Bored or Burnout?


Do you remember being Bored as a kid? It was agony.  Now that we are older, we experience something called Burnout, which is even more agonizing than boredom. Both Burnout and Boredom can completely zap your creative energy. Many women in America have experienced Burnout at some time or another. What’s expected of women, and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things - and, women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you. . you’re too Fat, too Needy, too Noisy, and too Selfish? And, how do you know if you’re experiencing burnout or you’re just bored?  Read on. . .

What does Burnout really mean?

Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped. It's a result of excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress. In many cases, burnout is related to one's job. You already have an intuitive sense of what Burnout means, even if you haven’t experienced it. In the context of your creative hobbies, you will likely have a sense of what it means to get burned out on them too. Yes. . you usually enjoy them, but suddenly you’re tired of them. 

You might have heard the term compassion fatigue. If you care about something, and it is something that you've been caring about deeply for a long time, eventually you can become emotionally depleted. It can feel so similar to boredom. In the book called Burnout, the authors say that the term “burnout” was coined by Herbert Freudenberger, and he defined three components of burnout  - - - First is emotional exhaustion, the fatigue that comes from carrying too much for too long. Second is depersonalization, which is the depletion of empathy, caring, and compassion. The third component is a decreased sense of accomplishment, an unconquerable sense of futility, or a feeling that nothing you do makes any difference.

How are Burnout and Boredom similar?

Most of us will have experienced both at some point in our lives. Usually boredom is explained away as a lack of imagination, motivation, or organization. Boredom can be caused by a number of factors, but the most common is being stuck in a repetitive or monotonous experience. We can notice this almost anywhere, from tedious tasks at work, studying for an exam, to waiting in line at the supermarket. Like burnout, boredom can feel a little exhausting. It's hard to get excited to do something you used to love doing. If you're really bored with what you're doing, you don't have the energy for it. So that’s more likely to be boredom and not burnout. The decreased sense of accomplishment with burnout is also a feeling that’s heavily associated with boredom. 

So if you’re Bored or Burned out, what do you do?

Questions to ask yourself.

  • Are you feeling any other symptoms of burnout in addition to a sense of boredom? For example, think about emotional exhaustion & depersonalization. Is this feeling across the board in your life, or just in one specific area? Burnout tends to spread.
  • What type of creative activity will be most fulfilling for you right now? Think about using a speed dial for your creative activities. If you're bored, you might need a challenge, and you need to crank up that speed dial. Try a project that will introduce new skills or involve risks. If you're feeling burned out, you might need a more gentle creative practice, so turn down that speed dial. 
  • What kind of creative activities can you incorporate on an ongoing basis to prevent burnout and stress? Preventative medicine is a thing, and so is preventative creativity! Seeking rewarding creative moments can help pull you out of burnout. For example. . try blocking out time to do what you love to do on your calendar, or browse the infamous You Tube University for like minded creators, when you’re feeling bored. 

Burnout and Boredom are two very different processes with the same result - you just don’t care as much anymore.  Of course, we don’t all experience boredom in the same way. Some of us have a greater need for external stimulation, and excitement than others. Take up a gratitude practice. Whenever you’re feeling too bored or too busy, stop to think about all the things that are going well. Being able to simply say, “I got out of bed this morning,” and “I have food to eat,” help you take stock of your blessings. 

If you want to recover from burnout while still on the job, making changes to your habits and daily lifestyle is the way forward. By making small adjustments to your everyday routine can alleviate stress in the long run. Make enough time for restful sleep. Try to get some physical activity in each day. Eat nutritious meals, stay hydrated and try mindfulness practices for improved relaxation. And, whatever happens in your day, do something that gives YOU Joy.

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