Ask This One Question to Get Yourself Out of Burnout

I think I’ve cracked burnout recovery.

The single question you need to keep asking yourself to get out of burnout: what do I enjoy, really?

Not what you should enjoy, not what you had enjoyed, not what you know you enjoyed in the past.

Just: what do I need and enjoy right now?

Ask yourself that question right now and then give yourself the permission to follow whatever it says. Keep checking in every day, every hour. Keep giving that to yourself until a new answer came up. Then start executing that new answer.

Add one good thing to your days and let them pile up. Introduce good things one by one. One solid layer on top of another.

The success of this method depend solely on you committing to 1) asking, 2) listening to and respecting your answer, and 3) being patient.

If you’re like me, it might take some practice to get your voice loud enough to cut through the mental chatters and noise again, being somewhat out of touch with what you need — being numb, living too much in the head and not enough as a full being.

You can’t plan it, can’t control it, can’t rush it.

Just let yourself guide you. There is no logical step to it.

I started doing that in July and the first answer that came up was sleep.

It stayed with me for 2 weeks. it forced me to make tradeoffs. I prioritise sleep, any other responsibilities that can’t be compromised, and aggressively cut down all the other. it wasn’t easy.

Then I sensed I needed a way to unwind the mental stress. I ended up seeking out entertaining videos on Youtube — dropped cold turkey the usual mode of reading and learning voraciously. Did that for 2-3 weeks. Gave myself the permission to “slack off”. Convincing myself that I am not wasting time; I’m rewiring my brain.

You’ll know the moment when it has stopped really being the thing you need, so don’t worry about falling into bad habit of sleeping too much, or gotten addicted to your phone.

You’ll know if you’re feeding yourself or you’ve crossed into the realm of emotionally eating.

You’ll know if you are genuinely unwinding or are mindlessly consuming social media.

Just remember to ask and listen.

When you sense it has turned into painkilling, numbing, and distraction seeking activity, ask yourself that question again: what do I enjoy, really?

Even if you think you’d enjoy reading or you have enjoyed listening to music in the past, don’t force yourself to do it and think “this should be enjoyable”. Try it but don’t force it if you don’t feel it.

It’s easier to be in consumption mode when you’re in front of a screen and it’s easier to be in production mode when you’re not in front of a screen. Consuming is passive and easy. Producing and working on things with your hands are engaging and fulfilling. Try drawing, painting, writing, cooking, cleaning. gardening, driving around town, and having phone calls.

Work, rest, play.

Also published on Medium.

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