Skip to main content

That Sense of Relief When You Don’t Have Plans

·409 words·2 mins
Mental Health

“You know, it’s funny,” I say to my friend. “Other people have been encouraging me to get out and do more, all fun things, but I haven’t wanted to. And they said this meant I was depressed, but I have to say… now that I have a few things off my plate, I feel so much relief. So much relief.”

“Ah,” my friend says. “Textbook burnout.”

Aha! Yes. Right. It’s so obvious. After all, I’ve been saying for weeks — months even — that I’m super burned out. And yet… multiple people in my life have been suggesting the antidote to this condition is to… do more.

I think it comes from a well-meaning place. For certain people, doing more can be a form of coping, if it’s the right stuff. And I think it’s especially so if you use avoidance and distraction as prominent coping strategies. In that situation, having something else to do takes your mind off things. It helps you.

I’m not like this. I’m a confronter. I tend to lean right into pain, into stress, into suffering — because I find that if I do that, I get over things faster. Versus avoiding that work and having it always in the background. (For the most part. I have had times when I’d much later realize something bothered me, and there was a denial/stoicism thing going on.) We’re all built differently. This approach has its own disadvantages.

Anyway, when I got slowed down, I wasn’t on the hunt for an escape, for another thing to pivot to. I wanted to slow down. And instead the opposite happened. An interesting dynamic formed, where folks close to me who cope in a different way took the sign that I didn’t want to do very much as depression — and a desire to self-isolate — so pushed me harder to participate in things I wasn’t feeling…

And oh Godzilla. It got bad. It took me a while to recognize the pattern. And it’s taking me a bit to slow down, to take steps back on some of this well-intentioned extra credit. But it’s starting to happen.

And as it does, I feel instant relief. Not boredom. Not emptiness. But relief. It’s wonderful not having so many plans.

Will there come a time when I’m bored and need more to do? Maybe. But for now I’m super content to not have so much looming over me. Yes, even fun stuff.


Productivity Dysmorphia, or Why You’ll Never Feel Like You Do Enough
·661 words·4 mins
Mental Health
When Your Stress Response Is to Do Even More
·426 words·2 mins
Mental Health
I Think the Unnecessary Gratitude Will Always Be There
·371 words·2 mins
Mental Health Survival