On Burnout and Peace - Skillful Cook
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On Burnout and Peace

Mountain view covered in text.

This image from Pocket Fuel basically sums it up.

In the last few weeks, I've had quite a few readers ask for advice on how to overcome discouragement and burnout as a blogger.

It must be the season for that because throughout the last few weeks of 2013, I myself have been working through that thing called burnout. Specifically food blogger burnout, teacher of struggling students burnout, and cleaning my new old house burnout. Cleaning. BLEH.

I recently read a post by an entrepreneur friend about this very topic, and after I read it I just felt better. There is something really comforting about knowing you're not the only one. So if you're feeling tired and burned out, take heart. Cause we're all in this together.


Me? Ok, let's back up a few weeks, to before I started sleeping in during the longest winter break ever. Before that goodness.

I was staying up too late.

I was getting up too early.

My expectations for myself were really ambitious, and frankly, way. too. high. Because one single person cannot possibly manage a teaching job while publishing three weekly recipe posts, responding to all emails, being an expert at all social media, improving their photography, working with a sponsorship team, creating a new product... AND staying physically active, being well-rested, investing in important relationships, and generally feeling happy all at once. Not. Possible.

Then Christmas happened. Planning did not. Our sweet, romantic evening of Christmas tree decorating got pushed back at least 73 times and eventually became a time to embark on house fixing projects. Hm, fun. There was present buying happening on Christmas Eve and last minute wrapping that happened just in time to hand the presents to their recipients. As a person who likes to think she has her ducks in a very straight row, that was yucky yuck.

Christmas Tree.

Then came the real punch: the worst head cold I've had in years came and kicked me in the face. The lack of sleep, the working all the time, the skipped workouts, the never ending quest for “balance” (yeah, right)... it just caught up with me in the form of physical sickness and pure exhaustion. A horrible side effect of being sick was that my appetite basically disappeared. One night I literally stood in the kitchen, looking in every cupboard, thinking through anything I could make that sounded remotely good enough to blog about. The result was the pomegranate shrimp dish from that fail post. Ugh, gag. I needed a break. And a nap. And a bowl of Annie's white cheddar macaroni and cheese followed by a Salty Dog chocolate bar.

The cold ended up turning into a sinus infection that knocked me down and out for a week leading right up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And when I say knocked me down and out, I mean I was completely worthless to do anything and felt 99% miserable 99% of the time.

I'm not dramatic, though.

Sweet, Sweet Peace.

I am determined to change this year.

For the first 9 days of this fresh new chapter, I've been prioritizing this strange and wonderful thing called resting. After a nice long journey together, my sinus infection and I parted ways and I no longer risk coughing up both lungs when 9pm hits. I feel rested. I'm eating better. Things in my heart and mind are a little lighter. I have enough energy to try doing things like yoga pilates fusion. Once. Because, wow. That's hard.

Fresh Kale in a blue bowl.

In 2014, it's time for peace and rest every day, all the time, in every season.

  • sleeping
  • reading books
  • learning from podcasts —> I challenge you to listen to this, particularly #8, #9, and #10, and not be changed for the better
  • going to church, bonus if we make it on time
  • exercising
  • drinking water
  • dating Bjork
  • cooking and baking, not necessarily for the blog or a project but just for the pure enjoyment! I mean, gosh. Imagine that.

People ice skating.

You, Too. Right?

If you are a blogger or entrepreneur, you know the pressure of being your own boss. You WANT to work all the time. And if you're not an entrepreneur, same goes. You get it. Sometimes life just ... yeesh. It's a lot.

We all have down swings, whether you feel like quitting or you don't have enough energy to do everything that you want to do or you have a nasty cold and are just plain old tired. So to answer the question that I set out to answer at the beginning - how do we get past burnout and discouragement and lack of inspiration - my answer, based on personal experience, is let's take that seriously and bring rest and peace in before the downward spiral sucks the quality out of our work and our lives.

And take it seriously means chill out. For real. Slow down, stop working for a while, and come back in a few weeks and tell me if you find that a) your inspiration back, b) your work quality goes up a jillion percent, and c) you're nicer to be around. Cause that's what I'm thinking is going to happen.

Sunset view over the lake.

I recently read this great article on why being busy isn't respectable anymore. It deserves a read. Take it to heart, fellow over-committers and people who want to do everything and be busy all the time (ahem, self). This is really really good stuff.

I also recently read this great article on divorcing your phone. For my peeps who understand the love/hate phone addiction thing.

We have a framed print from Sacred Made in our bedroom that says Peace: Heavenly Rest. Beautiful prints that inspire - check them out.

One last thing - while writing this post I jumped on Facebook and low and behold, found myself distractedly clicking on links within two seconds. Preeedictable. But this is for people who like list articles: 37 things you'll regret when you're old.

Hey you out there? Take care of yourself. Go on a 15 minute walk around the block, watch a movie with your kids, cook dinner with your sweet, play outside with your fur baby, or just buy a nice big hot tub and soak in it for the rest of the year. And then go to Trader Joe's and buy their salted dark chocolate almonds.


He means it, too.

Dog under blankets.

Filed Under: Life

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks Lindsay for this post, I really needed it.
    At times I feel this over achieving culture we’ve got ourselves wrapped up in, is surely to the detriment of easing off the pressure and having a bit of fun and relax.
    We all need to step back for a sec, take a deep breath, and remember to take it easy on ourselves.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    im so glad you are done with sinus because I deal with it everyday and its just frustrating esp in the night.. im always on the go as well and can relate to never wanting to stop. thanks for the reminder that its okay and we need to take a step back and eat salted dark chocolate almonds, that cures every misery in the world 🙂

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay, this post is a beautiful post! I find I fall victim to always wanting to work, not sleeping, ignoring my hubby (love your point about dating Bjork!) and everything else you talked about. Balance is so important and the blog will always be here. No one will die if you miss a post. I am so glad you are feeling better… Take care of yourself girl!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    You are in good company my friend. Which is why one of my “resolutions” is to focus on the word Peace. There is just so much crap, and some of it can but cut out, if we think about what really matters. Sickness isn’t good, but I’m glad you took it as a sign to shake things up. Maybe go to 2 recipes a week. Find something that works. Allow yourself to adjust and find a new normal.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Just what Gretchen and I need! I am forcing her to read this ASAP! As relatively new bloggers (and busy moms), we vacillate constantly between unbridled enthusiasm and discouraging self-doubt, between the thrill of embracing every possible opportunity and the utter burnout of having just embraced every … possible … opportunity! Thank you for this wonderful post, as well as for being a constant source of inspiration to newbies like us! Glad you’re feeling better … and really looking forward to all you have to share in 2014! 😀

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay- this is such a great post with invaluable tips. I am trying to divorce my phone when I get home from work and on the weekends. I often find my boyfriend and I sitting on couch watching TV, on our phones, and not communicating at all. Sometimes I think we need to just slow down and lead simpler lives, and this post really takes that notion to heart. Happy New Year!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love this post, Lindsay! December is such a crazy month and for someone whose plate is already full, it can definitely be challenging. Glad you are feeling better and thanks for sharing all the links. I’m looking forward to checking them out during a little R&R time. By the way, the photography is gorgeous! Take good care, and rest up:)

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ummm … I feel like you wrote this just for me. Like, it should have said, “Dear Gretchen, Please read this amazing post on burnout I just wrote. I’m talking directly to you!”
    I might be (nope, I totally am) one of those people who also needs to read the article on being overly busy. If only I had more hours in the day or more days each week, right??
    Shelley emailed me this me and told me to read it ASAP. I am totally burnt. To a crisp. I am so glad that you, the blogger I truly look up to, also sometimes feels this way. Not that it makes it ok, but somehow … less … stressful!
    Thanks for an amazing bit of advice – I hope we both can reprioritize in 2014! 🙂

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I loved this post! I hope you find rest. Isn’t it amazing how we feel like if we’re going to cook or bake something, it might as well be for the blog? Then there is the added stress of making it spectacular and photographing it. Every now and then I’ll allow myself the freedom of making something awesome and saying it’s just for us.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    AMEN, sister. I’ve been battling a lot of over-anxious stress lately, and the other day I stopped and realized, “for what!?” With ambitious projects (or even the stuff that I tend to procrastinate on) I do the “3-3-3” test. Will I be happy that I did/created/worked on this in 3 hours, 3 months, or 3 years? If yes to all three- then it’s worth it. If not, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. And if only one- then I need to honestly answer why. It helps me stop and prioritize sometimes.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I loved reading every word of this post. You make it look so easy with the little empire you’ve established so it’s nice to know that even you struggle sometimes.

    It just feels like no matter how hard you try to keep up, you’re always behind! But you are so right, life is just waaay to short to miss out on the good things that are enjoyed when you’re not so busy. I like the idea of peaceful rest.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      That’s exactly how I feel – no matter how hard you try to keep up, you’re always behind. I think it’s kind of something where we just have to let go. Or for me, I have to teach myself how to let go and redefine success.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post. It’s so hard to schedule times to rest when there’s so many things you always want to get done and you just end up going going going all the time. I’ve made an effort to meditate now and it makes a huge difference.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wonderful post! I also read the article on being “busy,” and I think it is such a testament to our society and our generation that people are always “busy.” I’m a bit of introvert/ homebody, so alone time and quiet time is really important for me, but I used to feel guilty – like I was missing out on things by staying home. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that relaxing and doing things that benefit me are really important for my health and sanity!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Modern lifestyles have become far too busy in general … glad that you shared this, Lindsay, and thanks for the podcast links … I’ll enjoy listening to those today while I’m working.
    I’ve just started my blogging journey, but I can already see how easy it would be to get burnt out. It’s a lot of work!
    All the best for a more balanced and restful 2014!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh, God bless you. Please rest. We’re not going anywhere, even if you have to cut back on your blog. I truly look forward to your posts and that’s not going to change, nor will it for anyone else here. We’ll still appreciate everything you do, even if it happens less frequently. I’m glad to hear you’re doing better, even though you had to hit a breaking point. Best of luck with your students and fingers crossed for an enjoyable 2014.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Erin! I feel so much better after taking almost ten days off from blogging and work in general over Christmas break. 🙂 Glad to be back, and ready to handle burnout the next time it comes around!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I know what BURNOUT means. Although mine came from being a full time stay at home mom, trying to lose weight and trying to do everything perfectly and so many other things. Even trying to balance everything and trying to bring peace of mind makes me burn out too. How crazy is that! Some of my reliable solution: read Psalm 23, pray and just by hugging my husband and kids.

    My hope for you this 2014 ( even though it is New Year is 9 days ago), ” I HOPE YOUR MIND WILL BE AT PEACE AND YOU CAN DATE BJORK MORE.”

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m not a blogger, never have been, and I’m recently and happily retired from college teaching. I have lots of time to do whatever I want to do…although I’ve taken on many roles there simply was not time to do when I was teaching. That said, even now I have to prioritize. And you should too. Do you really have to come up with a post every day….or even every third day? What’s most important in your life? Who is most important? Surely, it is not I, or any other of your subscribers. Make your creative pursuit fun and uplifting, not burdensome. Go to church. Love your family. The rest will work itself out. Trust.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh I am so with you on this one Lindsay. Just beating a chest cold myself. As I read your post I was nodding, nodding. The message to rest is coming at me from all angles, and so I listened. Monday I crashed and burned and slept all day while taking as much vitamin C as humanly possible along with Sudafed, Mucinex and zinc. Last weekend we hosted (at our house!) a really important VIP party for 80+ people, for which I did all of the planning, and most of the shopping, cooking food and details. Thank heavens for my chef friends who also helped in the kitchen to get all of the food done on time (while I was trying not to lose my voice). Sunday I did a cooking demo for close to 5000 people and was at then event most of the day and evening. I must have been running on adrenaline as I hardly felt a thing. Several people grabbed me by both shoulders and and told me I had to REST. I know what you mean about beating yourself up about getting recipes and posts out, and I was beating myself up about that too. I don’t know how you get three out a week. Not possible. My goal is twice a week this year! You are amazing. We are so hard on ourselves, aren’t’ we? Rest. Balance. Not working non-stop. And I agree, spending snuggle time, quiet time, fun time,with those we love, without constantly being on an agenda. Terrific post! Thanks, hugs and blessings!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Sally! I’ve been talking to a few people who are starting the Daniel Plan so it always makes me think of you and your delicious, healthy recipes. 🙂 Thank you for the comment – glad to know I’m not alone!