Graphic by Nate Barton
When it comes to mid-semester burnout, 70s singer-songwriter Jackson Browne said it best: “Running on empty, running blind, running into the sun, but I’m running behind,” his chorus of soul singers croon.
For the past two weeks, it’s been particularly difficult for me to do the things I love with joy. Classes have mostly become burdensome with work instead of provoking my mind. My extracurricular activities have been places of pressure: the pressure to be present, the pressure to be positive, the pressure to be prompt and prepared at all times and the pressure to at least pretend like I got an adequate amount of sleep the night before.
I’ve been running on empty for quite a while now. I’ve been running until I’ve started burning rubber. For me, burning rubber means I’m crying actual tears because of something totally incoherent I just said. The last time that happened I was babbling about the idea of a “meme-ocracy.” I won’t even try to explain that one.
However, friends and mentors have encouraged me to seek rest: to go to sleep when I start babbling, to set aside 10 minutes to clear my mind and seek God, to not feel bad when I skip class because I’m sick.
I’ve realized that when burnout happens, we need to look for our metaphorical gas stations. Metaphorical gas stations are activities where we can dive into our world and be mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually filled up.
Personally, painting and biblical verse reflection are two of my favorite gas stations. On Sunday nights, I like to set aside time to paint a picture and include a verse for the week on it. As I do it, I reflect on the verse and concentrate on my brushstrokes—and nothing else. When I’m done, I hang it up at my desk so I can see it everyday.
Little things like that are good reminders that there’s more to life than schoolwork and jobs. We should do our best to do things well, but when we can’t find a reason to keep moving forward, we need to take time to reflect and replenish.
Follow Kelly Rodriguez on Twitter: @KRodrigNews