I know I’m not alone in this feeling of a fried and crispy brain trying to balance (or just follow through with the daily tasks of) life these days. You can read so many articles that talk about “COVID burnout” and “Quiet Quitting” every day.
This is not a new phenomena…all of us have felt some sort of situational fatigue and burnout even in the “glory days” before COVID. If you’ve ever felt so excited to be done with school for the summer or had an intense job, you can conjure up those memories pretty easily and understand what I’m saying.
What is significant about our experience with it now, is how it has affected people globally and our ability to communicate with each other about it more than in past generations.
It’s the weight of our own feelings and experiences plus the collective grief that is heavier for us than in pre-COVID times.
My experience has been a longer one, that started pre-COVID. I jumped out of the career track teaching, where I had colleagues and students I saw every day, into staying home with my daughter. My husband and I were able to make it work financially.
(I am completely aware that this is a privilege that many can’t experience, and I am very grateful for it.)
I have to be honest…as much as it felt luxurious and an amazing opportunity, it was pretty isolating. For ten years of my life, my day was way more fast-paced teaching middle school kids.
I went from being on a “treadmill” every day, racing from one class of 25+ to the next for seven hours a day to the sleep-deprived fog of baby rhythms and being the only adult around during the day. This was one of the reasons I started creating art and jewelry…to reclaim a piece of myself and focus on what this new ME was going to become.
Fast-forward time to 2022 and I’m on this six year adventure of creating art, developing my jewelry business, and being the primary caretaker for my daughter out of communal spaces. I’m spent and ready to feel some progress taking hold in my professional life.
So, these are the five actions I’m using to recover from my burnout:
- I took off time from my biggest stressor: my business, for a couple of months. I had to heal my wrist from minor carpal tunnel symptoms and take a break from feeling like I was always behind in my marketing (posting, gaining new followers, etc.).
- Reconnected with my family: We just played, went for walks, meet up with friends, and hung out around the house. Sometimes my husband’s job is pretty intense, so my daughter and I would plan our day around going to the library, finding frogs in the rivers, listening to audiobooks, making and baking, and all sorts of fun stuff! It’s neat to see how she is changing and developing in her thoughts and skills!
- Getting more exercise: Although we get outside every day, I wouldn’t define the wandering we do as “exercise”...I definitely don’t get my heart pumping. Being an athlete growing up, I NEED to move and find ways to “suck wind”. Getting out by myself is the only way to do it. Hiking, paddling, biking are my main ways to getting out of my headspace and reconnected with my body.
- Alone time to write or meditate: With the summer sun coming up so early, it was easier to wake up about 6am, when everybody else was in bed. I’d grab my coffee and go into my studio to write or start off the day with my meditate app (I’m still a beginner, so it’s helpful to have someone else’s voice guide me through a session). I’m such a visual learner, but find that writing, by hand or on computer, is the best way to process and sythesize my feelings. Who knew that journaling could be so fulfilling (Ha! Only the millions of therapists, counselors, and artists who do it regularly)?!
- Learn + Create: I can’t help it…I am a learning junkie. I buy classes on all sorts of stuff every year: business, mixed media art, painting, history, cooking, etc. I am also a creating junkie. Don’t look in my studio closet because you never know what might fall on you! Quilting, knitting, mixed media painting, wax casting, metalsmithing, leather working, you name it…I probably have the materials in my studio! While the world was sorting through their closets Marie Kondo-style during COVID shutdown (they must not have had little kids), I was quietly adding to mine. My therapy: learn, create, make mistakes, laugh, have a little dance party, learn, create, repeat the cycle.
I know I am not the only one going through burnout and trying to recover from it. However you find yourself unable to move forward, allow yourself to pull back and heal. It'll be one of the most important things you ever do in life.
“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit” -Banksy
Connect with me on FB @windandthewanderershop or IG @windandthewandererart to let me know if you've had a similar experience...and what you did!