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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?