It was two months ago, and I hit that burnout wall. I became unmotivated, lacked energy, and my eyes and head hurt from staring at screens all day, from my work computer, phone, and television. Trying to escape the virus and bad news seemed nearly impossible. I always enjoyed staying busy, well that is what we learned here in America, it’s always so go, go, go. Then we were told to stop, stop, stop. It felt nice for a moment, but then I fell into the burnout and feel like I was there for quite some time, feeding into the negative news and the unknown. So, I needed help, like so many of us, to get out of that burnout and find purpose in the midst of chaos. I’m here to help with ways to navigate the different stages of burnout and give you the goods that helped me through all the stages.
(a person devotes extra time and energy on how they deal with stress): Picture this: you’re in your first two weeks of working from home. You just rolled out of bed, made a cup of coffee, no morning commute, no rushing to drop off the kids at school, still in your pajamas, turn on your computer, and when you take your zoom meetings, you don’t bother putting on work pants, just a nice shirt. Feels great right? Even stress-free perhaps.
Mitigation Strategy Stage
(person has become crankier and still trying to juggle everything): Alright now picture this: month four, five, maybe even six of working from home. Your energy and motivation are at a low…maybe feeling less productive and more irritable…going slightly crazy with working full-time and homeschooling the kids….so admit it you might even be missing “Janet telling you about Sunday Funday brunch and miss Carol and her random hissing/chirping she does when passing your desk.”
(harder time coping and find ways to detach): You start feeling exhausted for “no reason” or over the small things, like washing the dishes. You have begun procrastinating and stopped showing up for team zoom calls and you have become less exciting.
At this point, you probably have stopped doing things that you enjoyed because you feel the “why does it even matter.” You take your dog out for necessary walks only like a bathroom break, you’ve stopped working out, you’ve gone past indulging in bad food, television is on all day and night, and your energy is pretty much missing.
First, I want to say this: everything you are going through and feeling is VALID. You are not alone in any of this. We are in this together. Validate yourself and watch your perspective shift a bit (or more, like mine did). It all starts with self-compassion. There is no need to be hard on yourself. We are in a state of unknown, uncertainty, lost a decent amount of freedom, and doing our best to adjust to a new normal.
Listen, I know it. I loved working from home for the beginning, and although I still find joy in it there are some things of the outside world I miss. We have reached a different kind of burnout then we are used it. It’s not the usual long hours of work, answer emails/calls/slack messages after business hours, or finishing your day job to hopping into your side hustle.
What is burnout?
- Emotional exhaustion (the “but I did nothing today why am I so tired”)
- Lack of energy
- Caring less about friends/coworkers/clients
- High level of dissatisfaction in almost everything
- Headaches + back pain
- Reduced performance at work + home
How can you tell your remote employees are suffering from burnout?
- Taking too long to answer/complete a task
- Lack of concentration
- So I am here to help you navigate the pandemic burnout personally and professionally cause let’s be honest it’s hard to see the difference at this point.
Keep Daily Structure
Our daily routine has been interrupted that’s obvious and it may seem hard or unnecessary to hold ourselves accountable and have some structure in our day. However, having my lunchtime workouts and walks with my dog has honestly saved my energy, and it’s what brought me out of that funky burnout. Without having incentives to keep structure on a daily basis it’s very easy to get sidetracked and lose track of time and days. Keeping a daily structure helps your mental health during this tough time. Some routine that has helped me: going to sleep and waking up around the same time, picking up mail at the office, working out at lunch, and making sure weekends feel special such as taking my dog to a watering hole to swim or hike.
Let’s get physical
Utilize your lunch break as a time to get moving. You have the time and you don’t have to go shower really quickly before getting to the office. Let’s face it we have been on social media more now than ever so with that lets make that productive and mindful. Find trainers that are doing Instagram lives or saving their lives to their IGTV. There are so many fitness people offering free workouts that you can join whether that be 30-minute HITT or a full-blown 1-hour heavy hitter. Use that time to go outside and get some Vitamin D and walk/play with your dog or kids. The point is: You’ll never regret moving your body.
It is getting easier and easier now to simply continue to scroll on our phones. Even though we see a lot of negative media. We desperately want to be in the know and understand what is happening to see the next steps. Trust me…I know it. Ashamed to even admit how much higher my screen time percentage has gone since quarantine. Reduce your screen time to help improve your mood: add new activities (I’m learning to be a plant mom), again let’s get physical, read a book, journal, maybe learn to play an instrument. The possibilities are endless so find what works for you and set that boundary #selfcare
Less Zoom / Slack Video and tap into the mindful connection
I know this sounds counter-intuitive in my last blog about how to stay connected. It feels so long ago but remember that saying, “that meeting could have been an email.” Well, sadly that zoom conference call could also have been an email. It’s just that simple. We have been burnt out of one of the things that are keeping us connected for the sake of staying connected. Instead of doing an end of the week happy hour maybe do it bi-weekly or once a month. Become more mindful of how to stay connected with clients and coworkers.
Simple: find the joy in the little things
I love my lunch dog walks and on those walks I see birds flying and singing, come across butterflies, see bright flowers, and wave hello to a stranger across the street. We forget about the simple things because we are burnt out and trying to get to the “next BIG thing” or even “go back to normal.” Things will not be like before and we have a new normal we need to adjust to. That’s how the cookie crumbles. *cue Bruce Almighty* It’s simple: in the midst of chaos and unknown find what brings you peace during this time, pause, take a deep breath, and find joy in the simple things in life. Gratitude goes a long way. I strongly believe that the best thing to do as we experience pandemic burnout (or any burnout really) is return to yourself. Take care and spend time with yourself. Find your center. Get away from the kids, your spouse, your parents, your pets, and just have quality time with the most important person in your life: YOU.