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The idea of working from home in cozy pajama pants seems like a pretty appealing prospect. With no commute, more flexibility, and the added benefit of wearing comfy clothes all day what more could one ask for? Yet ever since a large percentage of the world’s workforce shifted to working from home during the recent pandemic, the discussion of burnout has become a hot topic. In fact, a recent study from FlexJobs and Mental Health America found that 75% of people have experienced burnout at work, with 40% saying they’ve experienced burnout specifically during the pandemic.
Warning Signs of Burnout
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
But if working from home is supposed to be less stressful and more flexible, then why are so many people experiencing burnout? And how can you avoid it?
Consider the following actions to help you keep a healthy balance between your work and home lives:
Maintain a Schedule for When to Start and When to Stop Working
Without having to commute to and from work, many people are logging in earlier and logging off later. In fact, 37% of employed respondents to a FlexJobs and Mental Health America study said that they are currently working longer hours than usual, ever since the pandemic started. In order to maintain a healthy work schedule, make sure to only work the hours you would be working if you were in the office.
Create a Dedicated Workspace Away from Distractions
If you’re working from your living room in the middle of household distractions, then you can’t fully dedicate your time to your work. It’s better to have a spot in a quiet room or even just in a quiet corner of the house that is away from your family members, pets, and the tv. This will help you maintain your focus and be more productive. Having a dedicated workspace will train your brain to recognize the physical location you’ve dedicated to work, so that it’s not only easy to concentrate, but also easy to “leave work” once you’re finished for the day.
Being inside all day can lead you to feeling cooped up and sluggish. Go for a walk, do some gardening, or take a call from your backyard. Stepping away from the computer screen and getting some fresh air rejuvenates your body and your mind.
It’s important to communicate with your coworkers and your boss and let them know when you will be available. Then stick to a firm schedule of logging on and logging off. Don’t answer calls or emails when your workday has ended. If you’re always on and available 24/7, then you’re never really able to fully relax.
With hours spent on zoom, work calls, and answering emails, you can easily feel lazy and sedentary. Although it may feel like the last thing you want to do, getting in a workout will help you feel much more energized. Exercise is a natural mood booster and helps combat stress and anxiety. If going to the gym isn’t an option, there are tons of free home workouts available online and on fitness apps that require no equipment.
Schedule Frequent Breaks
Take small breaks throughout the day away from your computer to stretch your legs, make a cup of coffee, or do a short meditation. If you need help remembering to take a break, set your alarm for once an hour as a reminder to get up, move around, and change your scenery.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Working from home can make it difficult to stick to healthy eating habits, leading to poor concentration and feeling lethargic. Your body can’t run on empty and it can be tempting to reach for unhealthy snacks or order takeout. Planning your meals ahead of time and preparing healthy snacks can help you stay on track.
Stay Connected to Combat Loneliness
Without having colleagues to talk to in person, working from home can feel isolating. Humans are naturally social beings, so not having social interaction can cause feelings of loneliness. Talk to your neighbors, schedule weekly calls with your friends and family, and set up virtual happy hours or chats with your coworkers. Having some quality time to socialize can do a lot to curb feelings of burnout and anxiety.
Create a Signal That the Workday Has Ended
When the workday is over, your brain needs a physical signal that it is time to stop working. That signal can be changing into comfortable clothes, closing your laptop (and resisting the urge to open it until the next morning) or if you have a separate work phone, shutting it off until the morning.
Working remotely comes with both benefits and drawbacks. Sticking to a set schedule for waking up, doing work, eating meals, taking breaks, and going to bed is vital to your physical and mental health. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, try implementing these small changes and establishing a routine in order to reduce your risk of burnout.
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