10 Ways to Avoid Burnout When Working from Home
Working from home can be a blessing and a curse. Whilst a short commute from bed to desk is a bonus, it becomes all too easy for the boundaries between work and personal life to become blurred. Having 24/7 access to your work equipment can mean shorter lunchbreaks, working later and even putting in hours at the weekend. With many people having lost their jobs recently, the pressure to perform has never been higher for employees.
A study from the Health and Safety Executive revealed that, in 2020, 828,000 workers were suffering with new or long-standing stress, depression, or anxiety. It is no surprise considering the lifestyle changes forced by COVID. One of the biggest issues faced by employees is dubbed by psychologists as ‘pandemic burnout’. Research from Ipsos Mori revealed that 60% of people in the UK are finding it harder to stay positive day in, day out.
So, what can those working from home do? Before we reveal our top 10 ways to avoid burnout, we need to understand where it comes from and how to recognise it.
1. What is Burnout
Burnout is acknowledged by the NHS as a form of stress. If you are in a state of burnout you may find you are emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted. Burnout can affect anyone and will typically occur when an individual feels overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands.
Everyone has different burnout triggers, and it is often a mix of different stresses that lead to a breakdown in personal wellbeing. Some stress triggers are:
- Lack of work life balance
- Unmanageable workload
- Lack of communication and feedback
- Time and deadline pressures
- Unattainable performance pressure
- Fear of job loss
2. What are the most common burnout symptoms?
Unless you have experienced burnout before it can be hard to determine if you’re struggling. Furthermore, because work-related stress is on a sliding scale and everyone has different tolerances, there is no cookie-cutter approach to burnout.
If you are feeling any of the following, or notice the following from a colleague, they could be burning out:
- Daily headaches and stomach aches
- Panic attacks
- Reduced performance
- Change in sleeping habits
- Tearfulness and increased emotions
- Feelings of dread or anger towards work
- Lack of concentration or creativity
- Withdrawing from colleagues
- Increased tiredness and irritability
Burnout shares may symptoms with mental health issues, such as depression. It is not uncommon for burnout to coincide with depression or anxiety. If you are experiencing burnout along with any other mental health issue, please book an appointment with your GP.
3. How do you know if you are working too much
If you experience any of the symptoms above, or are generally under the weather, it could be a sign that you’re working too hard. If you feel as if everyday is a bad day, you lack energy, or you feel like nothing you do is appreciated you could be on your way to burnout.
Experiencing burnout can feel like a serious lack of control. However, there are positive steps you can take to deal with the situation and start returning to a healthier way of working. The 10 tips below can help you regain energy, focus and a sense of wellbeing.
1. Talk to your boss and colleaugues
Opening up to senior staff and workplace friends you trust is a fantastic first step to take when it comes to burnout. It is extremely healthy to confide in your colleagues and, more often than not, it helps bosses understand areas where staff need help. If you’re being given too much work, express this, chances are there are other employees who feel exactly the same and your bosses can rectify this by bringing on a new starter. Open and honest conversations will help encourage the changes you need for a happier time at work.
2. Take time off
There is no shame in removing yourself from an unhealthy situation. Whilst people may argue that working from home is easy, this doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to recharge your batteries and recover from burnout. Take sick days or book some annual leave to aid your recovery.
3. Introduce boundaries
Learning to say ‘no’ is difficult but it can help combat burnout. Don’t take on too much and ensure you work your set hours; no overtime or working weekends. Your work life balance should be no different than it is if you were in your normal workplace.
4. Boost your mood with exercise
Not only does exercise improve your physical health, but the endorphins released through exercise can benefit your mental wellbeing too. Taking a short walk on your lunch break or working out for 20 minutes once you clock off can increase your happiness and energy, as well as sharpen your focus whilst relaxing your mind.
5. Fuel your body correctly
Just like putting the wrong fuel in a car, eating badly can have an impact on your mood and energy levels. If you’re struggling with burnout then addressing your diet can help lay a solid foundation for improving your stress levels. Try minimising sugar and carbohydrate consumption and introduce whole foods and omega-3 fatty acids to boost your mood.
6. Create an organised home office
A tidy workspace encourages a tidy mind, and you may find you are more productive when organised. Your home office should promote a healthy work mindset, with an ergonomic setup and plenty of storage to help you work efficiently every day.
7. Rejuvenate value in your role
When you are burnout it can be easy to feel unappreciated. You may also feel like you don’t deserve your job. Try to recognise your value by focusing on how your role helps your colleagues. Even if a task is mundane focus on how beneficial it will be to others.
8. Get enough sleep
Feeling tired can exacerbate burnout symptoms as you tend to think irrationally when exhausted. Your productivity at work will likely be affected too. Having enough sleep is incredibly important to switch off long before bedtime.
9. Socialise with your colleagues
Having an internal support network at work is important. Feeling lonely is a real side effect of working from home that can make burnout worse. Spend time everyday reaching out to your colleagues when you need a break and consider spending time with them outside of work to strengthen relationships.
10. Do more of what makes you happy
If your job is making you unhappy try and indulge in things that bring you joy. Burnout can be easier to deal with when you’re doing more of what you love. This can include spending time with family and friends, pursuing a hobby, or simply watching a feelgood movie with your favourite meal.
How can I work from home without burning out?
1 in 4 people experience a mental health issue every year. Due to the pandemic and increased necessity to work from home, remote working has become the new normal. Whilst it has its advantages, for many people it can be difficult.
Looking after yourself is paramount when dealing with burnout, however this can be challenging when in the throes of the issue itself. Adopting the ideas above can help you begin to enjoy your work again. But remember, communication with those you work with is key and they will be able to support you too.
Burnout is serious and you should not struggle alone. If you feel like extra support would be beneficial reach out to your GP. Alternatively, there are a number of resources in the UK available to you:
- 0300 123 3392
- 0800 58 58 58