As the summer rolls in and things begin to slow down in the office, it’s easy to start feeling burnt out – especially since, as fulltime workers, the break that summer once promised us as students is now gone. Without the time off to reset that we once had, it is common to become overwhelmed by a never-ending workload. This can result in a decreased interest in your tasks, which affects the quality of your work as well as your overall productivity – all characteristics of burnout.
Burnout is the result of unmanaged work-related stress. It is a state of exhaustion so overwhelming that it creates a feeling of reduced accomplishment, often accompanied by a lack of fulfilment. Burnout has negative mental and physical effects. It can result in fatigue, insomnia, sadness, and cynicism.
While that sounds grim, it does not have to be. There are plenty of methods you can try out to manage stress and avoid a “summer spiral out.” Many people meditate, exercise, or go on vacation. While this works for some, it isn’t necessarily effective, or even accessible, for everyone. Rather than pretending to like spin class or desperately trying to achieve nirvana, you can learn more about yourself and explore your interests through passion projects.
Passion projects are activities or projects that you participate in because you enjoy and have a deep interest in them. For example, someone who likes to read and daydreams often might enjoy writing a short story. Unfortunately to many, it can seem like there is not enough time in the day to explore new hobbies and old passions without putting your performance at work at risk. However, depriving yourself of these hobbies and passions makes you more prone to burnout.
There are ways to combat chronic work stress and burnout. You can take time off, practice mindfulness, or find time for fun. A hobby or a passion project is fun, and more importantly, it’s not a job. It is very important to remember that distinction when trying something new. Unlike a job you aren’t confined to a strict schedule; you get to choose when to practice your hobby – and if it ever starts to feel like work, or if it becomes a source of stress, there are no life-altering consequences if you quit. No stakes or repercussions is one of the things that makes hobbies so fun.
As full-time workers, the term “free time” can be laughable. How can you start a hobby when you barely have time for yourself? If you have a long commute, instead of gloomily looking out the window or scrolling through social media, try a portable hobby. Want a mental challenge? Try following along a murder mystery podcast, pick up reading, or try travel friendly puzzles like Sudoku or a Rubik’s Cube. Interested in exploring your creative side? Keep a sketch book in your bag for doodles and creative writing.
If you don’t have a long commute, you work from home, or you drive and cannot use the time for a hobby, utilize the time you have after work. Your passion project, or hobby, does not have to be a huge commitment, you can dedicate as little as 10 minutes to stress free fun and it will have a big impact on your mood. Your hobby can be educational, like learning a new language, or something more relaxing, like an adult coloring book. While some may suggest practicing your hobby during your lunch break, keeping your hobby strictly separate is important in ensuring that your hobby is not correlated with work.
How do you remain productive while exploring hobbies and passions? It’s easier than you may think! Since you are experiencing fun more frequently, and not just working, you will naturally become happier. This happiness does not only make you enjoy life more, but you also become better at your job! Productivity does not normally take a hit when you have fun, just make sure your hobby time does not seep into the workday, or you could become distracted. With your newfound knowledge – and hopefully excitement to try new things – go learn a new hobby and enjoy the summer!
Teresa Fanzo, Marketing Associate