Hobby: Dealing With “Hobby Burnout”

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We’ve all been there – But what exactly is Hobby Burnout and how can you deal with it?

Burnout is defined as “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” It can occur when a person feels overwhelmed, drained emotionally and comes with an inability to reach those constant demands. If you’ve never experienced it in your life, you should consider yourself lucky – but be warned there probably will be a time in your life when you wish you could just take a step back and relax. When you’ve hit that point – that’s Burnout.

ewok on fireEven Ewoks feel the Burn…

The funny thing is, if you’re experiencing burnout one of the top recommendations you’ll hear is “take-up a hobby” and yes that can help, but what if you’re “Burned Out” from your hobby? Well then you maybe experiencing “Hobby Burnout.” I want to make one thing clear: “Burnout” is not “Stressed Out.” If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you’ve got to much to do – that’s Stressed Out. If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you just can’t bring yourself to care – that’s Burnout.

The first step in fixing this issue is recognizing what you’re experiencing. So I’ve got a simple test. Ask yourself the following:

  • Are you experiencing a lack of interest in your Hobby?
  • Does participating in your hobby feel like a waste of time?
  • Does the thought of picking up your hobby make you feel exhausted, overwhelmed or detached?
  • Has your Hobby started to feel like a job (and not in a good way)?

If you said yes to any of those questions (or all of them) – I’m sorry. You’re probably experiencing Hobby Burnout or you’re about to. If you’re a gamer your Hobby can feel like you’re safe zone and there is a danger that you could experience a case of double Burnout – that’s when you’re feeling Burned with your hobbies & your career – if you are feeling the double burn, you may want to think about seeking some professional help.

light-at-the-end-of-a-tunnelDon’t worry, that light isn’t a freight-train coming your way!

The good news is there is actually hope at the end of this tunnel so don’t give up. Recovering from Burnout (and Hobby Burnout) is very possible. So what can you do?

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Talk to your Gaming Circle – The first thing you can do to help stop Burnout is to talk to your friends and peers that you are gaming with. Let them know, “Hey, I’m starting to feel a bit (or a lot) of Burnout from our hobby.” Sometimes just getting that out in the open can help the road to recovery. Having a grown-up conversation with your group might also uncover other people that might be heading down the same road – air it out and give them a chance to listen and respond. I wouldn’t expect them to have all the answers or to “fix” your Burnout but at least you’ll know you’re not alone!

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Take a literal walk – I know no one wants to hear this one, but sometimes you just need to go take a walk and get some exercise. Getting any kind of healthy physical activity (walking, running, biking, lifting weights, hot yoga – whatever) really does help. Personally, when I’m starting feeling Burnout creeping in and I recognize it, I will add in a 20-40 minute walk in the morning before I get my day started and it works wonders. It gives me some time to be “alone” and away from work & my hobby. I might listen to some music on my phone but I try to stay as “unplugged” as I can. No screens or distractions – it’s a great way to clear your head. If you’re not an outdoor walker, try a treadmill – but avoid the television screens.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by TERRY O'NEILL/REX USA (90797a) ROLLING STONES VARIOUSCredit: Photo by TERRY O’NEILL/REX USA (90797a) ROLLING STONES VARIOUS

Examine the way you’re approaching your Hobby – If your hobby has become unfulfilling it might be because you’re trying to find satisfaction in something that can’t provide it. It’s like The Rolling Stones said, “I can’t get no satisfaction ‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try…” Well I have news for you, Hobbies should be things you enjoy on the side – not your life’s purpose. Now, I’m not saying that Hobbies aren’t important or that they can’t be fulfilling because they can be. What I am saying is you can’t ignore the other aspects of your life in lieu of escaping into your hobbies all the time. I’m guilty of this one myself! Find that Work-Life-Hobby balance before you tip the scale too far in one direction at the expense of everything else.

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Try a different Hobby – This one seems like a no-brainer but I thought I’d include it. Sometimes you get Burned Out simply because you’re pushing to hard at your hobby or even one aspect of your hobby. For example, if you’re really feeling the burn towards 40k, maybe try an RPG. A change of pace will do wonders and help give you a different perspective. “But my friends only want to play [insert game here] all the time.” Have you asked them? Have you invited them to try a different game – heck, even a random board game is a nice change of pace from a full tabletop game. There are also tons of meet-ups other events to give a try –  a quick google search for “gaming meet-up [insert your city]” might just surprise you. Warning: you will probably have to meet new people and try new things.

Silhouette of a woman doing yoga on the beach at sunset

Unplug and Unwind… differently – I know a lot of gamers & hobbyist use their hobby to unwind after a stressful day at work. That’s perfectly natural to want to do that but when you’re feeling Burnout toward your hobby that’s the problem – you can’t unwind “normally” – so what can you do? You’ve got to unwind differently and I don’t mean just take up a different hobby. You can try relaxation techniques, mediation, deep breathing…there is a long list of health things you can do to unwind. I know you might scoff at mediation or yoga or deep breathing, but there is a reason people do those things: they work.

Fight Club Sleep

Get some REST! – feeling physically tired can make you do strange things. Maybe it’s a bad habit you picked up, maybe you were trying to finish-up that one last thing for your army, or maybe you’re just hopped-up on caffeine because you were trying to get over that tired feeling you’ve had all day…not that I’ve done all those things (I have) but the real cure for that is just getting some rest. If your hobby is causing you to pull late or all-nighters that’s not healthy. You need to establish some solid boundaries between you and your hobby time. Again, your hobby should be fun, enjoyable and relaxing – it shouldn’t cause you to stay up till 4am every night and make you miserable at work the next day. If it is, you’re letting your hobby control you and that’s not healthy.

I have experienced Burnout myself and can attest that it’s a real thing. I used all of these things I listed out and it really does help. If you’re feeling Burnout (hobby or otherwise) talk to someone about it – that’s the BIGGEST thing you can do to stop that downward spiral. Happy Hobbying out there!

 

The Burnout is real! Have you experienced Burnout and how did you deal with it?

  • Philip Joe Shearrer Jr.

    … or realize that even a great hobby is not enough to anesthetize us against our longing for meaningful worthwhile lives.

    • Richard Mitchell

      That true. Depending on your stage in life, you may need to use your hobby as a vehicle to contribute to the world around you. Bring more worth to living.

    • Sure

      While I will pick up 40K and put it back down again, I can’t say the same for friends that I’ve made b/c of it. I’m just coming off a years-long break. Do different things. Have physical and crafty hobbies. Travel. Enjoy the frak out of life.

  • Mike Tbone Green

    ive been in burn out mode for years. it take alot for me to even paint one model.

    • euansmith

      I’ve been painting one mini per month, due to the kind assistance of Commissar Molotov over on Ammobunker. He’s running a painting challenge with a new subject each month. As a result of doing the challenges, I’ve managed a few, brief spurts to paint up some groups of minis; but I find it a real struggle. All the best with regaining your mojo.

    • John Grammaticus

      I didn’t paint anything for years but I’ve got back into it in the last 2 years watching Way of The Brush and other YouTube channels, sending in pics of my work and sharing with everyone gives a great incentive. Also found when buying new box sets to set a date to have them painted so we could play them at our group so there was a deadline to work to

  • Grasshopper

    I could not have expected such good down-to-earth advice from a wargaming website. Burnout IS a problem that can touch every aspect of ones life. It’s best not to forestall and ignore emotional problems for too long. Talk to people (family, friends, gaming buddies) and don’t shy away from seeking professional help. Just talk to your doctor if you are unsure. Thanks for the short but thougtful article.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    great advice, nice article, thanks.

  • James DeGrey

    good advise, my problem is that I try to do too much stuff at once
    ; trolls to paint for the journeyman league, Halflings to paint for Arcworlde, painting / building for whatever we are playing this Friday, Playtesting, Rules Writing, terrain for the club, terrain for my house….
    So when I end up stressed and burned out at work all I have to come home to is hobby stress and I cant be bothered. My advice is to stop all but one project and give that some proper attention. Also a few games of things like Hero Quest or Zombiecide every now and again can really be a fun way to take a break but still get your weekly gaming fix!

  • Carlos Fontecha

    Great article! I was feeling ‘weird’ towards my hobby, but this describes it perfectly! Very helpful!

  • Martin Barrow

    I find cutting the projects helps. I have been burnt out for well over a year, sold my Xwing, sold my Armada, sold my sold all my 40k, put my Infinity gaming on hold for while and just started a single AoS force.. just something to focus without the clutter. Gives me time to do other things without the guilt of having spent so much or having so much to do. Has worked for me just having a single goal.

  • Simon Steffensen

    METALLICA! m/

  • Satyan Patel

    I was feeling this towards 40k. So much stuff churned out with books and codex’s included. So I have too a step back, read more 40k novels and cycle more often and have been thinking of Both Action.