At the beginning of the month I made the realization that I was exhausted. Not just tired, but on the road to a breakdown. I was constantly fatigued, having trouble maintaining focus, and dehydrated. To deal with my condition I cut back on my workload and increased time for self-care. Since then I’ve been getting enough rest, eating healthier, drinking enough water, and taking better care of myself. Yet I still feel essentially the same as I did weeks ago. I’m not just exhausted, I’m burned out.

There’s actually a model for this. called the Job Demands-Resources model, or JD-R. When work pressure and emotional demands are high, so is our stress. No kidding, right? When job resources, which are essentially things that reduce job demands, are low, then stress is also high. This is why we all have to choke back the urge to slap our boss when they tell us we have to do more with less. They’ve increased the pressure while removing the mechanisms to relieve it. Even if you love what you do, stress and occupational burnout can suck all the joy from it.

Because I’m self-employed and running a bootstrap business, I can’t increase my resources. The only thing I can do is to decrease demands. I’ve already done that by changing my schedule. Projects have been back-burnered, moved to development hell, or canceled outright. It’s better. It’s easier. I’m still fried. The universe is being unkind, reminding me that I am getting older and I do not bounce back from things as quickly as I used to.

I need to find ways to reduce my work demands that don’t result in a further decrease in resources, i.e. earnings, leading to a downward spiral. No matter what, I still need to earn a living. So I simplify. I get creative. I try to thrive. In the short term, at least, this just means that I’ve replaced one set of demands with another.

The good news is that the reorganization that I’ve been doing is just about done, so that will be off my plate. Some projects I was committed to are likewise nearly complete, and then they’ll be off my plate as well. Until further notice, anything that I’m not actively talking about, posting about, or updating is on hold. I’m making decisions slowly as I get to things, and will be adding things back into my schedule over the next few weeks.

There’s no big takeaway here, really. I’m not making any grand proclamations. There will be no soft reboot. It’s just life. I will deal with things one day at a time, as I have the energy to do so, and hopefully work back up to a realistic and manageable level of productivity. Until then, I thank you for your continued support.

6 thoughts on “I’m Not Just Exhausted, I’m Burned Out

  1. Melissa Morgan says:

    Thank you for sharing how you are feeling and the great strategies you are using to navigate this situation. I too am struggling with these issues and I find the approach you are taking to be very helpful to me. I hope you feel better soon. Hugs! My love to Katie!

  2. Thanks, Mel. This is just what “normal” is going to look like for a while.

  3. Geoff Nelson says:

    In the midst of that, I can’t imagine that you have time to read, but I absolutely reccommend “The Upside of Stress” by Kelley McGonigal. The title makes it sound…I dunno, dumb, but it’s solid, research-based, and fast. Here’s the TED talk she gave that gave rise to the book, which is much more focused on application:

    https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend

  4. Reading and self-work is something I’m making time for. I’ll check out the TED Talk. Thanks, Geoff!

  5. Take care of yourself, my friend.

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