Needless to say, the effects of the 2020 pandemic are still being felt and remote work burnout has increased because of it. According to the World Health Organization, burnout is identified by three main factors, which include: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased feelings of negativism or cynicism related to work; and reduced professional will-power.
Over 75% of professionals are now experiencing burnout due to the challenges presented with the pandemic and working remotely. If you are experiencing increased irritability, frustration, anger, restlessness, chronic fatigue, physical stress (stomach issues, headaches, or body aches), or depression and anxiety, it is possible that you’re feeling symptoms of burnout and you are not alone.
It is important to become aware of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, to detect and overcome burnout before it negatively impacts your home and family life.
Here are five tips to overcome remote burnout before it is too late.
1. Practice mindfulness and mindfulness meditation.
Check in with yourself to see how you are feeling, both emotionally and physically. Set the tone for your day by beginning with meditation which can bring about both a feeling of calm, while equipping you to deal with stress as it arises. Meditation apps such as Calm or Headspace remind you to be present and to be still for a moment.
A five-minute body scan meditation can be beneficial for familiarizing yourself with the sensations in different parts of your body (think shoulders, then face, then hands, then back, etc.), to detect any pain or tension.
2. Set healthy boundaries for yourself.
This is a pinnacle of self-care, and while it may seem like a task, communicating your needs and setting healthy boundaries for yourself is essential for navigating overwhelm and warding off burnout. Where applicable, coordinate with your partner and family to set a schedule, and try where possible to stick with these arrangements.
It can be easy to let things go and to compromise your needs here and there, but the compounding effect is that of resentment, fatigue, and ultimately, burnout. Where children are concerned, sharing your plan with them for your alone-time might go a long way in them being mentally prepared to have you step away temporarily.
3. Take breaks.
Oftentimes, you may find yourself pummeling through the day, only to discover that hours have passed and you haven’t taken a break. A five-minute break is better than no break at all. However, a 15-30-minute break would be ideal. Use your break time to be “screen-free” to give yourself a chance to breathe and truly reset.
In fact, a break gives the part of your brain responsible for concentration, executive functioning, and decision-making (the prefrontal cortex or PFC) a chance to rest, allowing for more proficient execution of tasks or decision-making in the future.
4. Stretch and move.
The benefits of movement and exercise throughout the day include mood regulation, increased energy, focus, and productivity. Each person differs in what they can achieve movement-wise, so whether you go for a short walk, do a yoga practice, stretch at your desk or do a wall-sit and some push-ups, the key is to get the blood flowing through your body and to your brain. This will increase hormones such as norepinephrine and serotonin, which can decrease depression and anxiety while relieving tension and stress.
5. Schedule time for your hobbies.
Ensure that you are pouring back into yourself by doing the things that bring you joy. Carving out a little time for hobbies can be gratifying and can help to increase dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for motivation and focus. So, whether you choose to read a book, garden, listen to music, or dance around your house, focusing on something that you truly enjoy can help to elevate your feel-good state.
There is often the belief that there isn’t enough time to introduce the tools that would help to steer away burnout. However, ignoring the signs, especially during these times, almost guarantees that burnout will occur. Consistent self-care goes a long way in ensuring that normal stress does not become more detrimental to our health.
About the author: Ayanna Sealey is a mental performance coach who incorporates her unique experience as a Broadway performer and master’s in performance psychology to help artists, high-level executives, and athletes realize their potential and achieve peak performance. Having danced for over 30 years—training at the Alvin Ailey School in New York City and performing in Broadway musicals as a “triple-threat” dancer, actor, singer in Toronto, such as Disney’s “The Lion King”—Ayanna imparts her personal experience becoming a world-renowned performer, despite an on-going battle with Lymphedema, to help others actualize their own potential. Follow Ayanna on Instagram at @ayanna_sealey or learn more about her programs at www.ayannasealey.com.
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This story was originally published on January 11, 2021, and has since been updated.