I suspect you’ve heard of burnout, and you may have even experienced it. I know I have.
It happens when you don’t take enough breaks and/or you push yourself too hard. It is quite hard to describe the feeling, but I think I would describe it as a lack of feeling. You don’t feel anything about what once made you feel excited, you don’t feel motivated to do anything, you feel that you just can’t be bothered to start anything new or learn. Physical symptoms may include a headache, tiredness and dry eyes. It can also manifest its way into other symptoms and affect other parts of your life.
A pretty grim picture.
It can, however, be avoided.
Ensuring that you pace yourself with your learning, take regular breaks from your work - essentially everything we just talked about in the paragraph above. No one is ‘immune’ from experiencing burnout, and although it is not an actual disease or illness, it certainly is a real feeling that is particularly prevalent in the tech community, whether you’re a newbie or whether you’ve been working in tech for 400 years!
As we said earlier, in order for your brain to absorb information, you need to give it time off, including sleep, in order for it to order and file all of the information you’ve consumed.
It isn’t just working too hard that could cause this…
I learned about decision fatigue quite recently. It is possible that you’ve heard of it before, but don’t really know what it is. Or maybe you do. Either way, I’m going to talk about it.
During our life, our days, our hours, minutes, even seconds, our brains are processing thousands, if not millions, of decisions. This can range from ‘what shall I wear today?’ to ‘shall I get out a loan to buy this car?’. Clearly the effect of some of these decisions are more drastic than others!
Decisions are constant, and in today's world we are constantly bombarded with the pressure to make decisions (Think advertisements and social media). Your brain is under constant pressure to make one decision or another - you should buy the latest phone, the latest clothes, the latest monitor, the latest everything, just to try and keep up. We are pressured in many ways that we don’t realise. People choose to portray themselves in a certain way on social media and this means that you feel that you have to ‘be like them’.
This constant pressure to make decisions and the bombardment of ‘ideals’ puts strain on our minds.
The trouble is that we quite like it. It causes a rush of dopamine because we feel that we are pleasing someone, either by wanting to be like them, or by making a decision that makes them happy. This is a problem, because your mind starts to tell you that you need to seek out these decisions to feel good. In the vast majority of cases, people act in a way that they think will make others like them.
It is innate - a desire that we are born with. Babies copy to learn. Children copy to learn, and act in ways to make you happy.
There are, of course, exceptions to this, and people’s personalities can differ wildly. Generally though, people want to make others happy, and sometimes even to their own detriment - burnout.
Make sure that you check in with yourself often. How do you feel, when did you last take a break?