work
2012 drawing.

It is difficult to just said that we have something without actually having a medical degree but I feel burnout. As a mother / computer engineer / partner of Alex I thought that I was capable of archive everything in my life.

I wanted all: family, job, health, fun... but in the real life is not that easy. I was trying to juggle all of this for years and in some point I was working more than 8 hours per day. It was out of control and it transformed me from a positive thinking person into a Sad Ogre.

Although nowadays I don't work 10 hours a day, I still suffer from the consequences. I have more than 2 years with stress related symptoms: I get sick all the time and now I rarely commit to big projects, I have anxiety attacks, depression and on top of all... I have no money. I had spent all my savings because I couldn't work properly after my burnout.

I tried everything to get out of this bottomless pit and here is what the nice people in the Internet help me to come up with. So if you're going through a pretty rough time, try not to end up like me and check this out. Warning: Each person is different, so you just have to find what it works for you and change it through time to adapt to every circumstance.

Meditate

20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night (before going to bed). You can start by doing only 5 minutes.

meditate
My favorite teacher Susana Ferrer.

Practice some hobby

Having something that involves fine motor control is very relaxing. You can try: gardening, skateboarding, rock climbing, anything that makes you enjoy life. In my case is cooking or do something creative that does not involves the computer.

cooking
I made this bread, not so fancy but I used to burn everything before.

Play a video game

Is all about controlling the time you are going to spend in this sort of activities, I personally love playing at the end of the day for one hour or two: Heroes of the storm, Diablo, Simulation games or any wacky RPG.

play
Heroes of the Storm - you need a Battlenet account.

Take breaks

I was such a fan of "The pomodoro technique" in which you work without distraction for 25 minutes and then you rest 5 minutes, when you complete 4 "pomodoros" you can rest 20 minutes. It was pretty good for my back problems... but it was useless if you have a day full of meetings. Advice: Take a break every hour and if you can't just get up of the chair for a little while.

The pomodoro technique break
My morning desk with plenty of light and my beloved coffee

Find support

Surrounding yourself with supportive people is THE BEST thing. Alex and my son Edd are the best, they listen to me and every hug is like a band-aid to my soul. Talk about what's bothering you with some friends and if you don't have friends you can just ask in a general chat for advice. I posted my concern about my burnout on a slack community, telegram and twitter. In all this places people was pretty helpful and offered me some tips.

Barinas
My son playing with a swing set in Barinas.

Make house chores fun

Listen to music, webinars or podcasts while doing some activity. You can also rely on your family, I know it is difficult, but my 10 years old is now helping me to cook and he knows how to make coffee (such a great buddy). Finally, if you feel like you don't want to do it just do 20 minutes of the task in silence (like cleaning meditation) and leave the rest for another moment

music
Screaming with this guys always makes me feel good.

Relax

Take a nap, I know! it's difficult if you don't work from home (you should talk with your boss about it). It actually helps to reset your brain and it's pretty useful if you feel too tired to work. Other tips for relaxation: take a long bath or just do nothing.

relax
Our lazy dogs: Vashj and Chimi.

Re-charge

In my case I couldn't live without coffee, but you can drink other soft drinks. I recommend green tea or a cacao infusion.

tea
Green tea with sweets (dulces andinos).

Feel pretty

Try to look good, since I work from home I do not need to get "dressed" or put makeup on. But I do it anyways in order to feel "prepared to work". So! get fancy: shave, put cologne, comb your hair; you will feel better and this will wake you up of that early morning sleepy mode.

tita
Lady Tita de Pompadour aka Perrini (Houdini) for her escape attempts.

News without stress

Don't watch the news, just find a journalist that do reviews of the news in the way you will enjoy to read them. If you live in a country like Venezuela you have to skip the bad news and just try to keep a positive set of mind while being informed.

If you are from Venezuela and oposition I’ll recommend El Zaperoco de Naky (If you have any good journalist from your political view, please contact me to update this information)

news
Anti government march, San Cristóbal - Táchira.

The magic trick

Make big problems smaller: break the problems into little pieces and take one at the time using priorities, this apply to work and chores.

Keep it simple

This advice is from Louis Elfman UX/UI Design Lead CoreLogic:

"Stay off the computer for a while outside of work. No tv/movies and no social media. "

Take a break from technology if you feel too overwhelmed: go out, enjoy the little things.


flower

Other tips

Other tips that might work for you (but are not so great for me):

  • Watch a TV series: If I let myself go, I get sucked into the TV and I feel like I have wasted my time.
  • Check twitter: I check twitter every day and I have too many things in my "to read" list (writing to friends is nice though).
  • Check facebook: I only use facebook because I'm in a couple of UX and support groups, but it is not pretty (the UI is crazy).
  • Eat chocolate or candy: The effect goes pretty quickly in my case, the only way this might work for me is if I prepare tons of healthy snacks.

And finally remember that feeling this way is normal, everyone have this sort of ups and downs. It doesn't mean your career is over, "Puedes darle la vuelta" - "spin this up" as my great grandma said. In the end is about having fun in between and try to relax when is needed.

Feel free to write me back if you have other tips, I would love to add them and actually put them on practice.

PS: I'm not a native English speaker, feel free to contact me with any comments about this post.