It’s very likely that you (and almost everyone around you) are suffering some degree of burnout right about now. Between work, various debts, the pandemic, the financial crisis and the precarious nature of our future, it’s hard to feel like you can stop and take a breather. Fortunately, this week we’re talking with journalist and writer Anne Helen Petersen to find out what we can do about it.
Tune in to hear Anne’s advice on how to recognise signs of your own burnout and learn the steps we need to take both individually and as a society in order to hopefully get us on a better track. Anne’s latest book, Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, comes out in September.
Highlights from this week’s episode
From the Anne Helen Petersen Interview
On how the hyper-productivity mindset gets in the way of basic life to-dos:
Many millennials I know their entire lives, they have just been trying to be productive and to work as much as possible. So what an errand is, is a time that you are not working. So it feels like something that is unproductive, even though obviously it’s just part of life, like dropping your shoes off at the cobbler, getting your knives sharpened like those are parts of everyday life. But if you have programmed your brain to think that any time that you are not working is somehow unproductive bad time, it’s easy to resent those things, whether it’s like hanging out with friends or just doing an errand as nonproductive spaces.
On what gives her hope about changing the culture of hyper-productivity:
[I]t doesn’t have to be this way. If we can imagine and even just remember, like, think back not that long ago that there was a different way that we related to work. There was a safety net that we relied upon. There are examples across the world, you know, economies where precarity is not the norm. So that gives me hope.
On how to start recognising your own burnout and start giving yourself more space:
[T]here’s this feeling that somehow you need to optimise everything in your life. And I just don’t think you do, right. You should do things that take longer on purpose in order to teach yourself that like optimisation is not always best. Your entire life is for living. It’s not necessarily for being the most productive robot possible…it’s not about tech detoxes or hiding your phone or even using those, you know, those apps on your computer that, like, shut off Facebook after a certain amount of time. [I]t’s more about being aware of what you were doing and choosing your choice about what you were doing, like being present and like, “OK, right now I am taking a walk, OK? Right now I’m scrolling Instagram. I’m choosing to scroll Instagram right now because it is something that is giving me pleasure. But when it stops I’m actually going to stop scrolling it too.” So just trying to be more deliberate about what you are doing and not just reverting to behaviours just because it’s there, because you’re tired, because you can’t think of anything else, because you feel like, “oh well, I could catch up with some work emails now.” I think a lot of us revert to just doing work when we don’t have the energy to think creatively about what could actually be nourishing to ourselves in a moment.
To hear more about how to fight burnout, we highly recommend listening to the entire episode.