Let's Talk Work-from-Home Burnout
Burnout is feeling mentally, emotionally and physically fatigued from prolonged stress, most often from work, reduced sense of efficiency, a dread of going to work or work tasks, dwindling compassion and irritability.
The added layer of working-from-home can create blurred lines from work and home responsibilities, along with leisure or self-care time. Finding a balance between work, home and self-care is important to avoiding or reducing work-from--home burnout.
How people working-from-home can avoid or cope with Burnout
1. Have a designated workspace: even if a small table and chair in the corner
It does not matter if your work-from-home is permanent or temporary, you need a spot in your home for work. It is important to make a designated spot in your home that you can go to work, and you can leave work. It would be helpful to decorate your work area, set it up near a window for some natural light during the day and have your work supplies organized and near you.
2. Create a schedule: have a sense of purpose for your day
Set boundaries and limits for your day. Create a daily or weekly to-do list and start with important tasks. This will help you stay focused and feel good when you get to check tasks off the list. It’s important to set a time to start and stop work. Do not eat lunch at your work desk, try going outside or a place you can relax. Make sure to take breaks throughout your day to get up and move if you are mostly sitting.
3. Connect with colleagues: by video or phone if possible
Ask for help from your boss or colleagues when needed, this is especially important if you are new to working at home where support was easily available and now you must actively seek it out. Set a time to do a video conference with a colleague that you might get advice from or have a short chat to check in on each other. Have a lunchtime video chat with a coworker or a few. If something is not working for you with your work-from-home situation, talk to your boss and explore options to help you be more effective while working-from-home.
4. Get some Exercise: go for a walk during a break or after work
It is important to take small breaks and stand up during your day, this is especially important if you are working in front of a computer most of the day. Try taking a 10-minute walk outside, this can help you rejuvenate and clear your mind; avoid checking your phone during this time. Plan a workout or walk before or after work.
5. Self-Care! Self-Care! Self-Care!
It is important to remember that when working-from-home you have your work and home responsibilities, but you also need to incorporate self-care. You don’t have your daily commute when working-from-home which for many is built in transition time to prepare yourself for the day and to decompress when the workday is over. Many use the commute time for self-care such as having quiet time, listening to music or a podcast or talking to a friend. Try to put in a 10 minute transition self-care routine before and after work.
Plan one hour every week or take a day off to do something for yourself. Do not take a day off for self-care and clean your home. Try to disconnect from work and home responsibilities during self-care time. You can try a new hobby, set up a relaxing corner for yourself, read a book or whatever helps you relax.
If you are actively trying these or other techniques to reduce burnout while working-from-home and you do not see your symptoms getting better, it might be time to think about your struggles as more than burnout. It could be depression, anxiety, your working-from-home or your job is not the right fit for you. I would suggest this might be the time to think about speaking to a therapist to help explore your concerns more.
Monica McNeeley is a licensed therapist, LCSW, provides online therapy in the state of California. She has been providing therapy services since 2011.
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