprised where I can find things to be grateful for – like the perfect brownie or even just some sunshine and nice weather.
I think I may be making some progress on rewiring my brain.
The final thing I’m still struggling with, but the days where I achieve it always feel like a good day at the end – and it’s kindness. It feels so hard to do acts of kindness right now. Also, as a naturally helpful person, I have a lot of trouble recognizing an act of kindness from something I just feel like I should be doing. Beginning to recognize a lot of those actions as kindness though, has been incredibly helpful, and searching out acts of kindness is also satisfying.
So I guess the point of this ramble was just another coronavirus check in. How are you all doing? What are you doing to cope? Are you feeling the burnout sometimes too?
Published in Collaboration with brokeGIRLrich