Current studies, articles, and news reports are showing that two-thirds of at-home workers are suffering from burnout. With numbers like that, I’m pretty sure you either know someone who is, or you may be feeling it yourself.
Let’s start by stating the obvious. Since Mid-March of 2020 more workers than ever have found themselves working from home. Most had no advance warning and many had no experience working from home in the past. Couple that with other life changes that came along with the Pandemic shutdown – kids at home, significant others also at home, TP shortages, and so many other changes. Oh, and then there was the election. But let’s be honest, this is really a short list of the challenges that many of us have been facing. Plus, we are now going on almost a full year of this craziness. I’m sure that if you look at your personal situation you will have a whole page of changes and stressors that have contributed to your current state of mind.
The Signs and Symptoms of Burnout
If you are suffering from burnout chances are you have felt some (or all) of the following:
Unmotivated – “I don’t feel like doing anything!”
Apathetic – “I don’t care.”
Short-tempered – “Leave me alone, I’m trying to work here!”
Overly pessimistic – “Sure…you try that, it’s your time you’re wasting.”
Tired / No Energy – “Maybe I’ll hit snooze two (or three) more times!”
This list only gets us started and doesn’t even include physical symptoms like headaches, stomach issues, insomnia, and anxiety. And again, the list of symptoms is an abbreviated list as well.
You are Burnt Out, Now What?
If you read the list above and identified with it, then you are probably asking yourself what you can do about it. The good news is that you can get out of your burnout funk. Just remember, it didn’t take you overnight to reach the burnout point, it’s not going to fix itself overnight either.
Give yourself a start time, and a stop time each day. When we work at home it is easy to get so caught up in doing the work that we forget to create those boundaries that keep us from feeling like we are always working. Just as you would do in your office or workplace, do the same at home.
Take a Day (or a few days) Off. It’s a concerning trend, but employees are not taking time off like they used to. With no place to go, it’s hard to justify using time off, right? Wrong! You need to have time to detach yourself from work. Taking a mental health day can do a lot to help you get on the road to feeling more refreshed and relaxed.
Don’t Eat Lunch or Other Meals at Your Desk. I’ll be honest, this is a tough one for me, but even I have been making a conscious effort to take an actual lunch break to give my mind (and body) a chance to decompress. Even if it is for a short period of time.
Early in my career, I had a boss (who became one of my biggest mentors!) who had a saying, “Take your lunch, ‘cause I’m gonna fire you anyway!” Sounds pretty harsh, but it had a purpose. Earlier in her career, she was let go from a job. Of all the things that bothered her, it was all the lunches that she ate sitting at her desk. She felt like she had sacrificed her time for the good of her company, and in the end, she felt it was not reciprocated. Even though it was all in jest, she used it as an opportunity to teach balance to the people working for her. It was a lesson to be learned…take lunch!
Socialize. Remember all those friends and coworkers that we used to happy hour with, or have lunch with? Yes, them! Back at the beginning of the lockdown orders, you couldn’t go on social media without seeing a screenshot of friends drinking wine over Zoom. We need to spend time with others to help us relax and unwind. If you haven’t done so in a while then now is the time!
Take Care of Yourself. Self-care, good food, meditation, and exercise, are all ways to take care of you. If you are feeling irritable or overwhelmed, then having these things as part of your routine can really help to overcome the feeling of being out of control. Oh, and maybe ditch the PJs for some real clothes.
Evaluate your priorities and adjust accordingly. Take a step back and figure out what your current priorities are. Write them down if you need to. Then as you go through your day when you start to do a task or project, ask yourself if it relates to your set priorities or if it can wait. We often get so busy doing work that we aren’t necessarily doing the right work.
Get Back to Your Routines, or Make Yourself a New One. Having a morning routine or evening routine are ways to help you feel in control. They also help us to maintain or develop healthy habits that have an effect on all parts of our lives. If you were working in an office prior to the pandemic, then you probably had a routine that got you out of the house. Revisit that routine and see what you can start doing before you dive into your email. Creating an evening routine is also a great way to help you wind down so that you can get a great night of sleep.
While none of these suggestions offer an overnight remedy, setting boundaries and practicing good self-care will go a long way towards getting you on the road to recovery.