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Dec 04 2013

Avoiding Burnout

Greta Christina has given her talk on avoiding activist burnout many times in many places, but it’s often the short version. I heard the longer version at Skepticon for the first time.

I like this version better. Or maybe I just needed it more.

I came home from Skepticon exhausted. I don’t know how much of that was because my husband’s employer has been incredibly slow to get us signed up for health insurance through them after I left my job. I let my vitamin D prescription lapse because it wasn’t covered. I won’t be doing that again before spring, when I can get the stuff just by sitting outside.

That’s probably not all of it, though. I have been burning out, dreading working on even things I’m passionate about, getting very little satisfaction out of accomplishments. I’ve put too much into projects, groups, people that require me to shout the house down (in precise, polite language, of course) when I need something in return. That doesn’t work for me. Once I’m less exhausted, and less grumpy about the cause of the exhaustion, I’ll be making sure I give those a fair look before cutting them off. In the meantime, I simply haven’t done much that requires me to be public and energetic and giving. There just hasn’t been anything there.

That’s not to say I’ve done nothing with the last three weeks. I’ve helped polish off one harassment policy project and properly started another that’s been on hold. I’ve done some of the bare minimum toward fall house cleaning and hosted a major holiday. I’ve beta-read a book and given feedback. I’ve prepped for two radio interviews this month. I’ve helped push two big Minnesota Atheist projects forward. I’ve researched proposals and agents for nonfiction books, and sadly discovered that my former agent is no longer representing writers. And I’ve tried not to become a complete hermit while doing it all.

This may be why I’m still pretty tired.

I am relaxing too, sleeping plenty and playing games, but it’s not feeling altogether restful. I’m not coming away refreshed. As I said in another context recently, with all these things having the impact they do on my day-to-day life, I’m not sure what a vacation that felt like a vacation would look like these days. But I’ll work on that. Long conversations with a couple good friends I don’t talk to enough have helped. So maybe more of that.

Whatever the right mix is*, I’ll figure it out eventually. Maybe something will pop out watching the talk a couple more times.

*I do know that giving up alcohol, as the harassers so “helpfully” suggested as I live-tweeted the parts of Greta’s talk that mentioned alcohol–and caffeine–use,  isn’t in there. As the child of an alcoholic, I’ve never been a big drinker. I’ve monitored my use closely all my adult life. Hell, I have trouble not monitoring everyone else’s. Their “concern” is just one more attempt to make libel function in the place of arguments.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    hjhornbeck

    If there’s anything that’s helped me, it’s being an intellectual slut.

    I got wondering the other day: if I told you the height of a person, how accurately could you guess their sex? Some searches came up dry, so I started drafting my own solution. After wrangling over the calculations, I wrote a quick program to do a basic integration of a complex formula, and got my answer. I then challenged myself to break out of the two-sex model, and after some more mental gymnastics and tweaking got an answer: 89% accuracy, at best.

    My work computer is cluttered with work-themed side-projects, in various stages of completion. I used to be a pretty good photographer, then ditched the hobby it when I got bored. I’ve got research for lectures on my plate, some nifty ideas for an upcoming debate, a recording barn that’s half-completed, some 3D printing designs to draft up… whenever some hobby or task is getting me down, I switch to another until the desire comes back, or ditch it if the desire never does. If I spot a shiny problem during my wanderings, I jump in with two feet.

    It’s help sustain me. Dunno if it’ll help you, but hey.

  2. 2
    Axxyaan

    You probably already know this, but I’ll remind you any way, because often enough even people who know, don’t act like it. Your first responsibility is to take care of yourself. All these other people and causes you would like to help or who appeal to you for help, need you to be in good shape for you to help them efficiently.

    I can’t help with how you do that but it does seem you need to shift your focus to first helping yourself before you help others.

  3. 3
    smhll

    I’m tempted to say there’s a special place in heaven for beta-readers, but Oops!

    OK, there’s a special place in my heart for beta-readers.

    I recommend fluids, laughter and rest as a decent way to feel more rested.

  4. 4
    One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login

    I let my vitamin D prescription lapse because it wasn’t covered.

    Wut? D is an OTC supplement and one of the cheapest (probably the greatest price/performer on any shelf in the store). Did you have a special preparation of it or something?

  5. 5
    Stephanie Zvan

    I forget what the units are on vitamins, but my prescription is for 50,000 [units] twice a week. OTC vitamin D goes up to about 2,000 [units] per pill. OTC would actually be more expensive to get the dosage I need.

    I spent a summer inside and don’t drink milk. My blood test results came back shockingly low.

  6. 6
    Great American Satan

    My dude has AIDS patient range VitD, and one a day of the OTC = 7000 IU/week, which is only 3000 less than the prescription level he was on before that ran out. We can’t even tell if it’s doing anything, honestly, but we do it anyway. That number was freaky low.

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