The Best Ways to Combat Winter Burnout When Working from Home
If you work from home, you’ll likely already be aware of the risk of burnout that comes from working too much and having an uneven work life balance. As winter brings shorter days and colder weather, you could find burnout symptoms are amplified. You could even find yourself susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), with a lack of sunshine and opportunities to go outside.
However, there’s plenty that can be done to combat winter burnout when remote working in the coming months. The following tips can help you to improve work life balance this winter.
Adjust Your Routine
The first thing you should do when the days become shorter is look at your daily routine to see where it can be improved to make the most of daylight hours. It might be that you can speak to your employer and team and implement flexible working hours, so you can make sure you’ve got plenty of time to spend outside whilst also fitting in your work.
If you usually go for a walk or a run after work, you might want to skip this if you don’t want to go outside in the dark. Instead, reschedule your outside exercise for your lunch break or before work, so you can still get out in the daylight and don’t have to sacrifice your exercise time. However, you should make sure that just because you’re not going out to exercise after work, you don’t carry on working until the evening. Find a new activity for the end of the day so you don’t work too late, like taking a bath or cooking dinner.
Take Regular Breaks
The simplest way to help avoid work from home burnout is to make sure you’re taking plenty of breaks throughout the day. You should set yourself reminders, so you remember to take them even if you feel like you have a lot of work to deal with. By taking five or 10 minutes to step away from your workstation, you’ll find you can come back feeling recharged and ready to take on your tasks.
You should make sure your breaks are really an opportunity for you to relax and reset, whether you take the opportunity to go for a walk around the block or sit outside with a warm cup of coffee to get some fresh air and spend some time in the daylight. You could also combine your breaks with exercises to improve posture, like desk exercise and stretches which can ease back and neck pain.
You could enlist the help of a colleague or friend who is also working from home and keep each other accountable for taking your breaks throughout the day. You’ll find that your personal productivity will be vastly improved, plus you can help combat work from home stress.
Exercise is vital to avoiding burnout symptoms and SAD symptoms, as it will result in your body producing endorphins and hormones that can boost your mood. You should aim to exercise outside as much as possible, even if the weather isn’t great. If you’re wrapped up warm and dry, even a 10 minute walk can help you to reset and feel better.
If you really don’t fancy going outside in the cold or rain, you should make time for indoor exercise, like yoga or fitness classes. Going to the gym after work can be a good way of making sure you get out of the house and can also give you an opportunity to socialise with people if you’ve been working on your own throughout the day. Alternatively, you could schedule your exercise in the morning before you start work – exercising first thing can really help you feel energised and motivated for the rest of the day.
Focus On Nutrition
If you’re feeling low or stressed, you might be tempted to snack on unhealthy foods that are high in sugar. But these will only give you a temporary respite and will ultimately leave you feeling worse and more fatigued. Instead, you should look for healthy snacks like fresh fruit to keep you energised. You should make sure your meals are well-balanced so you’re getting all the nutrients and vitamins that your body needs to function properly.
If you’re suffering from SAD during winter, you might find yourself craving carbohydrates, especially in the evening. So, you should aim to get plenty of healthy carbohydrates in your dinner, like brown rice and lentils, rather than too many unhealthy carbs that will reduce your energy levels. Oily fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids has also been known to reduce symptoms of SAD, so you should make sure to get plenty of fish into your diet too.
By implementing a healthy work from home diet, you can make sure you’re properly energised and motivated throughout the day. You should also aim to make time to cook healthy meals, as this can give you a reason to step away from your desk and take a break from work.
Make Sure to Use Your Annual Leave
The more you work, the more prone you’ll be to experiencing burnout - so, make sure to schedule some days off work. By using your annual leave, you can make sure that you can completely switch off and take some time away from work. You should make sure that you don’t check emails during your time off and communicate to your team in advance that you won’t be contactable on those dates.
You could use the time to explore your local area or even find some winter sun by going abroad. Whilst you might think it’s better to save your holiday days for the summer months, taking a few days off in the winter can be a great way to let you relax and recharge.
Keep Social Connections
It’s important when remote working to keep social connections. This can be with your colleagues but also in your personal life. It might be difficult throughout the winter to keep motivated to go out and meet friends, but you should make sure to maintain social relationships, so you don’t feel isolated. It can also give you a reason to stop working and checking your emails, especially if you’re inclined to do so on weekends.
You should also check in with your fellow colleagues, either in-person or virtually. You could use one of your breaks to call a colleague for a communal coffee break and catch-up. Burnout can sometimes make you feel more lonely, especially if you’re working from home by yourself. But by keeping plenty of human interaction, you can be assured that you’re not alone.
Ask for Help
If you’re really feeling the strain of burnout, you should look for support. Speak to your manager about your workload to see if some tasks can be redistributed so what you have is more manageable. Your employer will want to ensure your health and wellbeing at work are being looked after, so work with them to find the best solution.
If you’re really feeling low, you should seek professional help. Your doctor will be able to help you find the right treatment, whether that’s lifestyle changes that we’ve mentioned or some form of talking therapy.
At Leitz, we know that a healthy work life balance is key to avoiding burnout and looking after your wellbeing working from home, and our WorkLeitzBalance resources provide a wealth of information so you can do just that. We also have work from home ideas for your home office, so you can keep a healthy separation between your work and personal life.