Dealing with Mental Burn Out

Between Nanowrimo, high school, and my internship with Musa publishing, I entered December of last year–it still feels weird saying that–exhausted and burnt. I managed to get sick twice in the first three weeks of December, and you might think it’s bad luck, but I really believe that the physical sickness was caused by my mental exhaustion. It was my body’s way of forcing me to take a break, since Christmas break didn’t start for me until the 23rd this year.

To be honest, I kind of expected to burn out after November. A lot of Nanoers do. However, I didn’t expect it to be the brutal burn out it was. I found myself hating every minute spent travelling or at school, despite the fact that I really do love my school. Mentally exhausted, I wanted nothing more than to curl up into a ball and sleep for a week or maybe in a month. The holiday cheer all around me didn’t help lift my spirits much either.

Unfortunately, while preparing an article and an interview for the January issue of Penumbra and trying to find like minded people to spread the word about Penumbra’s existence, I didn’t have time to take that week break. I kept slogging through my work before the Christmas break. I kept myself sane with a combination of my weekly TV show–I recently suffered an obsession with the show American Horror Story–lots of cuddles with my cats, and a promise to myself that I would get ahead on blogging and my personal writing during the break so January wouldn’t be as traumatic.

Now we’re at the other end of that much needed vacation and I feel a lot better. There are a couple historical articles I wanted to write that I never got around to, but I’ve spent lots of time with my friends and my boyfriend, and I’ve gotten a lot of personal writing done. Over the last two weeks my focus has been on my personal writing and my social life. I’ve gone out to see people I haven’t seen in months, I’ve written an awesome short-ish story, I’ve written a couple of blog posts and set up a couple interviews. I even printed out the manuscript for Moonshadow’s Guardian so that I can read through it and start edits.

There are a lot of other things I kind of wanted to do too that I never got around to. I wanted to spend more time working on the Penumbra blog. I wanted to write historical articles for Musa’s Aurora Regency imprint blog. I wanted to write a couple non-fiction articles. I wanted to spend more time researching blogs which might help me on my quest to get Penumbra out there. But I didn’t.

The reason why I didn’t do any of those things, instead only writing up a post to announce the new issue of Penumbra(the January issue is out and can be bought here) and working on this blog and a short story, isn’t because I couldn’t have done any of those things. I probably could’ve done all of those things if I’d worked at it hard enough.

I didn’t do any of those things because I needed time to relax. I needed to go out and see some friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. I needed to go out dancing. I needed to spend some quality time with my boyfriend. I needed to watch some anime, to immerse myself in someone else’s story. My boyfriend got me a Kindle for Christmas and I’ve spent a lot of the last two weeks in other people’s worlds. It’s awesome, and the best thing about everything I’ve read over the break is that it isn’t for school.

There are only two weeks after Christmas break before the semester ends this year, and while that leaves me with a lot to do, after the break I feel like I can do it. I’ve finished the story I spent the break working on and I’ve got notes for the next draft of Moonshadow’s Guardian. My brain, instead of being exhausted, is going a mile a minute, totally refreshed. My own personal writing will have to take a back burner over the next couple of weeks as I scramble to write essays and complete assignments, but I have a plan of attack for when I’m ready to start editing Moonshadow’s Guardian again and a couple of prompts to keep me writing a little bit.

Not very many people can just take two weeks away from their day job when they’re feeling burnt, but you can still make the most of every moment you have off. Spend your next weekend having a marathon of movies you really love. Go out and see a friend you haven’t seen in a while after work. We don’t always need time off to make ourselves feel better, but when we’re mentally exhausted, we need to see the people and do the things that make us happy.

What do you do when you’re mentally burnt out?

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About Dianna Gunn

I am a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. My first YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, is available now through The Book Smugglers Publishing.

Posted on January 9, 2012, in Inspirational, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You are totally right, Dianna! If we don’t take ANY time for ourselves, you can pretty much imagine what’s going to happen. We’ll burn out eventually because we haven’t had physical or mental down time. I ride my bike almost every day and ride my horse on the other days and both of those give me the “breaks” I need both mentally and physically. In the end, I know it helps me have the right mental state for writing and blogging and doing the things I have to do for THAT part of my life.
    Good luck with your work and your writing and your personal commitments.
    Patti

  2. Patti,

    I wish I had a horse!

    I live in the suburbs of Toronto and I go to school downtown, so I spend a lot of time on the train. Some days, that’s my only real time to myself between projects, my internship, and school.

    My boyfriend got me a kindle for Christmas and not only am I reading an awesome Musa book right now, but I’m trying to use it to kick start me into reading for myself more. A lot of what I do for Musa is reading, and I spend a couple of hours every day reading email and blog posts, but I found that over the last couple of months, I wasn’t doing any reading for me. The kindle, while I still plan to read lots of paper books, is just a good thing to kick start my reading for the new year.

    Thanks for stopping by,
    ~Dianna

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