What Camping and COVID Taught Me About Burnout
At Double Forte, we are big believers in the value of a vacation. But with Covid-19 raging outside, there are very few places to go and things to do this year. So as the summer of 2020 approached, we at Double Forte started wondering: how can we get the R&R we know makes us better employees, counselors, and people?
When multiple articles started surfacing about how this was going to be the summer of road trips and camping, I knew I had to face the uncomfortable certainty that I would find myself— child in tow— in a tent this summer. I reluctantly packed and hoped for the best. Here are three things I learned during the summer of COVID-19 when I was forced to camp.
Burnout is Real
Let’s talk about burnout. It’s a real thing. According to a CNBC article: “Tech employees are delaying vacations because of coronavirus, so employers are forcing them to take time off to avoid burnout.” Earlier in the pandemic, Double Forte’s Founder & CEO, Lee Caraher, made a decision to have every employee take four days off, either the week before or the week after the 4th of July holiday. My first reaction was, “OK, but I don’t need to do this.” Turns out I did. (This isn’t the first time Lee has talked about the importance of vacation.)
You know that mental state you get in where you experience less creativity, feel less capable, and are exhausted all the time? That’s burnout, and it doesn’t help you personally, or your company professionally. The thing about burnout is that it is a lot like depression: when it is happening to you, you don’t always realize it. Therefore, it’s important to learn the signs and reflect—relax—recharge, pronto.
Perspective is Everything
Once I was forced to go on vacation (thanks, Lee!) our family ended up taking a long weekend camping trip to the Mendocino Coast. What gets a city girl to like camping? A pandemic. When most of your freedoms are stripped away, even a nice day in your backyard sounds like a winner.
As we drove past the redwoods down the last stretch of windy road, I felt my heartbeat slow and a sense of calm return. Once there I realized that this was the first time I had heard the breeze move between the trees or saw a sunset in over a year. This campsite was particularly awesome because just directly across the street was a beach cove. I put my toes in the sand and felt a warmth on my face. It was tears. I was shocked by my reaction at first, but then I realized that I thought that I might not feel this sensation for months, or possibly longer. How could I get so emotional about sand?
It turns out that this pandemic is forcing many of us to look deeply not only at our everyday lives but also at our values. Vox writes: “Quarantine has changed us— and it’s not all bad.” Some of these things include reducing consumerism, slowing down and putting less pressure on ourselves, and spending more time in nature. Perspective is everything.
It’s Not All About You
Sometimes, it’s just not about you. Now with more people living and working under the same roof all day long, the needs of others become more apparent. In my case, it wasn’t just me who needed time off; my husband and daughter needed a change of scenery too. So we pitched that tent and here’s another lesson I learned: even with the lack of sleep (a toddler constantly hitting me in the face at night) and the semi-constant fear that the pandemic was still around us as campers passed nearby, we forgot about the doom of the world for a while. We felt normal.
Turns out you have to slow down to get to the root of what matters. So take that time off work. Your mind, body (and clients) will thank you for it.