Overcoming Pandemic Burnout
Our home is always our castle, but now it is much more than just a place to eat, sleep and live. Because of the pandemic, our home has also become an office, a classroom, and a gym. The pandemic has upended our daily lives and routines and blurred boundaries. As a result, many people are feeling burned out.
The Harvard Business Review surveyed nearly 1,500 people from 46 countries and found that the vast majority of people are struggling with their well-being. 85 percent of respondents said their general well-being has declined since the start of COVID-19, and 89 percent said their workplace well-being has declined. People noted mental health declines, difficulty meeting basic physical needs, feelings of loneliness and isolation, increased job demands, and growing disengagement at work, as some of the major factors that contributed to this change.
Signs of Burnout
The National Institutes of Health says common signs of burnout include:
- Feeling tired, exhausted or overwhelmed
- Lacking energy and feeling unmotivated
- Unable to meet daily demands or complete tasks
- Increased irritability and increased conflict in relationships
- Isolating or disconnecting from others, even virtually
- Reduced confidence
- Back aches
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
Burnout can negatively affect your work performance, make you less interested in things you once loved, and even put you at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, depression and suicide. If you are suffering from burnout it is important to address the problem, because if you don’t it will likely get worse.
Here are some tips to overcome pandemic burnout.
When you commute to work, there is a clear start time and end time. When you work from home, the boundaries between work and home life start to blur. Set a schedule and only work during designated hours -- even if you are working odd hours. If you check your work email around the clock, consider turning off notifications during your non-work hours, or removing your work email from your phone.
While you’re at it, set some boundaries in your personal life. If you’re the person friends and family always turn to in a crisis, it can drain any energy you have remaining. It’s okay to say no sometimes. If your calendar is full, cancelling or rescheduling some commitments may bring relief. If you’re stretched so thin that you have nothing left to give, you won’t be able to do any good for yourself or your friends and family.
It is important to take care of yourself. Take this metaphor as an example: Imagine you have a glass of water. Every time you help someone, you pour some of your water into their cup. If you don’t refill your cup, you will run out of water. If you let your emotional cup drain completely, you will have nothing left of yourself to give.
What can you do? Prioritize your basic needs -- eat healthy meals and stay hydrated, get a good night’s sleep, and dedicate time each day to exercise. Take some short, five-minute breaks throughout the day; taking a few deep breaths, meditating, or just soaking up some sun is enough to help you recharge. And do something you enjoy, such as reading a book, doing a puzzle, going for a walk or talking to a friend.
It’s okay to admit you’re not okay. This past year has been more stressful than any of us could have imagined. We’ve lost loved ones and jobs; there is financial uncertainty and food instability; adults are working and kids are learning from home. Life is not what it was before the pandemic, but help is available if you need it. Call a friend for support or schedule an appointment with a professional. Many therapists are offering virtual telehealth visits during the pandemic. You can find mental health treatment options near you by visiting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s website at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov or by calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
It takes time to fully recover from burnout. Once you recognize the warning signs, you can start making changes to your life and putting yourself on the path to recovery.
If you have the ability to go early in the morning, I think that’s the only way you’ll avoid a multi-hour wait. Arrived at 6:50AM (doors open at 8AM, by that time there were 60+ people in line) and I was the ~20th person camping out in line. Got in the door at 8:40AM. Waited for a few minutes in the waiting room while they took my information. Test itself was quick (
Courteous. Efficient. Competent.
I came in for a cut and they took care of me quickly. Place was very clean, too.
The last thing I wanted to do was go into a medical facility right now. I very much appreciated how professional yet human they were. Thanks to Tara and the whole team there. Doing a great job.