In today’s era of the pandemic, working from home has become the norm. Everyone is sitting on their desks (and some of us on our beds!), bent over their laptops, slaving over that file to submit, or that assignment to hand in. It is often seen that people assume that those of us who are working from the comfort of our homes aren’t really working. What people fail to understand is that the amount of work that we are performing is equivalent, or sometimes even more than we would perform in the physical space!
Under such conditions, it is easy to face severe burnout from taking on too much work, or staring at our laptops for too long, or coordinating with our teams scattered across the country. The social interaction that would otherwise keep us going is also absent under such conditions. Therefore, it is important for us to notice the signs that we are in fact burning out, as well as take sturdy measures to counter the effect of the same.
Let us begin by briefly explaining what Burnout really is. Burnout is a state where a person is exhausted not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. This usually occurs when we are constantly trying to meet the demands that life puts on us. Working from home provides situations where the occurrence of burnout can be frequent and hard to deal with.
Here are a few ways that you can notice that you are nearing burnout while working from home:
Sometimes, being overworked has the direct effect of bringing about a constant feeling of exhaustion. We aren’t able to relax and simply be because of the constant concerns about pending work. Working beyond our physical and mental capacities is something most of us do unknowingly. It is important to recognize that these limits exist and that they are to be respected. Disinterest and apathy in our work can be easily seen when we are on the verge of burning out, as the negative stimuli that the work arises a sense of repulsion. When this happens, we refrain from our regular exercise, or skip meals or maybe ignore calls from friends, because we are just too exhausted to do so. This, in turn, tends to mess with our social and personal lives. Often, people become cynical at the workplace and overly critical of the work of others.
When we near burnout, it is usually because of working beyond our physiological capacities. Taking on more than we can deal with or simply being tasked with lengthy assignments can bring about a sense of monotony. Once this sense of repetition and downright bore sets in, our performance in our tasks is bound to decline. We lose the passion that we once held for the job and do not perform actively at it. This causes a steady fall in our quality of work, as we are working simply for the sake of work. There is no passion, commitment or enthusiasm. The inability to cope with the pressures of regular work is bound to cause the output of the individual to suffer. We also find it difficult to cooperate with coworkers and superiors when we are nearing burnout, and this might lead to altercations and further stress from employment.
Avoiding regular work is an apparent symptom of Burnout. Logically, the activity that causes you mental and physical anguish is one that you will obviously avoid. Similarly, during burnout, the work that has caused burnout is avoided like the plague! This could include things like overt procrastination of work, avoiding important business calls, and not attending those pesky Zoom calls (we’ve all been there)! Distancing oneself from the work environment in these trying times might seem normal, but it is a direct symptom that we may be close to burning out.
These few basic symptoms are signs that you should actively look inward and make sure to notice the signals of your physiology. An accurate evaluation of the self when most of us are working from home is important, if not necessary. We’re sure that most of us who currently work from home have faced a certain degree of stress, and that many of us are nearing burnout without the slightest idea of the same. Working from home is terribly stressful. Staring at the same laptop for hours on end, sitting hunched over the screen, tapping away at our keys, with minimal social and natural interaction. The mind tends to stagnate, and burnout sets are easily from all the work that we take on. It is easy to assume that working from home does not entail as much effort as working physically, but the toll that it takes on the mind is often ignored.
Now, on to the part where we try and battle the effects of Burnout!
Here are 4 Simple Ways for you to counter the effects of Burnout and find your motivation!
Learning to Set Boundaries:
Many a time, we feel obligated to take on more work than we can handle, either to please a superior or to prove ourselves. But, working from home blurs the boundaries that we usually set for ourselves. In such situations, let’s work towards re-establishing these boundaries. Understanding that these boundaries are important, is key to preventing eventual burnout. Let’s say that you decide that we will not take work-related calls post 6 p.m. We must strive to maintain this unless an emergency arises. We should attempt to let our colleagues know that we will not do whatever is asked of us and that we are not available all the time. Learning to take on only as much work as we can handle can be a delicate task, but all of it is worth our mental health.
Taking Time Out for Ourselves:
In the midst of our busy work life, we sometimes forget to dedicate as much time to ourselves as we do to our work. We understand that it is terribly difficult to find the time and motivation to care for ourselves, but this is the time that we must strive to find. Dedicate at least one day in the week to self-care, a day when you do not think about work at all. One day of the week when your colleagues know that you are not accessible. If possible, find an hour every day, where you perform an activity that you love. Do it not because you are obligated, nor because it’s productive, but do it simply because it makes you happy.
Good Food and Enough Sleep:
Two of the most basic needs of the human body are nutrition and rest. Yet, most of us tend to ignore both! While stressing over work, we tend to eat unhealthy, oily and salty foods. Also, in order to complete work, we stay up late at night and do not allow our body to get the rest it deserves. Remember, that burnout is as much a physical condition as it is mental. Providing the body with warm, nutritious and healthy food is equal to providing an automobile with fuel - we need it to function. Understanding how much sleep our body requires is also essential. It is recommended that we sleep around 7 to 8 hours a day. So get under those covers!
Striving for Harmony:
Most of us are looking for the perfect balance between our work life and our personal life. This sometimes leads to more stress from the desperate attempts to find the delicate equilibrium that we all want! Instead, what we could pursue is harmony. Striving for a harmonious relationship between our work and personal life, and finding ways in which they complement each other would improve the situation greatly. An ideal situation arises when we are able to achieve such harmony, and it also greatly reduces the possibility of burnout.
The body and mind have their easy to give us signals regarding what they need; we need only to listen. Let us work towards paying closer attention to our physiological wellbeing, and understand its limits and needs!