The World Health Organization (WHO) says to be “burnt out” is to feel like your energy is depleting, increased mental distance from your job/project, reduced professional efficiency.
Last year, WHO recognized burnout as an official illness. Burnout can come on in a number of ways, but the biggest factors are exhaustion, negativity, and inefficiency for your job/project. This is more common than you would think!
Vanessa Bohns, an organizational behavior professor at Cornell University says “With the suddenness and degree of the shift to remote work, the loss of childcare, and all of the worries that accompany the pandemic and its economic fallout, all of the things that typically cause burnout are intensified, which means the risk of burnout is intensified”.
According to evolutionary psychologists, we understand what it is to be with someone and we understand what it is to not be with someone. Our brain can process those and has a system set up for our psychological resources. Video chats are different. They are in-between those two states; so our brain doesn’t quite know how to deal with that particular state and we wind up draining our psycho-cognitive-emotional stores a lot faster. When you find yourself exhausted, acknowledge that it’s not due to a failing of your resilience. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of the technology that is allowing us to be connected at all. It’s amazing, but it also brings new challenges. Take time for yourself. Be gentle and kind.
When the magnitude of what is lost and what you are unable to do hits you, I invite you to simply ask “what can I do?” (Not “what more can I do”).
The situation we are in right now is so easily defined by limitation and loss, but structural limits or rules often invite creativity. Some days the answer to “what can I do” will be that I can wake up, make myself some food, and be gentle with myself and those I interact with. Other days the answer is that I can spend two hours on a script, an hour and a half researching, make a new recipe, and manage to FaceTime three friends. Neither one of those options is better. Each are honest, worthwhile responses- you are fine where you are.
You do not need to be doing more. Taking care of yourself and helping those around you are the most important tasks to be achieved right now.
P.S. While Zoom and other digital communications are the norm right now, we are slowing getting to a place where our countries can begin to open again. And with that comes more face to face contact. See how other Theater Makers are handling the transition from virtual to in person events by jumping into the conversation on The TheaterMakers Studio! Click here to try it out for 30 days free!