Are you feeling exhausted and stressed? Are you finding it hard to focus or complete your work? You may be experiencing signs of burnout. Burnout is a serious condition that can lead to long-term health problems if not addressed. It’s essential to identify burnout symptoms early and take steps to avoid it.
By understanding what burnout is, why it’s essential to avoid it, and how to address your symptoms, you can better protect your health while enjoying the benefits of working remotely.
What is burnout?
People these days seem busier than ever. You might find yourself overworked more often than not, trying to keep up with work, chores, and home life. It’s no wonder more people are at risk of burnout than ever before.
Burnout isn’t just feeling tired or stressed; it’s a specific set of symptoms that result from excessive and prolonged stress. When you experience burnout, you feel completely drained, exhausted, and lack energy and vigour for life—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Burnout symptoms to look out for
Feelings of depression, detachment, apathy, lack of self-worth & productivity, and social withdrawal are characteristic burnout symptoms. But there are many other symptoms you might experience, including:
- the increased use of caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol
- irritability and lack of patience
- nervousness and anxiety
- sleep problems
- persistent anger or frustration
- overwhelming feelings of sadness
- negative thoughts about yourself and others
- feel emotionally drained and exhausted
- procrastinate or have trouble concentrating on work tasks
- feel tired in the morning and struggling to find energy for your day
It’s crucial to identify the symptoms early and take steps towards recovery before burnout takes hold—and you find yourself unable to cope with your day-to-day responsibilities.
Why is burnout so essential to avoid?
Everyday life brings its fair share of challenges, but it’s essential to know how to manage them effectively. If you don’t have the right coping skills or support mechanisms in place, you can begin experiencing burnout. When burnout is left untreated, it can have profound health implications, such as depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, or heart disease.
How does burnout impact mental health?
When you feel overwhelmed by stress, you start looking for ways to relieve that pressure. You might try turning off your phone, putting away your laptop at the end of the day, or scheduling a massage. All these actions help your body recover from burnout by lowering your cortisol levels and blood pressure. However, it would help if you had more time to relax and get plenty of sleep—something many people find difficult when working long hours.
How does burnout impact physical health?
Sometimes people who experience burnout lose interest in their appearance and personal hygiene, which only adds to feelings of depression and loneliness. Burnout symptoms can affect digestion and exacerbate existing food sensitivities, leading to weight gain (for some) or preventing weight loss (in others). A serious consequence of burnout that may seem surprising at first is its impact on immune health; when you’re feeling run-down, it’s more difficult to avoid getting sick.
How to minimize burnout while working remotely
Four ways to reduce burnout while working from home include:
- Setting realistic goals
- Eliminating burning the midnight oil when you don’t have to
- Limiting overdue tasks and unimportant emails
- Making time for self-care
Reduce burnout risk by setting realistic goals.
If you’re constantly pushing yourself to complete more tasks in less time, you’ll burn out quickly. Try using a timer while working on projects or tasks to keep track of your working time. For example, set your timer for 45 minutes, then take a 15-minute break; start another work session after the break. By breaking up your work cycles, you limit burnout and improve your productivity.
You can also set specific deadlines for yourself instead of working on projects until the last minute. For example, if you have a 4 p.m. deadline, break up your work into intervals that end before the deadline to give yourself enough time to complete activities without getting stressed out.
Ultimately, you avoid burnout by staying aware of your work habits and taking steps to make improvements as needed. Being conscious of your work style and goals will help you set boundaries in the future, so burnout doesn’t happen again.
Eliminate burning the midnight oil.
Avoid burnout while working remotely by not overcommitting yourself.
It can be easy to schedule meetings, calls, and tasks with no breaks in between when you work from home. Before you know it, you’re putting in 14-hour days without realizing the time. Allow yourself time to go outside, connect with friends and family, and take regular breaks throughout the day instead of pushing through until burnout sets in.
Try planning your day around specific work hours and taking breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout. Block off time for errands, exercising, cooking meals—anything that keeps you engaged in life outside of work.
Make it clear what your availability is outside of your set work hours. Avoid doing work after hours so that you have time to relax and unwind before going to bed.
Limit overdue tasks and unimportant emails.
If you find yourself struggling to keep up with your daily tasks, you may be focusing on too many things at once and neglecting other important areas of your life. Each day, check your to-do list and prioritize the most critical tasks. You can also try setting aside a few minutes each day to clear out unnecessary emails from your inbox, so you don’t feel overwhelmed with requests and notifications.
Also, don’t feel guilty about turning down lower priority requests; you’ll burn out quickly if you try doing it all.
Make time for self-care.
If burnout is a regular occurrence in your life, it’s not just affecting you physically—it’s also affecting your emotional well-being. Instead of avoiding burnout by pushing yourself harder, make time for self-care to recharge and re-energize your mind and body.
Some examples include:
- Getting enough sleep each night
- Eating nutritious meals and snacks
- Taking a break from work
- Working out regularly
- Spending time with loved ones
- Spending time doing something you enjoy
- Talking to a therapist
The truth is, burnout is often caused by not setting boundaries between work and personal life. Taking care of yourself can help ease burnout pain and restore your energy levels so that you feel better equipped to handle whatever comes your way next week, next month, or even tomorrow morning.
How your company can support you and minimize burnout risk
Remember, burnout is chronic stress due to long-term exposure to challenging situations at work or home. If you’re experiencing burnout, take time off—or even better, ask for help. Your company should explore options to support you so that burnout doesn’t become a regular occurrence.
Some ways your company can help you include:
- Setting clear company expectations
- Encouraging flexible hours, allowing you to complete work during the most productive times of the day
- Offering access to the tools you need to do your job
- Providing access to resources such as therapy or stress management courses
- Offering wellness initiatives such as lunch and learn sessions to maintain healthy lifestyles.
If burnout symptoms affect your work-from-home experience, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You have a right to live a healthier lifestyle, and doing so will improve your quality of life.
Take the next step to reduce burnout symptoms
The best way to avoid burnout is to adopt a balanced lifestyle that includes time outside of your home office, regular breaks throughout the day, and self-care. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your company about initiatives such as flexible hours and wellness programs to help reduce your risk of burnout.
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