What is burnout? How to recover from it and prevent it.
When the lines between home and workplace blurred, things went south. Now, work is constantly on your mind and also with you, so you have the option to work continuously without stopping. There were proponents of this type of work, and now they are louder than ever. Welcome to the Hustle Game, where the odds are seldom in your favour. Hustle culture may let you believe that working yourself to the bone without much sleep is the answer, but it is not. Several studies have shown that hustle culture is killing us (case in point: this article). Hustle culture is also causing a rise in burnout. But:
- What is burnout?
- And what is writer’s burnout, and how is it different from writer’s block?
- What are the symptoms of burnout?
- What are the causes of burnout?
- How to recover from burnout?
- And how to prevent it?
We have answered all these questions in this blog. Feel free to skip some parts and read other part of the blog. The table of contents is here to let you navigate the blog easily! Let’s jump right in.
Burnout means exhaustion both physically and mentally due to constant levels of high stress and anxiety. If lately, you have high demands on tight deadlines, you are more likely to have burnout. A writer’s burnout is explicitly the unwillingness to write despite having the skills to write and ideas. Unlike writing before, you now face no joy or happiness from writing and instead feel constant dread when you sit down to write.
There is a burnout myth that the severity of burnout depends on the time you have been under pressure. People assume that working continuously for a long time, like three years, can lead to burnout; if someone has only worked for three months or so and claims to be burned out, they are simply lying and making excuses. However, that is false because your burnout is directly proportional to the intensity of constant stress.
You can experience burnout even after ten days of high-intensity stress and deadlines. If you have been working for ten days without any breaks with intense pressure on you, it may lead to burnout. Keep reading to find how you can manage your workload without getting stressed in the recovery section of this blog.
Difference Between Writer’s Block And Writer’s Burnout
The two may sound similar, but there is a vast difference between the two. Writer’s block refers to the inability to think about what to write and, as a result, not writing. Writer’s block, in its own right, is not the best place for a content writer, especially one who is a full-time writer, since the means of your income depends on your ability to write. However, there are ways to get over writer’s block.
Writer’s burnout, on the other hand, is knowing what to write but hating everything you write and doubting your skills and identity. It makes you question and judge yourself with the urge to quit writing and go to a Buddhist temple for exile. Yes, it is anything but a hoot to have. However, it doesn’t mean that you cannot fight and overcome. There are some easy and simple ways of overcoming writer’s burnout that doesn’t require a buttload of money. But before we move to how you can overcome it, let’s discuss the symptoms of burnout.
Symptoms of burnout
Hating the act of writing: Writers choose writing because it gives them happiness and they enjoy writing, but with writer’s burnout, they hate the act of writing and everything associated with that. They are exhausted and don’t want to write at all. If you have tons of deadlines, even the deadlines do not work their magic and give you a stroke of genius at the end moment. Instead, they make you throw your laptop out a window because it feels impossible to write due to constant exhaustion.
No motivation: But we all feel exhausted from time to time; how is writer’s burnout different from usual exhaustion? The difference is the lack of motivation. When you have no motivation to work, too, it means that you are experiencing writer’s burnout. The lack of motivation can last for weeks or months and makes you resent the job you once enjoyed. Your productivity drops, and even when you write something, it won’t be up to your standards, making this a never-ending cycle of writing, deleting and feeling less competent.
Bye Optimism, hello cynicism: Your cynicism is through the roof, irrespective of your cynicism or optimism before the burnout. It doesn’t matter if you are a realist, optimist, or pessimist; either way, burnout makes you more cynical and pessimistic than usual.
You may even start questioning your skills and the impact of your work. Everything seems pointless, and before you know it, you are experiencing an existential crisis that makes you want to eat your feelings away (get away from your fridge). It makes you want to stop writing and find some other meaningful job. Spoiler alerts: it is not you or writing; it is your burnout screaming in your head. Content writing is an important job too, and with the right help, you can overcome this cynicism regarding your work and self-worth. Just trust that this too shall pass.
Your physical wellbeing is suffering: You face physical problems such as gut problems or frequent viral fevers. It’s a common myth that mental health problems are all in your head. Many people experience both physical and mental symptoms when they are suffering from a mental health issue.
Because mental health affects your gut and immune system the most, you will experience gut problems such as vomiting or diarrhoea. Reduced immunity may cause frequent fever and further lower your productivity. Thus, if you are falling ill often, along with the above symptoms, you may be experiencing burnout.
Sounds similar? Sorry to inform you, but you might be experiencing writer’s burnout. But what causes burnout? Keep reading to find out.
What causes burnout?
But what is the cause of writer’s burnout in the first place? It will help you sort out why you are experiencing burnout and arrange your life accordingly.
Your bosses or clients do not appreciate your work: Appreciation for your work is a factor that has a massive effect on your job satisfaction. But despite working hard, not getting any appreciation for your work can break anyone’s heart (it definitely breaks mine). Thus, it is no surprise that getting no appreciation for your work despite putting in extra hours leads to writer’s burnout since you doubt your skills and work.
Lack of community: If you are a freelance content writer, it can be isolating to work since you don’t have a community to help you with your million questions. Moreover, not venting your frustrations with someone else can also make you feel isolated and build up your emotions. You’re human and thus need a healthy outlet from time to time. Not having a community of freelance writers can lead to burnout too. So, try to network online and find a community of freelancers to talk about your feelings and avoid feeling alone.
Heavy workload: All of us face a heavy workload and often put in extra hours to finish work; however, when you are constantly working more than your capacity for weeks, it can cause burnout. Ask yourself if you have been burning the midnight oil far too often, and if the answer is yes, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities and set things straight. Heavy expectations can also sometimes mean an increase in workload, which can also lead to burnout.
Procrastination: Do you procrastinate all your work till the end moment and complete the job in an impossible time frame? Procrastinating a few times is fine, but relying on this method can lead to burnout too. The stress and anxiety you feel while procrastinating, in addition to the strain while you are working and trying to meet the deadline, can cause manifolds of stress and lead to burnout.
Working on the go: As a freelancer and remote writer, you now have the option to take your laptop everywhere you go and work. However, ignoring essential rest during weekends and vacations will lead to eventual burnout. Unlike machines that can run with little rest, humans need rest to rejuvenate their creativity and energy and thus, carrying your work everywhere with you is an excellent strategy to burnout. So if you want to feel like absolute trash, continue working and hustling!
How to recover from burnout?
Did reading the above sections make you feel like someone wrote what is happening to you? If yes, you don’t need to worry because we have ways to recover from burnout. Let’s discuss how you can overcome burnout.
Seek therapy: Yes, therapy is taboo in India and expensive as well. However, with platforms like Therapize and online counselling, you can access treatment too at affordable rates. Plus, if you are earning, it is worth spending money on your mental health in the long term. Moreover, a therapist will help you give personalized advice and keep track of your progress. Therapists are trained to deal with mental health; thus, relying on them to help you is an intelligent decision. Your friend or that YouTube video is not the most reliable source of information for mental health seek therapy, please.
Examine your workload: Do you feel overwhelmed just thinking about everything that you need to do? Sometimes, writing down your responsibilities on paper can help you get over the initial overwhelming feeling when you think about work. After writing it down, examine other duties you have like side projects, hobbies, household responsibilities. Try to cut back the tasks that are unnecessary and only keep the necessary work on your plate. You can take your passion project and hobby later when your burnout is over.
Frequent breaks: If you procrastinate and end up doing work under pressure, burnout is nothing but a few weeks away. Thus, if you are burned out, do your work with frequent breaks in between. Instead of doing it at the last moment, do it throughout the day even though the pace is slow. Utilize the breaks to walk around or meditate. Try not to use your phone because it is such a slippery slope, and you may end up wasting two hours watching reels instead of working (been there, done that).
Schedule work: If you struggle with making and maintaining boundaries since most of us work remotely now, try scheduling work. Designate work between certain hours and close your laptop once you are done working. Allot the rest of the time to spend with your family or enjoy a Netflix show. You may go to the gym and work out The schedule will help you take planned breaks and keep you accountable. Completing your short-term goals will motivate you to keep writing, and it is necessary to keep writing even if it’s 1/10th of what you wrote before the burnout.
Haggle with the client: As an in-house content writer, you can ask for leaves or talk to your manager to ease the workload. And not every manager is understanding; thus, you should tread carefully when talking to your supervisor. However, freelancers have the liberty to discuss their deliverables with the client. As a freelancer, you may have demanding clients, and that can lead to overworking. Thus, set boundaries with your client regarding your work since you won’t deliver the content you promised pre-burnout. Clear communication is scary and something you may avoid, but it’s necessary to maintain trust and integrity. Moreover, if you do not communicate, you will lose the client.
Extend weekends: Extending your weekends often is more accessible for freelancers than in-office writers, but taking much-needed time off will do wonders for you and the quality of your work. It will help you get your creative juices flowing and give your mind the space it needs to heal. Use this time off to indulge in your hobbies or explore new places in your city. You can also use this time to meet your friends and enjoy their company. The time-off should take your attention away from work so that you can approach work with a new and fresh perspective.
How to prevent burnout?
Remove the clutter
Your workspace is sacred, so get moving and remove that clutter. Once you remove the mess, it will prevent that overwhelming feeling of panic and dread. The less you feel overwhelmed, the less are the chances of burnout.
Take criticism the right way.
Let’s be honest; we all have received criticism and hated the person who criticized us—not realizing that anger is masking the insecure feeling. And the underlying sense of insecurity and not feeling good enough can cause you to doubt yourself. Thus, take criticism the right way and do not take it personally. Your work is not you, so stop treating every feedback as a personal attack. Moreover, you must understand that criticism helps you become a better writer and thus is an excellent way of improving.
Mix it up
Working on similar projects can cause monotony and drain your creative juices. Thus, change it up and look for newer projects. And yeah, it’s easier to pick varying projects to keep your creativity fully charged when you are a freelancer. But what about those who are not freelancers? In-house writers can instead write in their leisure time for either a passion project or for fun. Either way, breaking the monotony will prevent writer’s burnout.
But sometimes, the solution is not to do more but to do less. Burnout is often caused by too much work; thus, saying no to projects and taking some time off to recharge is an excellent way of preventing burnout. But I understand that saying no is tough, but if you say yes to everything, you are saying no to yourself and your mental health.
Structure your work
As we discussed, procrastinating and doing all your work at the end moment can cause immense stress to you. Thus, try to structure your work and schedule it, so you do not end up working at the end moment. Create processes that take away the mental energy you spend planning your day and instead direct that energy towards writing. Thus, you produce quality work for your clients without much effort.
A simple way of creating a structure could be to figure out the tasks you are frequently doing, understand the workflow of those tasks and make a standard process. For example, you are writing social media posts for your client. You assess the exact workflow of the process (ideating, researching, writing, editing, sending it to the graphic designer, writing captions, researching and writing hashtags). You follow this exact process for each social media post until it becomes second nature. Thus, you will never skip any crucial aspects of a project, and you won’t have to struggle with “what to do next”.
Take care of yourself
Your mental health is related to your diet, exercise, and sleep pattern. Due to working from home, we sit on our work tables during the day and on our beds at night. Thus, we rarely get any exercise, and so you need to either join the gym or do light yoga to keep your body moving. Moreover, Zomato should not be your primary food source and thus opt for healthier food options to keep your gut happy. And you cannot miss your eight hours of sleep since sleep is directly linked to your creativity and problem-solving abilities; proper sleep is essential to every writer.
Constantly working, aka hustling, is not the key to career success. Instead, it is a sure-shot way to burnout. Thus, take time off to sleep, eat, and rest properly. Engage in a few hobbies after work and on weekends. A reasonable balance between work and life is necessary for your physical and mental wellbeing.
Stop WFB (working from bed)
I used to work from bed because it was convenient and comfortable. But, working from bed is the worst thing you can do for your productivity and creativity. Try going to a co-working space for a day and see the change you will notice. When working from bed, you have a haphazard routine, no hygiene, constant laziness, and dead creativity. Why? Because the bed is made for rest, not work. It is obvious to feel lazy when you are in bed and skip taking showers regularly.
When you opt for a co-working space, you need to shower, dress up, and physically move from your house. All of this creates a boundary between work and leisure that helps your brain switch from rest mode to work mode. Going back home does the same in reverse, and you can rest your brain for the next day’s work. If you do not want to spend on a co-working space, sit on a desk instead of sitting in your bed. You will still see a massive difference.
To sum up, we discussed that the meaning of burnout is feeling physically, mentally, emotionally tired due to stress. We also discussed what is burnout and busted some myths. To assess whether you are burned out, we had a list of symptoms of burnout, followed by causes of burnout. Next, we discussed how to recover from burnout and how to avoid it in the first place. Burnout in the workplace is common, and there is no shame in admitting it. Once you accept it, you can move towards recovery and keep moving towards your goal. We hope the blog on writer’s burnout helped, and we wish you a speedy recovery.
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