And The one thing I did to recover from my burnout before it got any worse
I recently hit (waaaay) past my burnout stage. With no resort getaways or exotic holidays on the horizon to keep me going, I was feeling overwhelmed, angry, and unproductive. Things that I normally love—styling shoots and catching up with friends—just felt like it was all too much. I remember being so overwhelmed that I cried one night for no reason! I could finally resonate with Raf Simons’ heroic decision to leave Dior, as well as the likes of Cathy Horn, Suzy Menkes, and even Alber Elbaz who shifted gears to pause, to simply recover from years of burnout.
The biggest problem with being burnout and anxious is taking that time off to recover feels self-indulgent and maybe even a bit selfish when you’re working in a team or have people relying on you. I mean, the whole world is currently over-worked and stressed so who am I to say, “Oh sorry, I am taking a week off and cancelling everything to go for long lunches, watch telly, and read books”? I wonder if our grandparents’ generation ever experienced this level of frequent burnouts, or is it just us because we are constantly plugged in?
The biggest problem with being burnout and anxious is taking that time off to recover feels self-indulgent and maybe even a bit selfish
I couldn’t meditate or read a book or do anything to snap out of it. I had too much on, but at the same time I was distracted and couldn’t focus. My productivity at work was down by 50%.
But the one thing I did to help me out of this situation—one that I can swear by because it’s as good as therapy—is tidying up
Not the "life-changing magic of tidying up" just tidying up - a simple monotonous, repetitive chore that requires barely any mental energy. I felt a lot better.
I removed every item out of my wardrobe and sorted it all out. I did that for six hours on a Sunday while listening to music, occasionally pausing for tea + telly breaks, and at the end, I was in a good mood. Clearing up all the clutter from my wardrobe simply helped me reclaim it and feel accomplished in some way. It was something easy, repetitive, and didn’t require too much mental energy.
THE KEY IS...
Doing something that is meditative but productive.
Sometimes even doing something small such as tidying up your desk area or organising the top (junk) drawer can help put you in a better mood. Re-arrange your books or colour coordinate your wardrobe—anything that takes your mind off work stress but still feels like you have accomplished something.
SO HOW TO RECOGNISE A BURNOUT BEFORE IT GET ANY WORSE?
Tired, stressed, pessimistic, and distracted are all the telltale signs. If you’re feeling like you’re constantly in a bad mood, there is a chance you need to pause and asses before it gets any unhealthier.
THE BIGGEST TAKEAWAY
The one thing that I wrestled with and it’s taken me a while to implement is saying ‘no’. It’s harder said than done, especially when you need to step back and access and go back to your team or even a job opportunity (if you’re a freelancer) and simply say no. In my opinion, it’s better to say no than to deliver something under-whelming and I am sure your client/team would appreciate the honesty right from the beginning.
Hope this post helps you if you're also feeling over-worked and burnt out.
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Image | Teen Vogue
Zeenat Wilkinson is the Founder and Editorial Director of Sauce.
Her work as a fashion producer, writer, and freelance stylist can be seen in the likes of Vogue, Grazia, Nylon and Black Magazine. 100% dog person.