Burnout in the workplace is a form of exhaustion caused by a constant feeling of depression or demotivation (WebMD). It’s an outcome of extreme and constant physical, emotional and mental distress. It happens when you’re exhausted, emotionally spent, and unable to compete with life’s constant pressure. Burnout keeps you from working effectively and spills over into your personal life. It lowers your energy and motivation, making you feel anxious, uninspired, and discontented. Recurring burnout can jeopardize your social and personal life, and even make you more vulnerable to flu and colds.
Burnout has been discovered to actually change the neurological paths in your brain, causing a dangerous pattern that could be considered a neurological dysfunction. This means burnout can modify your brain and leave you working often from a completely different mindset, one that can be less focused, creative, or productive.
With the increase in remote work many homes are now doubling as workplaces. And while working remotely has evident advantages, many employees still experienced work burnout. According to a recent Gallup study, many remote employees experience more burnout than employees on-site.
This lack of separation of work and non-work has led to employees work longer hours without setting limits (staying up later, having more meetings, and staying up later at night). This leads to workdays with no distinct starting or ending time. Job fatigue and anxiety affect all individuals in different ways, it is important to recognize the early signs of burnout.
Self-doubt and sense of failure
Feeling helpless and defeated
Loss of motivation
Increasing negative outlook in life
Decreased sense of accomplishment and satisfaction
Recurring headaches and muscle pain
Change in appetite and sleeping habits
Regardless of where you’re working, here are a few ways to help manage burn-out.
Take breaks to walk or exercise
Make sure you freshen your mind by taking breaks to stop work-from-home burnout and to stay motivated and productive. Set some time in your schedule to relax mentally and physically. By exercising or simply taking a brisk walk, can help alleviate stress and help your mind reset toward what motivates you. It is also an excellent way to get moving, stretch aching muscles, and get some steps. Whether you stroll around the floors of your house or worksite for a break or walk to a nearby park, this can help your mind rest and unwind during your workday. The unhealthiest habit that could further cultivate burnout is to feel “stuck in place” and not move your body at all.
Rewarding yourself when working is a fantastic way to stay motivated and break up your day and tasks. For example, after working through 10 virtual meetings, reward yourself with a healthy and hearty meal. Did you hit your sales quota this month, or did you finish a task earlier than scheduled? Reward yourself with a new top from your favorite shop, or an hour-long full body massage. Make a habit of rewarding yourself to steer clear of burnout, and introduce positivity and a healthy approach to your mindset.
Take a day off to relax
Avoid stress and lessen anxiety by taking a day off to relax. It can be challenging especially if your home serves as your office some of the time. You have a constant reminder of deadlines, and that stress normally associated with your executive office space merges with the supposed-to-be rest space of your bedroom. Make time to relax by leaving your home office when you don’t have to work. Burnout usually occurs when you are working too much and too often without having a personal mission in mind. Take a vacation and fully unplug. Turn off notifications and logout of emails and chat apps.
Schedule time to eat
Skipping meals and binging on unhealthy snacks like salty chips and cookies promotes low energy, bad moods and discomfort. Make an eating schedule to keep track is a great way to take your mind off work. Have a good relationship with food and your work by eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help your body and mind feel good and avoid anxiety. And if you can, watch a few Youtube tutorials so you can cook for yourself and control eating out.
Set boundaries: Stop working on weekends!
Of course, if you’re a freelancer trying to hit a Saturday deadline for a client, then put in those hours, but don’t forget to give time for yourself on weekends. You might find yourself sliding in your desk on a Sunday evening to check on personal emails, and end up answering clients and replying to work emails. Break the cycle by giving yourself some “me time”, especially after a hectic and demanding week of work.
Make socializing personally or virtually a priority, especially if you work from home and live alone. It can make you feel isolated from your coworkers, friends, family, and the world. Look for someone in your network and is in the same position as you to connect and interact. Many even started looking for local offices for rent in order to get that change of environment while also being able mingle with other remote workers. Gather your online friends and set up virtual game nights and interactive webinars. Always remember, behind every screen is a person who also craves human interaction, same as you. Don’t let burnout make you feel detached. There is always a new friend waiting to be discovered.
You are human
We’re all human and no one is perfect. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter may make many people appear perfect, but if you look intently, you’ll notice there is no “perfect employee” and not everyone is having ‘the best day ever.' Don’t be too hard on yourself, especially if you are new to working from home. Accept and learn from your mistakes, work on your obstacles and create solutions. Love yourself and everything will fall into the right place.
Seek professional help
Working in isolation for long periods can make you feel alone and anxious. Strong network support is crucial for healthy mental wellbeing. If you’re having serious struggles consider getting help from professionals. There are many inexpensive and even free digital mental health tools available online, such as BetterHelp, Talkspace, Cerebral, and ReGain.
Working from home has gained momentum as the business world shifts, and will likely remain for a long time. It allows for more flexibility, but many employees still experience burnout. It’s important to recognize the early signs of work from home burnout and find options to support immediate recovery. Paying attention to physical and mental wellbeing should be prioritized first. Incorporating positive thoughts in daily routine is also a big help to prevent and overcome burning out. Always remember that you are not alone.