At this point, many of us have gotten used to the idea of working from home, whether we previously were into the concept or not. It doesn’t look like we’ll be heading back to the “before times” picture of “normal” anytime soon, so it’s important to know how to deal with that creeping feeling of WFH burnout. So what can you do to deal with this feeling?
First of all, what is work from home burnout? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” This was a very real problem even before the pandemic, and now this issue is extending to those who are working from home as well.
It makes sense, as we’re living through quite unprecedented times and it is understandable that many of us are going to be stressed out more than usual. According to clinical psychologist Andrew Schwehm, work from home burnout happens “when people can’t separate their work life and their home life. Burnout is essentially a chronic form of fatigue.”
Many of has have been dealing with chronic stress and fatigue, which can sometimes make it difficult to discern whether you are experiencing burnout. If you’re working from home and are feeling any of the following things, you might be experiencing work from home burnout:
-procrastinating and avoiding work related tasks
-missing deadlines and performing at lower levels than usual
-feeling worried, sad, angry, irritable on regularly
-suffering from poor sleep
-experiencing feelings of depression
-physical symptoms like stomach or chest pain, headaches, dizziness, or fainting
If you are feeling any of these, you should address them as soon as possible. Burnout is chronic and does not resolve itself on its own, so it’s important to take steps to take care of yourself.
You can help fight work from home with several approaches. The first involves designating a specific area of your home from work. Separating your personal life from your work life is critical. Make sure you’re not working from your bed, because that will really blur the line. Setting literal boundaries will help keep your work away from your personal life within your house.
Speaking of boundaries, you should also remember that while working from home, it might be easy to feel like you’re never out of the office. It’s important to make not only physical boundaries, but also time-related boundaries in order to help prioritize your family time, personal time, and work time.
You can also restructure your schedule, if your work permits. If you find that the typical 9 to 5 timetable just doesn’t work when you’re working from home, consider a less traditional work schedule that fits your personal goals as well. You can start early, take a break to deal with your personal things, then get back to work when you can. Try to find a rhythm that works for you and your employer.
Make sure you take some time off, even if you don’t think you deserve it. Using your vacation days is necessary in order to keep your mental health in check and help avoid physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. This is especially true when you’re balancing working from home and taking care of your personal obligations.
It’s also important to remember to take short breaks throughout the day, even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes. This is important to give your mind and your eyes a rest, especially if you’re staring at a computer all day long.
It can be difficult to remember that you have a lot you can control even in this difficult time. Focus on the things that you do have control over, and work on accepting that things that you cannot control. Say no when you need to, and tackle simple things on your to do list to boost your sense of accomplishment.
Last but not least, make sure you’re spending lots of quality time with friends and family. This can be quite healing, especially if working from home is making you feel very isolated.
The combination of working from home, regular stress from life, and the ongoing pandemic is the perfect storm for experiencing burnout. Make sure you try to recognize if you’re going through this and take care of yourself as soon as possible.