A cure for burnout

Last updated on: Published by: Sarah Dobbs 0

I’m tired. You’re tired. We’re all tired, and we’ve been tired for months now.

Even before the pandemic, life sometimes felt like an unending slog, a constant treadmill of tasks that needed to be accomplished with no way of stepping off. We’ve got deadlines to meet, bills to pay, laundry to do. Somehow, even the supposedly relaxing stuff started to feel like a to-do list, as unread books and unwatched TV shows piled up endlessly. The restrictions of the last year or so have only made things feel worse, as we rattle around inside our homes, unable to see friends and family, all hope of holidays vanishing into the abyss. Exhausting, right?

It’s tempting to think that the answer to all this tiredness is to stop doing things. But I’ve got a radical suggestion that I think might work better: let’s do more.

Not more of the stuff we hate, to be clear. Instead, we need to find ways to do more of the things that light us up. What are you really good at? Is there something you love doing, but never quite find enough time to fit in? Maybe it’s writing, maybe it’s teaching, maybe it’s cooking, maybe it’s making art. Whatever it is, do more of it. Carve out space in your life to give yourself a new project – a secret one, if you have to. Because that’s the thing that’s going to make things seem manageable again.

A few years ago, I was working in a job I hated. I had a long commute, and miserable days, and I just wanted to lie on the floor and refuse to do it. At the end of a work day, I just wanted to go home and vegetate. But when I found something fun to do with my evenings, even if it meant staying out later and getting less sleep, I felt less exhausted.

It’s a control thing, I think. We’re not talking about revenge procrastination here, by the way. (That’s the thing where people stay up later, not really doing anything but watching TV or scrolling the internet, because they need to push back against the ennui of the wake-work-sleep cycle.) That’s unproductive, and feels bad, and ultimately doesn’t even let you wrest back any control. No, I’m suggesting you do more of the thing that excites you.

For me, lately, that’s been working with Leila on a new product we’re planning to launch as part of our general mission to put some magic back in the world. (Sign up to register your interest here). In the past, I’ve launched a magazine around my day job, or created podcasts on my weekends. Technically, it’s more “work”, and most of it has had to be done during what could otherwise just be downtime. But when you’re doing something that puts that fire in your belly, tiredness doesn’t come into it.

I think we’ve all probably got some reserves of energy left. It’s just that we’re too bored and stressed to access it when all we’ve got going on is the same old work, with the same old people, in the same old walls we’ve barely been allowed to leave for a year. That tedium sets in when we’ve got nothing fun to do, and so we fill our time with things that just make us feel miserable. Give yourself permission to do something different. Enthusiasm is fuel – joy is fuel. Do more of what you love.

Five minutes with… Jendrik Sigwart

Last updated on: Published by: Sarah Dobbs 0

How do you get to the Eurovision Song Contest?

Well, yes, “practice”, probably, but being insanely creative and resourceful with a talent for unignorable earworms doesn’t hurt, either. Jendrik Sigwart wasn’t a massively well-known musician before Germany’s search for their 2021 representative began. But he managed to get himself in front of the juries by writing an insanely catchy song, roping in all his friends and family to help him make a bold music video… and documenting the whole process on social media. His antics caught the attention of a casting agent from the German broadcaster, and the rest is history.

I Don’t Feel Hate” is an aggressively nice song that advocates for kindness even in the face of adversity. It’s a song that feels ready-made for TikTok, with a built-in tap dance break, and a sly pre-empting of criticism (“I really don’t care that you want to bash me/Do it with flair and I’ll let you be/But don’t you to get angry/When you realize those words just don’t hit me”). Haters not welcome, basically.

Europe didn’t immediately warm to the song (it was only awarded three points in the end, crucially three more than the UK’s song got) but Jendrik himself has attracted an army of fans all keen to see what he does next. Since he’s currently sitting at home in COVID-quarantine following his Eurovision adventures, we decided it was a good time to slide into his DMs for a chat…

You have such an amazing, positive, sunshiney attitude – how on Earth are you keeping that up with everything that’s been going on over the past year and a bit? Do you have any tips?

Oh, I don’t! I have my moments of self-doubt and sadness, like everyone else.

But I learned to think positive. Like, the human brain somehow always wants to see the negative, so I train myself to always see the positive too. For example, I once broke my arm, and while it was broken it hurt. I thought “Oh my God, why did I never appreciate my arm when it wasn’t hurting?” And as soon as it’s healed, we forget about that. So I try to remind myself on a regular basis “heyyyy, my arm is healed and doesn’t hurt right now!”

I try to see things in perspective. Like, I should be grateful for the things I do have and everything, you know what I mean?

Your Eurovision song “I Don’t Feel Hate” was all about not giving into negative impulses, and feeling sorry for haters rather than letting them get you down. That feels like a super important message, right now but also – always! How did you get to a place where you felt like that? Do you think it’s possible to get through to trolls, or even just, you know, people who are sad and lashing out on social?

Training training training! And it is possible to get through to them! When you start talking nicely to them, they realise that what they were saying was actually rude. Most of the times when I talked to the haters they later apologised.

You’ve been documenting your entire Eurovision journey on social media. What’s the response been like? Do you look back at the early ones now, or do you think you’ll do that in the future, to have a record of what you were doing and feeling?

I have not watched any of the old ones yet. I am not sure when I will do that. But I think it is what I said it is – “a diary” – and one day I’ll watch them and I’ll have all the feelings back that I had in that moment.

What does creativity mean to you right now? How do you find inspiration, even when things might feel bleak?

Creativity is sometimes hard to find. For me, it comes in waves. Right now I can feel a next wave coming, because the more I am productive, the more I get creative. So being in quarantine for two weeks was a very uncreative time, as I did nothing. But now that it’s over, I can feel my motivation and creativity coming back.

And what’s next for you? Do you have new goals, now you’ve done Eurovision?

Haha yes I do have a few new goals! Actually three:

  • One: Show more from my music.
  • Two: Play in a series or a movie.
  • Three: Get a sixpack. One day.

I want to record a few of my songs next, but also would love to stand on the theatre stage again. We will see.

Keep an eye on this blog for more chats with the people who inspire us!