Ever have a day when you just want to curl up, take a nap, and do nothing?
That's what happened to me at Anime Central.
Gonna be honest here - ACEN burned me out pretty badly. At one point, watching the crowds surge by, it hit me: This isn't fun anymore. This is the exact last place I want to be. Hot, tired, and having run all weekend, I (weirdly) began to (almost) miss a normal desk job.
Now, I wasn't tired of the photography - all my clients were enthusiastic and brought me some really enjoyable stuff! However, the con itself wrung me out. Maybe it was the crowds. Maybe it was the people practicing ocarinas (Horrible nightmare screeching and I was thisclose to shoving one up somebody's nose.) In any case, the exhaustion followed me all the way back to Ohio.
I gave myself a couple of days off of photography. No editing. Limited internet. And coming back... I was excited about the images again! Phew!
But it concerns me that I burned out so badly. The feeling is still lingering, and I'm going to have to be careful of that. I want to keep doing this, so taking care of myself mentally is important! I worked too long at a job which made me unhappy, and that must not happen again.
Asking around, it turns out Burnout is a pretty common phenomenon. Here's some suggestions to keep it from happening to you, whether you're a vendor or an attendee.
How To Prevent Burnout
- Cut back. Be realistic about your expenses and time frames. If you need to cut back, do it. Remember - there will always be another event!
- Don't limit cosplay to cons! Save the more elaborate costumes for local and private shoots. Instead of ten hours in body paint and terrible shoes, you can get the shots in one. Your feet and sanity will thank you.
- Take breaks. Get out of the crowds. Find a quiet area to take a rest or a nap.
- Don't overschedule yourself. Be honest about what you can physically achieve. (There's a certain masochistic pleasure in being able to build a super-elaborate costume two days before the con, or changing outfits 37 times. However, is it worth being so exhausted you have no memories of wearing any of it?)
- Plan some fun. This is especially important for those working cons (booths, photographers, etc.) Hang with friends. Enjoy stupid games! Have dinner together! Don't feel guilty about taking some down time.
- After con - take it easy. Turn off Facebook for a day or two. Play video games. Watch TV. Go for a walk. Bake brownies. Sleep. (If you can manage to NOT go back to work right away, I highly recommend that!)
How about you? Have you ever felt burned out? What did you do to feel better? (And stay tuned for Part 2 to this post, because I've got an idea for you!)