Today was a hard day. I am feeling burned out, and there is no end to the cause of the burnout in sight. Work is busy, but it isn't work causing the burnout. It is everything else, and while I can take time off work, there is no escaping the everything else right now. So I have been thinking about what I can do to alleviate the burnout when I can't escape its cause. I decided that maybe writing a post about the things that have actually helped might help me think of more.
One thing that has helped a lot is finding a book that can pull me in and thoroughly distract me. This is easier said than done. I have tried many books, and most have not done this. In the early days, I started to fear I wouldn't be able to read - I kept trying and not being able to stay focused on the book. But then I read the manuscript that will be the next Annorlunda Books release, Lagoonfire, by Francesca Forrest (cover reveal just posted this week!) and it completely sucked me in and I realized I'd just need to keep trying different books until I found one that absorbed me. Here are the books that have worked so far:
- Agency, by William Gibson. I've written about this at length before. Even though The Jackpot feels disturbingly close, it is not the focus and the plot is so engrossing that both this book and The Peripheral (which is the first in the series) manage to feel like a warning and yet still be a fun read.
- High Risk, by Chavi Eve Karkowsky. I knew from my days following the author's blog that the writing in this book would be wonderful. It is more than just beautiful writing, though: It is a well-constructed exploration of maternal-fetal health and I found it somehow calming despite the high stakes topics being discussed.
- American by Day, by Derek B. Miller. I read this one because my book club picked it. I am so glad we picked it - I would never have found it otherwise, and it was a thoroughly diverting mystery/action story with some good thought-provoking things about American culture thrown in. I've got the first book in the series (Norwegian by Night) waiting for me to get time to try it.
And that's it. I've tried a lot of other books. Some, I finished (usually the book club books), others I decided to set aside and try in less distracting times.
I would dearly love to find TV to watch that would feel good and distracting, but so far the only series we've watched that really worked for me is The Mandalorian. We watch a lot of 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown on YouTube, too, but that is more just a filler than a proper distraction.
We've been having family movie night just about every week. Mostly, I do this because the rest of the family likes it. But my recent choice of Bill and Ted Face the Music was a good one - for some reason, that movie made me really happy, and it gave me the escapism that people like about movies (most movies do not do this for me).
I had hoped that getting back out on my rollerblades would help, but I am not sure it does. There are too many other people, even when I go early, and too many of them aren't wearing masks, creating extra stress around navigating the crowded spots.
The exercise habit that seems to help the most right now is going for a walk in my neighborhood while listening to podcasts. I have recently started trying to go out for at least a short walk between the end of my work day and the time I need to start dinner. I found that I missed the way listening to podcasts on my drive home helped me switch off my work brain, and so I'm trying to replicate that with walks.
I like to sit in our backyard with a glass of wine and watch the light fade and the birds fly over head. I haven't been able to do that this week. It looks like the fire that is fouling my air right now may be brought under control sooner than expected. We caught a break and had cooler weather and less wind than expected today. So maybe I'll be back to that habit soon.
If I am in the right mood, practicing embroidery is relaxing. I usually listen to podcasts while I do that, too. I may decide I am ready to move on from just practicing stitches to stitching a simple design.
One of the things I usually do when I'm feeling burned out is plan a getaway - even if it is just a day trip somewhere close to home, getting away helps. This is not possible now, and so I have turned to looking through photos from past vacations. This has been surprisingly helpful. I wrote about my latest trip down memory lane over at Adjusted Latitudes. Maybe I should try to post more there, if only to get time browsing through old photos!
The other thing I find soothing is listening to music on YouTube, and trying to find new things. I guess it is a way to explore when we can't actually go out and explore. Here is one of the new songs Mr. Snarky and I found and like:
And that's all I have. I will piece together some combination of things to get past this bout of burnout. What are you doing these days to keep yourself feeling somewhat OK?