In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.Dalai Lama
If what I am reading online and hearing from my friends, many of you are likely feeling pandemic burnout as well. We all have ways we are experiencing it. The two areas affecting me the most are being in front of a computer so much during the day (which is heightened even more but our increased social distancing) and self-isolation to protect my wife, who is immunosuppressed with her Multiple Sclerosis.
Social distancing when in the office and working from home means I am staring at my computer screen more than ever these days, rather than talking to people in person, walking around the university campus, and working alongside faculty, staff, students, and guests to assist them. My writers’ group meets via Zoom each week. Steering Committees I am on are meeting via Zoom. Project meetings are via Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate. Then my hobbies have gone digital as well with us playing rpgs over Zoom or Google Meet and using Roll20. Or playing video games on the computer or TV while talking via Google Meet or in game chat. Add in watching movies or tv shows with my wife, and I am staring at a computer screen all day for work and entertainment. All that screen time and very limited socializing in person has really begun to take its toll on me.
A member in my gaming group and long-time friend stated it well when I mentioned I am just tired of staring at screens all day. “Understandable. We are reaching that point of exhaustive repetition in this whole thing.” And he is so right. During the first few months of the pandemic, this was ok as we all felt it wouldn’t go on for so long. Honestly, it was fun getting to try out gaming online with my friends and playing video games I hadn’t in a long time. There was a novelty and fun to the change. But as the weeks turned into months and looking like the months are going to turn into a year for my wife and I, I am finding it difficult to relax in the evenings the way I had been.
For work, I will continue to be online and in front of a screen because I have to be, but I am making changes in evenings to help with my burnout and to reduce my stress. I am listening to audiobooks more with my wife and watching less TV. I am spending more time working on crafts and reading and less time playing video games. And I have begun discussing with one of my gaming groups about shifting back to how we used to game in high school and college. Back in college, we just sat around the dorm room and played. No maps. No miniatures. No handouts. No computers. We just listened carefully to whomever was DM/GM that game and they listened to their players. No visuals needed, just our imaginations. So we are going to try getting back to theater of the mind style roleplaying and skip the Roll20, Images, Maps, and such and just sit with books and dice in front of us and tell a story via headphones.
How are you managing your own pandemic burnout? Are you living in front of screen all day? If you can do that and enjoy it, I envy you. It has become to much so I need to find outlets that are less screen time but still with people when I can.