Five Ways To Beat Burnout

  • Career
    Five Ways To Beat Burnout

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Nabbing a job you love is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, working in the fashion industry is likely the fulfilment of a lifelong goal; the days of dressing up in your mum’s heels as a toddler and lunchtimes in the Textiles rooms at school have all led to this. And that’s exactly what makes career burnout all the more possible and devastating. 


Merriam-Webster dictionary defines burnout as ‘the cessation of operation, usually of a jet or rocket engine’. Wait. Wrong definition. The burnout I’m talking about is the ‘exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration’ and, according to Forbes, more and more millennial women are feeling this way before they turn 30. (They also have a heap of neat articles on the topic so you should, y’know, scoot on over and check those out after you’ve read this). The feeling is particularly prevalent in the fashion industry which, when you think about the expectation on designers to pump out countless products a year and the journos and shutterbugs desperately trying to keep up with the crazy number of seasons that now constitute a fashion calendar, shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Because when you’re super passionate about something, it’s so dang easy to cross the border into the land of Overworked and Overwhelmed. Volunteer at another show? Sure! Add a couple extra pieces to a collection? Of course! Interview another model? Why not? 


As an enthusiastic hard worker of Leslie Knope proportions, burnout is a feeling I’ve come to consider an old foe. We’ve met a couple times. Didn’t care much for him. Bit of a mood killer, if I’m honest. And while I’m not an expert or a superhero (you’re too kind!), I do have a few tricks up my on-trend sleeve to combat burnout. 


If you feeling burnout coming on, try…


Single tasking 


To quote the ever-wise Ron Swanson, ‘don’t half-ass two things, whole ass one thing’. I rejected this idea for a long time because I misinterpreted it as meaning I can only be working on one project at a time (and variety is the spice of life as the old adage goes, right?) but I’ve recently realised that it means I should only work on one task at one specific moment i.e. stop trying to lace up my shoes while brushing my teeth or interrupting article writing to fire off an email (ahem). Not only does this multitasking leave me with toothpaste down my chin and shoes on the wrong feet, it also has my brain feeling like scramble eggs and creates a sense of overwhelm that’s a solid two on the fun scale. 


Curbing your social pipes


Don’t get me wrong; I love social media. I feel #blessed to live in a time where I can creep on New York Fashion Week #lewks in real time or see photos of Timothée running into Ryan Gosling in an airport. But I know it can also encourage comparison and competitiveness that leads to me taking on more work than I can handle. When I start to feel the ick factor, I like to turn my phone on airplane mode for a few hours, disable WiFi connection and pretend it’s 1901. Or, like, 2007 – iPhones haven’t actually been around that long. 


If you’re deep in the throes of burnout, why not…


Start saying no


This feels counterproductive to success – after all, when we’re just getting our start we’re told to accept every opportunity. But when things are getting too much and the spark isn’t there, I (reluctantly) try to stopping adding even more to my workload. 


Take a day off


A day off? The shock! The horror! If, like me, you like to take your work home and are unfamiliar with the concept of weekends, it might be time to take *whispers* a break. I don’t mean chucking a sickie or ignoring work responsibilities – I mean actually recognising that Saturday and Sunday exist for a reason. Lily Herman, a writer who hass contributed to the likes of Teen VogueRefinery29,  Cosmopolitan and Elle,told ED2010, ‘I instituted a serious ‘no work on Saturdays’ rule that I’ve more or less stuck to. And if I break that rule, it’s for something incredibly important or career-changing. Otherwise I’m hanging out with friends, reading, napping, or doing something off the clock.’ And she seem to be doing just swell!


Find a non-work-related hobby


As a writer, I have a terrible habit of only allowing myself luxuries like going to gigs or buying new outfits by telling myself ‘I can write about it!’. Not the healthiest habit. I should allow myself to have fun because I’m a person, not just a writer. If you feel like your whole identity is tied up in your passion and work, burnout can be extra upsetting. Enter new hobby. I’ve recently taken up running and although I undeniably suck (I have the smashed iPhone and grazed thigh from falling into a ditch to prove it) I actually enjoy it, especially as a way to clear my head and relate to other parts of my personality. 


Pssst! If you’re a designer looking for a more nuanced guide on beating burnout, check out this article.


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