The last year has put a lot of strain at people. Between the stress of a global pandemic, continued lock downs, working from home, taking care of relatives as well as people losing their jobs it’s a perfect storm when it comes to mental health. With the added stress on people who may be working from home and have an uncertain future, how can we avoid burnout at work?
Recognising Burnout in the First Place.
Most people can deal with stress over short periods of time, in fact a lot of sources claim that stress in the workplace can, in short bursts, be beneficial. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has now been with us for a year and between that and stresses at work, possible redundancies and working from home. Add in to this toxic mix a lot of people having to home school (as well as the added stresses of children being unable to do a lot of activities that they would normally be doing) and you have people getting stressed over extended periods of time and this could lead to possible burnout. But how do we recognise burnout in people? Well look out for some or all of these tell-tale symptoms:
- Feelings of detatchment
- Low self esteem
- Emotional as well as physical exhaustion
- a sense of cynicism and alienation
- Negative attitude
- General lethargy
What Can We Do to Alleviate Burnout?
There’s a lot we can do to help in alleviating burnout in ourselves or in family and friends once we recognise the symptoms.
Just Say No – It may be difficult to say no, when it comes to accepting additional work or responsibilities, especially at the moment if you are under pressure at work and want to appear as if you’re on top of everything.
However, adding to your own burden without first realising what your commitments are already or knowing that it means more pressure is a sure way to setting yourself up for burnout.
Learning to say no does not come naturally to some people but it’s is better than becoming overwhelmed. It may be easier to say no, in an email, if you are not keen on a face to face meeting on zoom or if you don’t want to say no at all then asking your boss for guidance on prioritising which work you should be concentrating on is one way of avoiding the no conversation as well as letting your boss know that if you take on the additional work, something will have to move down the list.
In fact looking at your priorities, not just at work, is another way in which you can reduce the amount of stress in a day. Taking a good look at things you are currently doing and seeing if there is anything you can cut back on is a good way of minimising the potential to burnout. If you are currently trying to juggle working and homeschooling then it may be possible to limit homeschooling to mornings (or whatever is suitable for you) and relying on a relative to help out (even if it’s on a zoom or Skype meeting with your children which works really well if they are unable to come to your house).
It Pays to Talk
As cliched as it sounds, talking things through with a loved one, a trusted friend or even your boss at work, will definitely help. With so much going on just now, it may be difficult for people to recognise that others are struggling, especially if they are struggling themselves. Simply letting them know that you are struggling, or at the very least, letting them know that you be appreciative of their help to lighten your load will help you. Even if they are unable to help with anything at the moment, the simple fact of them knowing may allow them to support you emotionally and maybe increase the phone calls to check in with your to see how you’re getting on.
Speaking to your boss, may not be as easy as chatting with a friend, however it will let them know that you may not be as productive as you might be. I know from my own work that with everything going on, cutbacks have been made to departments and personnel who have left (or who have been made redundant) are not being replaced so workloads are increasing for those who remain.
As we mentioned earlier asking for advice on prioritising any additional workloads or even asking about possible time off to recharge may be more of an indirect way of letting them know you need some help so it’s worth considering.
Take a Break from The “Norm”.
This may be just taking a day off work, getting some help with children or even just switching all those electronic devices off. I see a lot of people taking social media breaks at the moment and this is one way of switching off. Continued scrolling through posts can be addictive and is probably having a negative impact, so switching off, or stepping back for a few days is definitely a good idea.
Let friends and family know you’ll be “off-line” for a day or two. Then take the time and go and do something for yourself. It may be as simple as doing some gardening, trying a new hobby or binge watching that box set you’ve been meaning to watch for months.
It may not be possible to go away for a few days at present but just simply changing the scenery for a few hours works wonders. Try taking some time out and maybe going for a walk through a park or in the country for a change in pace. As well of a change in scenery this provides you with lots of fresh air, your exercise for the day and puts you back in touch with nature so all great for your body and mind.
As well as making time for exercise make sure that you are eating as healthy as possible and getting as much quality sleep as you can. Make sure you are not beating yourself up over the little stuff. Everyone is having their own struggles, more so than ever, as the effects of the pandemic drag on much longer than any of us could have anticipated but if we take care of ourselves, as well as each other and give each other as much slack as we need then we’ll get through this and be stronger for it when we get beyond it. If you are really struggling check this site out for some support and help HERE.
I hope you found this article useful. I know that it’s not a great time for so many people between one thing and another but I genuinely believe that if we help each other we’ll get through this. At the end of the day, be nice to everyone you meet, be helpful, even a smile will make a difference to a person’s day (sometimes difficult if you have a mask on I grant you!).
If you have any other advice for people here or want to let us know of your own experiences please feel free to add your input into the comments.