Does anyone remember the California energy crisis and rolling blackouts? Because I grew up in California, they were a regular part of my childhood. The electricity would work and then, all of a sudden, it would go out–sometimes for days at a time. But, eventually the lights would go back on again.
Unfortunately, I experienced my own blackout recently. Or, as more people refer to it, I’ve been feeling “burnt out”. I’ve been in school without taking breaks since Fall 2011 while trying to juggle other hectic components of my life: working 2 jobs, homework, practicum hours, spending time with my husband, church callings, and other obligations.
I didn’t even realize how burnt out I felt until one day someone asked me, “Are you excited to be a teacher?” At that moment, I couldn’t honestly answer, “Yes”. My mind and body were just exhausted. I was going through the motions at school and work, but I was so overworked that it was hard to feel enthusiastic about anything. I was in survival mode–trying to breathe while trying to accomplish everything on my increasingly long to-do lists.
That’s when I realized there was a problem. I should be excited; I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl. But I honestly didn’t feel much of anything. How could I recapture my enthusiasm? How could I rejuvenate? How could I make the lights go on after this blackout?
It took me a little while to figure things out. However, I learned what to do to rejuvenate and I feel so much better now. Here’s some things that I’ve been doing to rejuvenate:
1) Taking Breaks. This must sound so straightforward, but it wasn’t for me. I felt that since I had so much to do, that I needed to work ALL the time. But in the end, working all the time just made me super stressed out. I was so busy stressing out that I wasn’t getting much done anyway. When I started taking breaks, I was much calmer than before; I actually got more done than when I was working all the time.
One break I especially like is baking!
2) Spending time with loved ones. I always feel rejuvenated after going on a date with my husband, playing with my niece or nephew, talking to my mom or my sister, or just taking the time to really talk and listen to one of my neighbors or classmates. As I talked and spent time with these people, I was able to enjoy their company, talk through some of my problems, but most importantly, focus on someone else besides myself. It helped me put things in perspective and have fun at the same time.
3) Time in Nature. In the break between winter semester and spring term, my husband and I had the chance to go camping in Zion National Park. Surrounded by so much natural beauty, I was filled with awe. I finally felt excited and enthusiastic again. Although I know I can’t always steal away to a national park, I’ve also been filled with awe by the natural beauty around me every day. From a beautiful sunrise, the outline of the mountains against the sky, or how the leaves on a tree overlap, I’m constantly in awe by the beauty of the world that God has created. When I take the time to see the beauty around me, I feel happier and more enthusiastic.
So, for me, turning the “lights” back on didn’t have much to do with electricity, but instead it consisted of relaxing and recreating in ways that helped me reappreciate the world around me.
What kinds of things have you done to rejuvenate when you’ve felt burnt out?