COVID-19 has brought major changes to our daily lives, with one of the biggest being the immediate shift to working from home for millions of Americans. It’s hard to deny the benefits of telecommuting, like answering emails in your pajamas and avoiding the interstate traffic. 

But when you’re at home, the boundaries between home life and work life can disappear, causing you to never really feel like you’re in either space. Add to that the uncertainty of a global health pandemic, a sudden lack of social connection, and having to care for children during the day, and you have a recipe for burnout.

Burnout occurs when you experience heightened levels of stress for an extended period of time, and it takes a major toll on your physical and mental health. The World Health Organization, which categorized the condition as an “occupational phenomenon” last year, lists burnout symptoms as: feelings of exhaustion, increased mental distance or negative feelings towards one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.

Here are some steps you can take to avoid burnout while working from home. 

Take Breaks

Working eight hours straight through can seem easier without the distractions of the office, but it can leave you mentally exhausted and emotionally drained. Don’t think you should have to be glued to your work just because you’re at home. Try to take multiple breaks throughout the day, and instead of surfing social media, try a zoom call with a friend or a walk outside to help you reset.

Maintain Your Schedule

It can be tempting to roll out of bed two minutes before you’re supposed to log in, but pretending you’re getting ready for a day at the office can help to get you into a productive mindset. Make a plan for what you’ll complete and when during the course of the day. If there are distractions that can’t be avoided, set expectations with your manager as to when you’ll be logged-on.

Set up Your Workspace

It’s a good idea to choose a dedicated workspace with minimal distractions, whether it’s a home office or a nook in the kitchen. Try to find somewhere separate from the places you associate with leisure time.

Get Some Exercise In

Your gym may be closed, but a socially-distanced walk around the block or a bike ride can help you stay energized through a long day. If you can’t dedicate a large chunk of time to it, small bursts of exercise can be just as effective. Virtual fitness options like apps and online videos can be great option for the colder months.

Keep Yourself Organized

As you’re wrapping up, make a to-do list for the following day. Calendar apps and other online productivity tools can you help you hit your deadlines, and storage bins can help you de-clutter your physical space. Distractions like children, spouses, and household chores may be inevitable, so keeping organized will help you easily pick up where you left off. 

Unplug During Non-Work Hours

A good work life balance is crucial for avoiding burnout, and there’s evidence that the “always on” culture does more harm than good in the workplace. Make sure you pick a consistent end time and avoid working into the night or on weekends. Resist the urge to check your email after hours. Also consider limiting your daily news and social media intake.

Reach Out for Help

If burnout is beginning to take a toll on your or your family’s well-being, it could be time to seek out support from a professional. Many health care providers have increased access to telehealth services during the pandemic, making it easier then ever to get the help you need. 

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.