rebounding from burnout

In academia by Henry WolfLeave a Comment

Writing the thesis for the Master of Science degree, a milestone on the way to the Philosophy Doctorate in my program of study, took a lot out of me. The final two months before submitting it were split between days that I forced myself to spend all day doing something I dislike and days when I was disappointed in myself for not getting enough done. That was in March and April of this year. As you can tell from my previous post, it was successfully defended and published in the university library. The toll it took on my motivation and habits, however, lingers to this day.

My exercise and dietary habits have fallen to the wayside. Whereas I ran the New York Half Marathon in early 2016, I would likely have to walk part of a 5K today. I used to cook regularly to ensure a fairly healthy diet, but it has been months since I have cooked something beyond a quesadilla. I find myself tired on a daily basis, and often unable to overcome that seemingly causeless exhaustion. Focusing on work for extended periods of time is often a non-starter. Things have been getting better, but the extent of the burnout requires more time to recover.

I was quite energized during the Deep Learning Summer School in Montreal and the Data Science Summer School in Paris. This makes me think that recovery can be accelerated through various engaging activities and building good habits. I have started using Freedom to block distracting websites and Be Focused Pro to stick to the Pomodoro technique. I have also gotten back into using Coach.me to track daily habits, like exercise and meditation. It has not been a smooth start, but the fact that I am writing a blog post at all provides evidence that something is working.

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