7 practical ways to conquer work-from-home burnout
It’s totally normal to feel more stressed than usual working within our current pandemic situation. But if you are starting to feel like you are hitting a wall of exhaustion, depletion, detachment, and lack of efficacy in your job – you may be experiencing the beginning of a work-related syndrome called “burnout”. The initial novelty of working-from-home may be wearing thin, especially for those juggling family care, confined work settings, and the daily bombardment of information related to the virus.
In some cases, simply the lack of variety and diversity in your daily experience may lead to a feeling of reliving the same day over and over again. The overlay of immediate health concerns, changes in work priorities and protocols, and uncertain business outcomes can make it even more difficult to stay positive and productive.
If you feel burnout may be causing you serious mental or physical distress right now, it may be best to contact a trusted advisor or professional counselor. Otherwise, here are some practical ways to fend off those potential feelings of burnout while working from home during the pandemic:
1. Acknowledge that although you may feel working from home is causing burnout, it may be more likely the combination of all the factors noted above, in this extra-ordinary time. Even those well accustomed to working from home may currently feel more stress and anxiety working from home than they would otherwise. Being mindful and self-aware can help you “check-in” and calibrate how to are doing, and prioritizing countermeasures against burnout.
2. Begin each day with a sense of purpose, with goals and objectives. Review and appreciate your accomplishments. If you feel somewhat lost, take a step back, confer with your manager and teammates and re-focus on the work that is expected and really matters. Make sure you know how to use the available collaboration tools to your best advantage and use them to stay engaged with your team.
3. Avoid joining the “cult of the busy”. Some people want everyone to know that they are working 12 to 14-hour days and doing more than ever before. This kind of propaganda can really load anxiety on others, especially if you feel like you need to do more and more, but you are not sure exactly why. You will likely feel less overwhelmed if you clarify what is expected in terms of work objectives, measurable outcomes, and engaging in that.
4. Proactively deal with practical problems with your work situation that may have emerged due to the pandemic. Things like increased (unmanageable) workload, altered job responsibilities, poor communications vague or uncertain expectations and direction, missing or deficient collaboration technologies and tools can all combine to create job burnout. Don’t ignore them – instead, constructively and creatively reach out to engage in a dialog with your management and team members in order to address what you can to improve the situation.
5. Take a break, and then another. Indoors or outdoors, figure out some helpful, healthy, and enjoyable distractions. If your job allows for it, leverage flexible work terms to vary the time of day and setting while working from home. Refer to our previous blogs on how to avoid feelings of social isolation and stay healthy and fit while home working.
6. Use some vacation time. Although it might not be the ideal time for an outbound holiday – it may be the right thing to do to stave off feelings of burnout when you are thinking “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” Using some vacation time to disconnect for a while can let you also get at some of those projects or things to do around the house and homestead that have lingered in the background.
7. Lastly – without getting too philosophical here, embracing a mindset of gratitude and optimism can make a difference. Perhaps reflecting on the simple things your grandfather used to say, like “this too shall pass”, “there are better days ahead” and “perseverance pays off”. Maybe volunteering or help someone else in need can provide a sense of renewal and gratification when you feel that job burnout is closing in on you. Some people also find buoyancy in faith, spirituality, meditation, and the like.
We are starting to see some tangible steps toward the post-COVID world, otherwise referred to as the “new normal”. While this gives us some access to things that we all have missed for weeks and months, it seems that working from home (in view of generally closed or partially closed office locations) may be a continuing feature for many of us. Hopefully, these seven tips offer some inspiration for all of us to better cope with this unprecedented human challenge!