Have you ever woken up from 8 hours of sleep and still felt tired? I've been there. Its the beginning signs of burnout. May was Mental Health Awareness month and I felt compelled to write about how to avoid burnouts especially when working from home. Burnout occurs when you are feeling mentally, physically, and exhausted caused by excessive stress. It is essential when you don't feel able to keep up with the ever-changing "demands" of your life. Trying to avoid burnout when working from home is hard as the clear lines between work and personal life are now blurred.
On top of having to work from home, there has been an underlying need to show an unrealistic high level of productivity since we are all working from home. This pressure to keep the same momentum we had pre-COVID-19 or even higher is ridiculous. Trying to avoid burnout while working from home seem impossible with these expectations. The need to show your boss you are still working just as hard at home. Or the desire to keep up with all the new social zoom chats that are flooding your inbox. The facade that you have to keep up when connecting with family and friends despite all that is going on. This leads to burnout.
There is nothing regular about what we are facing right now. How can we avoid burnout when we have to deal with a global pandemic, high unemployment rates impacting many friends and family members, social distancing at different levels of quantities, financial pressure, lack of job securing, and the impending recession. Most of us have been working from home over 9 weeks, pretending to teachers to our restless children, trying to follow workout videos to not get the Covid-19 pounds, hoping to maintain our relationships and shielding ourself from the chaotic Covid-19 updates on all media outlets.
With all of this coupled together, burnout is inevitable. There will be days when you feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Being stressed equating to having too much going on and while being feeling burnout mean void of motivation due to feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.
Clear signs of burnout:
You don't feel motivated by what you are doing at work or at home.
You are constantly exhausted.
You feel alone in the world
You experience constant headaches and migraines
Skipping tasks you needed to complete
Distancing yourself from those you love
Feeling helpless or defeated
Constantly negative about every situation.
If you answered yes to many of the above then you need to take a step back as burnout is on the horizon. Try and avoid burnout when working from home by following these 5 simple steps.
Manage Your Time
Time management is a skill you need to learn now especially when you are trying to avoid burnout. Take the time to map out your schedule every week. I spend late Sundays to help walkthrough my meetings, tasks, and key deliverables for a given week. Block time on your calendar for work time or email time. Be strict on lunch hours not being work hours. Let your team know your work schedule and the best time and ways to contact you. This is extremely important.
Don't be afraid to say no. Just because you are now working from home, doesn't mean you have been working 24 hours of the day. Your work hours are the same just in a new location. Don't feel compelled to say yes to every task or prove some level of productively to "show face." Work hard to manage your time because your time is valuable. You are valuable.
Find Value in What You Do
Think about what you are doing in a greater sense than just the weekly or daily mundane task. How do your tasks fit into the vision or mission of your company? What bigger picture objectives are you impacting. Sometimes it's hard to see your progress when you have a daily view. Step back and see how your work is helping drive a larger initiative.
And from a personal level, how does your current job fit into your career aspiration and goals. Are you currently at your job to learn a new skill, or gain leadership exposure? Focus on your bigger goals and how this job or role is a stepping stone to that vision. This will help you find more value in what you do.
Take Time for Yourself
Treat your weekends like weekends. Find a time during your week that will act like your weekend and treat as such. Prior to Covid-19 weekends were the days used to unwind but now it feels like every day is a Monday. Find special things to do or eat on the weekend to break up your workweek.
Schedule "me" time. It sounds silly but put a reminder on your calendar right now to block time for yourself. Just aimless time for only you. Everyone needs a pause button and my commute home from work provided this for me. But now as I am working from home, I need to find other ways to decompress or release the day off. I was given this advice and it honestly helped since working at home.
I saw my friends getting burned out and I knew it was because they were not taking time for themselves. Our working schedules have shifted and our work environment has changed. Give yourself some grace during this period. Stop overworking yourself and avoid burnout by taking time for yourself.
Take Care of Your Body
I can tell my friends are going through a hard time when their eating habits changes. You have a tendency to lean toward unhealthy foods when you are stressed out or going through hardships. To avoid burnout, find ways to stay active and take care of your body. Now I am not saying, download the Nike App and join their free HIIT classes but find ways to keep caring for your body even when your entire schedule is upside down.
Easy ways to take care of your body.
Do an online yoga class
Take a walk outside
Try a new healthy recipe
Buy a new fruit or vegetable at the grocery store
Stretch before going to bed
Have a meeting outside
Join a zoom workout class
Connect with Those Close to You
Its is so important to maintain your relationships and connections with your friends and family. Don't go silent. Mental health, unfortunately, is still taboo in society. But that shouldn't be the case. We should feel encouraged to get support and help not discouraged. Sometimes a bad day can be changed just by a call from a friend or someone you love.
So, make an effort to set up zoom chats or give people you love and care about a call. In fact, head to your phone right now and make a reminder to chat with one person you miss and love later this week. Your friends and family are a great sounding board to help walk through some of the things you may be facing. DOn't like you have to go through hardships, stress, worry, or anxiety alone. Your network is there just for this reason, to help you. Now is the time to lean in and accept their support or virtual shoulder to cry on.
Burnout seems to be inevitable too many people right now due to our current environment. But there are many steps you can take to avoid burnout when working from home. If you want to take away one thing from this post simply put yourself first. Don't worry about things you can't control and spend time focusing on what you need. It's not selfish its called self-care.
About the Author:
Grace Kasozi is the Founder of Kasozi Associates a platform dedicated to connecting women professional to women life, business, and career coaches to help close the gap. Grace has over 10 years of experience building well-known brands. She holds an MBA from the University of Minnesota and is currently a Global Brand Manager at large midwest CPG. She spends her free time traveling the world with her husband and 2-year-old son.