The “Behind The Scenes” series is a chance for us to give you a glimpse into the inner workings of HabitRPG, Inc., the company that makes Habitica. Every so often, we’ll treat you to some silly staff shenanigans or show you the work that goes into your favorite features. Enjoy!
Hello Habiticans! It’s November, which means we’re right in the thick of the school year and at the start of the rush into the holidays. And after that, we’re into the New Year! How time flies. At times like this, we may find ourselves extra busy, and when we’re extra busy there’s a chance that we may experience the dreaded burnout! In this Behind the Scenes post, some of the Habitica Staff + Mods share their tips and tricks for preventing and recovering from burnout.
Beth, AKA Beffymaroo:
My number one tip is to remember that being overwhelmed shouldn’t be a natural state of being or a state to aspire to. There’s a lot of pressure from different parts of our identities, surroundings, and the people in our lives to be constantly on the go or busy, and then when we actually have a moment where we’re not doing something work-related or “productive”, we feel guilty, like we’re wasting time. You should have moments of quiet, fun, or even just inactivity in your day so you can recharge your body, mind, and soul. Don’t let the “always busy” culture or comparisons with other people make you feel guilty for taking a moment for yourself or for keeping your workload manageable. The time you take for yourself and the boundaries you set for self-care time are an important part of being sustainably functional and productive!
Make sure you take regular time off no matter what, and ask for help even when you know the people you’re asking are also busy. Accept that your feelings of burnout are normal and correct. You are meant to feel like this when you have been working too hard. It’s your mind and body’s way of letting you know that changing your processes is necessary to help yourself and to help the people you are doing work/favours/etc for. Also check out Vicky’s post about Meditation.
Paglias, AKA Matteo:
I’ve found it super useful not to work after a certain hour in the evening. It’s improved my sleep a lot and together with trying not to work during the weekend, this has really helped with burnout 🙂
Vicky AKA Redphoenix: Things that are on my short list for burnout recovery:
- Physical workouts. Running, hiking, yoga, calisthenics, helping a friend move, whatever. This is because the next item on my list is
- Sleep. Burnout for me frequently manifests physically, and one of the issues is that I start not sleeping well. The point at which I realize I need to pull back a little for sustainability is when I basically lose an entire day to sleep recovery.
- Non-work blackout times. This frequently self-enforces without my consciously noticing it, but I do try to carve out spaces in my day where I tell myself I’m allowed not to be working. Generally applicable tip: Look for activities where you hit flow state, but are not work-related. Then SCHEDULE THEM IN as a non-negotiable obligation, either by putting them on your calendar, or scheduling to meet with a friend, or pulling together the physical supplies you need to do the thing.
- A Treat. ideally something out of the ordinary. This doesn’t have to be expensive. My favorite little treats for myself have been: dressing up for a gallery show, trying out a new coffeeshop, sub $5 fountain pens. Occasionally, the Treat has been as small as “going outside where I can sit in the sun for a while”.
Leslie AKA Lemoness:
- Pay attention to your own personal burnout triggers. Productivity and self-care are very personal things, and what works for someone else may not work for you. Finding a way to keep track of what does and doesn’t work can be useful in developing your own strategies.
- For me, I have to be cautious about getting too into the zone with work, to the point where I’ll keep working all night, every night. I can handle a few days like this, but long-term, it’s proven to be a recipe for disaster. The way that I combat this on a day-to-day basis is by setting a designated time where there is a very clear break point to stop working — in my case, dinnertime. Then I have someone who can keep me accountable and prevent me from returning to my work afterwards.
- The time when I have to be the most cautious is actually during the burnout recovery period, when I start feeling energetic again, but my battery has a more limited charge (so to speak). History has shown that I tend to think, “I’m better! Time to massively overcommit again!” and then REALLY wreck myself. This is the equivalent of injuring your ankle and then, after a week of rest, saying, “Hey, I can stand again! Let’s run a marathon this weekend.” Although it can feel frustrating, like you’re holding back your potential, it is critically important to continue your recovery behaviors for longer than you think is necessary. Otherwise, you’ll be out of commission much longer.
- Finally, if your burnout becomes a long-term, persistent depression, consider seeking help from a professional. There is no shame in reaching out to a mental health professional when you’re suffering, just as there is no shame in going to the doctor when you have pneumonia.
Sabe AKA SabreCat:
The “take a break” type advice tends to send me into a spiral of doing nothing / doing only recreational-recuperative things. So rather than step back, I prefer to scale down:
- Reduce sources of pressure and overwhelm. In Habitica, move things from Dailies to Habits wherever possible, and drink a Fortify Potion to blank out the stressful redness. Swap in low-pressure social activities, like board games, for high-pressure ones, like dinner hosting.
- Find a minimum comfortable degree of productivity, and stick to that: the “No More Zero Days” approach. Does working the inbox feel crushing and impossible? Resolve to respond to just one message. Too many dirty dishes? Polish one up and put it away. You’ll almost always end up doing more, but getting started won’t feel so frightening.
Keith AKA TheHollidayInn:
Building small habits of doing work daily helps prevent burnout. Slightly counter-intuitive, but for me building coding, reading, etc in small bits to my daily routine outside the 9-5 helps integrate the flow so that I don’t get the feeling of “Oh, it is 9 o’clock, time to change my mindset completely and work hard on problems.”
We hope these tips and strategies help you prevent burnout, and help you recover if burnout has already taken hold of you! We’d also love to hear your tips, either as comments here on the blog or in the Tavern Chat! Until next time. 🙂