2 years ago for day 83, 2019 with 520 words.

On the Antidote to Burnout

Three weeks ago I disappeared from writing daily at a time that felt like I had too much going on. I had committed to a competitive training schedule and gave my free time to bond with my gym. My nights were exhausting. I was either at stadiums photographing the fight team, or trying to squeeze in a few hours of work before passing out. Even with a midday nap, I felt like I was using up every mental and physical resource trying to stay under the threshold of overtraining.

Two weeks ago, I finally got on a fight card: I'm fighting April 3rd at Taphae Stadium in Chiang Mai.

Since then, my days have been even more eventful. I train between 2 to 4 hours a day, lift twice a week and run 5k in the morning. If this was a project in tech with the same energy demand, I would have burned out already. Yet, I'm getting better at increasing my intensity and kicking back when I'm done for the day. Last night I played tennis and the night before I went on a nice date where we ate every meat on the hotpot menu. I realized that even as the fight draws near, I'm not obsessed nor anxious, and don't feel like I should be. The more I train, the more I trust the process and the ups and downs that come with it.

I also realized an important piece of the puzzle: my community is an expert good at taking care of each other. Bad training day? No problem. We'll take you out for food and shower you with company to cheer you up. We'll urge you to sleep early and come back stronger tomorrow. It's not just teammates being nice, this is what a professional sports team do to be responsible for each other's growth and performance. Every day, people at the gym check-in on who's gas tank is full and who needs filling.

As I get more comfortable with this interdependence at the gym, I wish the tech world could learn a thing or two from this dynamic. Tech teams are so obsessed with performance, yet treat its people like autonomous productivity machines. People wonder why burnout is a problem and cynicism is the norm.

Last night, I looked up in the mirror while brushing my teeth and saw a different person than the girl who worked non-stop in tech. She is exhausted but has more gas in the tank than yesterday. Her eyes are barely staying open but they are clear from the guilt of not doing enough. She looked back at me with a certain fierceness.

In two weeks time, it will be my turn step into the ring and share the fruits of my training. I want to hear my coaches roar from my corner. I want the audience to cheer when I clinch and land a knee. I want to feed on that same energy I've photographed on so many nights for my comrades. And of course, I want to take home a win for my team.


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By Hannah Wei

@herlifeinpixels on Twitter. Here to conquer my fear of writing publicly. Product consultant. Ex-startup founder. Athlete.

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