Based on the research I, Mark Roemer, have done, approximately 62 percent of Americans reported working from home (WFH) during the pandemic. Only about 25% of workers worked from home before the pandemic. Although people have been adjusting to the WFH new-normal — continuous access to work, children in school, or significant others working in the next room — and the sometimes-depressing news from a 24-hour news cycle, studies show that those working remotely are overwhelmed, and many experience burnout. Below are nine tips to help you reduce work from home burnout right now, as well as how to spot it.
Define Your Hours
Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have been working longer hours. Create limits by creating and keeping to a work schedule. Set your work hours and then switch it off unless your job requires you to be available at specific times. Assume you need to catch a train back home. Close the door and walk away if you’re lucky enough to have a separate office with a door.
WFH stress is caused by the mind being overworked. The fridge, the laundry, your kids, and that spot on the rug all seem to be yelling at you. There’s also your inbox, screen, and social media to consider. “Squirrel!” Consider the following:
Isn’t it great if we could reassure ourselves that we don’t have to do the dishes? It’s much easier said than done. Setting timers is one way to keep focused. Take a look at the Pomodoro Technique: After 25 minutes of work, take a 5-minute break. Take a 20-minute break every four “pomodoros.” Have a plan for what you’ll do during those downtimes. Tell those in the house that, Should there be an emergency to interrupt you, otherwise, you’ll be available for five minutes or 20 minutes at a particular time.
Numerous studies have shown that humans are unable to multitask effectively and that attempting to do so actually reduces productivity. Turn off your television if it’s on in the background. Just read and respond to emails at specific times during the day, if possible. You can’t write and research a report while still checking your inbox. You can’t really do it.
There are applications that will remind you when you need to do something or help you build to-do lists if that works for you. Maintaining focus will make you feel more in control and less depressed.
Don’t wait until you’re irritated to act. Have plenty to anticipate. Make a promise to yourself and write it down — go for a walk at 2 p.m., read a book for 20 minutes after completing a paper, call a friend at 3 p.m. — whatever it is that you love. You aren’t slacking off on your job. You’re simply recharging the batteries for the remainder of the day.
Schedule time to walk, bike, or run in your day — before, during, or after work. It’s even more remarkable if you can do it outside. Fresh air can help alleviate stress and improve mental health, in addition to the benefits of moving your body and getting your blood flowing.
Meditation does not necessitate the use of any special equipment. Simply sit comfortably in a relaxed role. You can reduce the heart rate by focusing on your breath or a specific sound — “oooom” is a good one. Even five minutes of meditation will help to relax your mind and prevent your body from going into a stress response.
It’s easy to feel lonely during this period, even though you’re on video chats all day. Make an effort to stay in touch with friends and relatives. Take walks, have a picnic, go for a bike ride, play golf — whatever you can do while keeping a safe social distance if it’s possible, and you’re comfortable meeting in person. Are you less likely to go out? Meet up on the internet or via social media. In the end, build a supportive network and connect with people you like and trust.
When you don’t get enough sleep, the stress levels rise. “Research has shown that most Americans would be happier, healthier, and safer if they slept an additional 60 to 90 minutes a night,” according to the American Psychological Association. Prioritize a good night’s sleep: Stick to a schedule: go to bed at the same time every night, keep your room dark and calm, and switch off the TV and other screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
People are not taking their paid time off, according to a WorldatWork and PTO Exchange report. Work-life harmony, if such a thing ever existed, is entirely out of whack. Even if your dream holiday spot is closed to visitors, there are always ways to escape both physically and mentally.
You could start to burn out at work if you’re having trouble handling stress. Burnout is described by the International Classification of Diseases as an occupational phenomenon, not a medical illness, and is characterized by the following:
- Depletion or exhaustion of energy: It’s possible that you’re unable to cope. You may be suffering from medical problems such as stomach pains.
- Increased mental distance from your work or a pessimistic, cynical attitude about it: You can find yourself emotionally separating yourself from coworkers and feeling numb about your job.
- Reduced efficiency: It’s possible that you’re having trouble concentrating, that you’re bored and that you’re not being innovative.
Some of these signs and symptoms are similar to those of depression, but depression does not always lead to burnout or vice versa. If you’re experiencing tension, grief, or depression, call (800) 985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to reach out to the Disaster Distress Helpline. Also, inquire with your employer about any employee assistance programs that might be available.
I, Mark Roemer, know the WFH routine will likely be with us for quite a while. Even post-pandemic, many companies plan to allow employees to work remotely. These strategies for preventing work from home burnout can help whether you’re wearing your jammies or a suit while doing the 9-to-5 thing. Staying healthy is your No. 1 priority.