Doretta Lau on Work, Burnout, and Recovery
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Back when I worked at a museum, one of my colleagues said to another colleague who was on the verge of burnout, “Your job will never love you back.” I said, “That’s so true!”
No matter how much loving attention you devote to it, your job is not a person. It cannot have empathy or compassion. Your job will not look out for your best interests. Only you can do that for yourself. So are you going to put your job first or your health and sanity first?
If you don’t know where to start, I have a couple of suggestions if you work in an office. Try one thing at a time and be gentle with yourself if you are finding it hard to implement these changes. I want you to have less stress, not more.
- Do not check work e-mails outside of office hours.
- Always eat lunch away from your desk.
- If you find yourself complaining, ask yourself why. Is it something in your control? If so, what can you do about it?
- Show up and leave on time.
- Do the hard work in the morning and schedule meetings for the afternoon.
If it is not possible to do these things, you may want to consider changing your work environment either by finding a new job or having a conversation with your supervisor about making healthy changes.
For those of you who are in full burnout mode, consider taking stress leave. You are not letting your office down if you choose to take care of yourself. In the long run, if you’re healthy you can contribute a lot more than if you’re sick. Not that productivity defines you! You are more than your productivity.
Show up for yourself with the same amount of dedication that you show up for your job. It’s life changing, I promise.
I just saw a fantastic film about work and late stage capitalism, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You. I can’t stop thinking about this movie; it is funny and strange and terrifying and wonderful. The cast alone should get you out to the theatre: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, Patton Oswalt, and David Cross. Check it out!