How to prevent burnout when working from home

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How to prevent burnout when working from home

If you’ve been working remotely through the pandemic, you’ll have probably noticed that the lines between work mode and home can easily be blurred.

It’s a common misconception that employee burnout is only related to people who work in an office. For millions of remote employees, burnout has become a real issue, with many workers trying to prove themselves during these challenging times, others trying to work with children being around and it generally being a high-pressured few months.

The most common symptoms of burnout include (but aren’t limited to) constant feelings of exhaustion, loss of sleep and/or appetite, lacking motivation, feeling anxious and even depression.

It’s important to be aware of these symptoms so that if you start to notice them within yourself or a colleague, you can act before things get any worse.

Here are some techniques that can help to reduce the onset of burnout.

1. Establish a Schedule

Most people have fixed working hours, and this helps to distinguish between working and down time. Working from home has made it harder to separate the two; working days are starting earlier and finishing later as people feel pressured to work through what would have been their commute and it’s much harder to avoid emails or tasks when your laptop is constantly in the next room. In order to help separate work and home life, it’s helpful to establish a work schedule and stick to it. Try to start and end your day around the same time each day and factor in a proper lunch break. During the times that you’re not scheduled to work, don’t. This is your down time and it’s time to reset and reenergise so that when you return to work you have a fresh perspective.

2. Keep Active

If you’re feeling exhausted, exercise is probably the last thing you want to think about but, the impact of exercise on our motivation and wellbeing levels is undeniable. It is a huge mood booster, keeps us healthy and increases energy so for these reasons, keeping active should be a top priority. When building your schedule, try to factor in at least 30 minutes of active time every day. This could be a high intensity class, a yoga session, a bike ride or a walk, the opportunities are endless! Scheduling this time into your day will make you much more likely to stick to it and you can use this time to fully switch off from the pressures of the day.

3. Switch off at Weekends and Evenings

Unless you’re contractually required to work weekends or evenings, this is your time and should be spent away from your work. As mentioned before, whether you’ve got a home office or you’ve been working from your kitchen table it has become much harder to fully switch off when work now encroaches into your personal space so you need to be committed. Shut down everything on a Friday afternoon so you’re not tempted to check your emails out of working hours and try to spend your evenings and weekends doing things you enjoy, regaining your work life balance.

4. Make time to Socialise

One of the most common effects of burnout is to withdraw from social settings. The past year has been especially isolating anyway so with these two issues combined, feelings of negativity and anxiety are easily exacerbated.  Whether it’s in person or virtually, socialising is so important when it comes to how we feel, so committing to this will really help give you a boost. Having a chat with friends, indulging in a group hobby, or connecting with your colleagues all contributes to better wellbeing. It can also be helpful to get a different perspective on things so don’t be afraid to talk about how you’re feeling.

5. Be Honest

There’s no shame in feeling burnt out, the key thing is to be honest with yourself and your employer about how you are feeling. Taking an honest and pragmatic approach to it should secure you some support. Your employer will know that an employee struggling with burnout isn’t going to be as productive as they usually are and therefore it’s in their interest to help you. Recognising how you’re feeling and reaching out to others is a positive step towards change, so what are you waiting for?

There are lots of ways to reduce feelings of burnout, the first step is to acknowledge how you’re feeling and think about what will help alleviate the pressure.

Knowing the symptoms and recognising the causes of burnout are both key to preventing things from escalating.