The Writer's Cookbook

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Are you on the brink of burning out? Discover the signs of burnout and how to cope.

How to Deal With Stress and Burnout

Think of your energy levels like a battery.

Certain things recharge that battery, while others drain it.

You may find dealing with people draining, while alone time recharges you.

You may find that some days writing helps you to recharge, while on other days it drains you.

It can depend on what stage of the writing process you’re at, or what’s going on in your life outside of your writing.

Just like when you let your phone battery get close to 0%, the lower your battery levels get, the longer it takes to recharge.

Physical symptoms of stress and burnout:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Shortness of breath (and exacerbated asthma if you have/had it)
  • Palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Weakened immune system (making you more likely to develop colds or viruses)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain and digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Hair loss
  • Weak and brittle nails
  • Skin problems, from acne to eczema and everything in between

Psychological symptoms of stress and burnout:

  • Memory problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy

When you’re burnt out, there really is only one thing to do: rest. It’s a lot harder to give your all to something if you’ve only got 10% battery remaining.

When you’re burnt out, there really is only one thing to do: rest. Click To Tweet

Whatever helps you to recharge, do it. For me, it’s trashy TV and true crime documentaries. You know I’m ill when I binge watch the latter.

Even if you’re an introvert, there may be people who help you to recharge just by their presence.

Spend time with them (or if they’re too far away, chat to them on Skype or FaceTime).

Talk to them about what’s going on inside your head and why you’re so drained.

If you can’t, don’t be afraid to sit in silence—with real friends, there’s no need to constantly fill the voice. They won’t love you any less for it.

Most importantly, get hugs.

Hugs from loved ones and even our pets are proven to make us feel better.

Hugs from loved ones and even our pets are proven to make us feel better. Click To Tweet

That’s why animal therapy is used in some hospitals and nursing homes.

Animals listen and love us without judgement, and there’s something very special about that.

If you run around with a low battery for too long, it leads to depression, anxiety, eating disorders and more.

If you run around with a low battery for too long, it leads to depression, anxiety, and more. Click To Tweet

Don’t let it get to this point—taking time to recharge is imperative.

If you’re already at that point, speak to your doctor.

There could be other factors at play that mean your battery drains more quickly than others people’s, such as a vitamin D deficiency (which can cause/exacerbate depression), or fibromyalgia (which can leave you constantly drained).

While there isn’t a cure for everything that drains us, there are ways of dealing with them.

It’s important to have an arsenal of these things to help us to recharge when we need it.

How burnt out are you?

Make a list of everything you do daily, every few days, and every week.

On the next page, split it down the middle.

On one side write down tasks that drain you, and on the other side write down things that help you to recharge.

If you’re unsure, think about how you feel during and after certain activities.

What leaves you smiling?

What makes you want to reach for your duvet?

Some things may have a more significant affect than others.

When you’ve finished, think about how you spend your day.

Do you spend more time on activities that drain your battery, or on ones that recharge it?

Is there anything you could do to distribute them more evenly throughout your day?

You can’t avoid every task that drains you, but breaking up your day so that you don’t spend all day on draining activities keeps your battery levels steady and helps you to avoid burning out.

The signs of stress and burnout, and how to cope: Click To Tweet

Productivity for Writers by Kristina Adams: How to write more, defeat your inner critic, and make the most of every minute.This is an excerpt from Productivity for Writers. If you’d like to find out how to write more, defeat your inner critic, and make the most of every minute, preorder your copy today.

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2 Comments

  1. That’s a great article on burn-out. I’ve got some go-to friends who always make me feel better just for being with them or talking to them. I also know who to avoid when my energies are low.

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