Tips on self-care

Book suggestion: Dear Writer, are you in burnout?

By Becca Syme

I read this book when I was in a (creative) burnout. And it felt like I was reading my own story. It was so very relatable.
So, if you're in burnout, read it. And if you're a writer who tends to constantly push yourself to your limits, most definitely read it! That way, you can prevent yourself from ending up in a place where you can't even do the things that once made you happy... 

Not convinced? 

This is what I learned:

  1. Energy is a finite resource. Every day you have a certain number of energy pennies to spend. You might be able to store some of them, but even that is a finite ability. And remember, even the smallest decisions, like 'Do I put sugar in my coffee?'. Or the smallest frustrations, like not getting a task done, can cost a great amount of pennies without you realizing it.
  2. The things we often call "procrastination" are, for most of us, writers, the energy producing activities that we actually need in order to maintain our pace. For example: reading, watching a good movie,...
  3. Your body is the source of your creativity. Don't disconnect your brain from your body because it's easier not to think about it.
  4. Be happy with the size of plate (= a metaphor for how much stress you can handle) you have and learn how to fill it. And if you notice you need to be doing more, first ask yourself: is this coming from a desire to have more to do, or is it coming from fear of missing out? If it's the second one, you have to talk back to that fear. 
  5. Always consider realigning your expectations to get rid of essential pain. For instance, if you have limited time and you are doing your best, you have to disconnect the part of your brain telling you that you should be doing more.
  6. The bigger you build your Phantom Plate of Unfinished Tasks (=a list of things you want to do or think you should be doing), the more likely you are to hit burnout. Start dismantling that plate today. What are the unrealistic expectations that drive me to keep the Phantom Plate in motion?
  7. The most important part of recovery is gentleness. When you're in recovery, you're not really you. You have to build yourself back up so you can be you again. And that takes time.

And finally, I want to end by quoting Becca with what I think is the essence of this book, and perhaps even life: 
"Life is a game. The finitude of resources is one of the elements of that game that makes it worth playing. Accepting that finitude is hard, but important. It will allow you to play this game with the most self-awareness and the most creative ability possible."