While working from home may have felt like a dream when the pandemic first hit (sweatpants all day, no commute, etc.), it quickly became an issue as many people struggled with making their own schedules, staying productive, and setting appropriate boundaries around when to work and when to be “off.”
As many companies have switched to remote indefinitely, more and more people are struggling with burnout. The World Health Organization (WHO) defined Burnout as an “occupational phenomenon.” They go on to include the following as signs and symptoms of burnout: “lack of energy or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”
If you feel like you’re experiencing burnout or well on your way there, here to tips to help you combat it and improve your overall wellness while you work from home.
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- Create a routine.
Now that working-from-home is your life, whether temporarily or indefinitely, create some kind of routine to help give you a sense of “work time” vs. “personal time.” This might look like taking a shower before you sit down at your laptop, or taking your dog for a walk as soon as you’re done with your work duties for the day.
Giving yourself a set start and end time will help you better choose how to carve out better self-care for yourself during your “personal time.”
2. Create a space for your “work life.”
If you don’t have the luxury of a separate office, consider setting up one specific space in your home that is where you work. It could be a table or a comfy chair set up in a corner.
Having one place be your “office” can stop you from constantly working while sitting on the couch or—worse—in bed.
Exercise has been proven both to lift your mood, improve your sleep, and boost your energy. It’s also been linked to reducing anxiety and depression, which often occurs alongside burnout. It’s also something you can easily do from home since you can watch exercise videos on YouTube, subscribe to virtual fitness classes, or just take a walk outside. If gyms are open where you are and you feel comfortable going, that’s always an option too.
It doesn’t matter how you do it. It just matters that you do!
Exercise can be one of the most beneficial things you can do to combat burnout, so it should be the first thing you begin incorporating once you feel the effects of it. Make sure to wear your favorite activewear pants so that you look and feel your best.
4. Re-think your schedule (if possible).
If your employer allows for a little flexibility, consider other schedule options. Maybe it’d be best for you to do certain tasks only after you’ve put your kids to bed and maybe only deal with meetings during the day. Try to be creative since what worked best for you may not work best for you now.
5. Stay connected to loved ones.
Even if you and your loved ones are apart, there can still be ways to connect as long as you’re intentional. Set up Zoom or FaceTime “dates” with friends or family members. Maybe you could both be eating dinner or having drinks at the same time, so it feels a little like how it used to. Check in and share. It may not be the same as it once was, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it at all.
6. Take time off.
Instead of using nights and weekends to catch up on work you weren’t able to get to, try to truly stick to your routine and then take time off when you’re not working.
Prioritize practice some forms of self-care, whether it be taking a bubble bath, binge-watching a new TV show, or playing board games with your family. This time can help you relax and feel refreshed come the next workday.
What if that doesn’t work?
If you’ve tried implementing the above strategies and you’re still feeling the overwhelming effects of burnout, it may be time to reach out to a mental health counselor or therapist. They can help by providing you resources as well as structure and accountability going forward on your path to recovering from burnout.
Times have changed, so we have to adapt. It is possible to enjoy working from home, but it starts with taking intentional steps toward finding a better balance.