Finding the momentum to fight burnout
Some big “ends” are rapidly approaching, which means new beginnings as well. My last quarter at Columbia Basin College just began, which is exciting and terrifying because it means beginning the next part of my journey. The legislative session is quickly ending and the prep work begins for the next legislative session shortly after that. Life is a series of closing chapters and opening new ones, full of so much accomplishment and leaps of faith. But it also can mean burnout. I think that’s one aspect of life that isn’t discussed as often as it should be. No matter how much enjoyment one may get out of their life, they may still encounter the symptoms of burnout.
One way that I have found to be helpful to keep moving forward is by setting goals and getting excited about what’s to come. My fellow interns and I have the opportunity to participate in some work groups focused on equity issues in the community and technical college system. As some of my goals in since day one of this internship have been to further develop my understanding of equity and work to make the community and technical college system more equitable for all, this is truly a cool opportunity. Looking forward to what’s next in my journey is a huge part of what keeps me going.
However, big transitional periods — when you’re eager to see where life takes you next or when you’re a bit nervous about the familiarity of the current chapter ending —can increase the risk of burnout. It’s especially hard during winter and flu season when everyone is already feeling sluggish. Everyone can struggle with burnout, and it’s good to be prepared. For anyone else who is beginning to feel the signs of burnout starting to creep up on them, I wanted to share what has helped me.
Journaling and reflection have been a major tool for helping me stay focused and avoid burnout. Whether it be as simple as jotting down three things I am grateful for each day or as complex as reflecting on what accomplishments I have been proud of recently, I think it is crucial for people to actively recognize their joys and successes. For example, I am proud of the work I have been doing in my classes and the change I have been helping to create through this internship. On top of that, I am grateful for the connections and friendships I have cultivated along the way.
Developing a routine for yourself that replaces some of the habits that can make burnout worse are also important. Unwinding before bed with a book or some music is important because restful sleep is key to combating burnout. No matter how busy life gets, it’s important to fuel your body to keep going. Practicing mindfulness, eating well, and drinking water are key. As we all continue to find the momentum to progress forward and begin new endeavors, I hope that we can all remember that no human being is perfect and it’s good to take breaks when necessary.