WFH Warriors! Here’s Your Guide to Prevent Work From Home Burnout
If you’ve been a remote worker since the COVID-19 pandemic or if you’ve transitioned to working from home recently, then you might not be a stranger to how alienating and stressful the WFH realm could be. In this realm, our commute involves moving from the bedroom to the office – and if you’re lazy then the bedroom becomes your home office – and where the dress code is as casual as your nighttime PJs.
Working from home since the 2020 pandemic has become the new norm, offering the promise and luxury of working from your favorite place in the world buried amongst comfort and flexibility. But amid the convenience of WFH, there’s still the adversary we need to face – work-from-home burnout.
Working from home might be a dream come true for many, but it doesn’t come without its set of challenges. So, let’s embark on a journey to understand work from home burnout and the strategies you can deploy to prevent WFH burnout.
Go grab your coffee mug, sit in your comfiest chair, and read on to understand how you can prevent work from home burnout like a pro!
Job Burnout: An Overview
Before I take you to the nitty-gritty of WFH burnout, I would like to take some time to help you understand what job burnout entails. When you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted – more often than not caused by prolonged and unaddressed stress – that’s when burnout begins.
It can creep up in the dark of the night until then suddenly you’re questioning whether your job is draining your life force.
So, What is Work From Home Burnout?
Work from home burnout is a state of physical, mental, and physical exhaustion that comes from the challenges you face as a remote worker. It’s when the lines between work and life blur, leading you to feel overwhelmed, fatigued, and dissatisfied with your job. WFH burnout can come from prolonged stress, social isolation, overworking, unclear boundaries, lack of routine, poor resources and support, and general burnout symptoms.
Work From Home Burnout Symptoms to Look Out For
For remote workers, the burnout symptoms can be sneakier. You might start feeling detached from your work, have poor concentration, and experience frequent mood swings. These are just some of the common symptoms of burnout. Other common work from home burnout symptoms can include;
Emotional symptoms such as;
- Feeling persistently tired
- Lacking energy
- Decreased productivity
- Increased irritability
- Experiencing a sense of cynicism and negative thoughts
- Poor concentration
- Brain fog
Physical symptoms such as;
- Muscle tension
- Stomach issues
- Trouble falling asleep
- Social withdrawal
Behavioral symptoms such as;
- Job dissatisfaction
- Lack of motivation
- Increased absenteeism
- Consuming excessive caffeine
- Alcohol consumption
- Substance abuse
Burnout in Remote Workers Looks Like This!
Working from home can be comfortable and flexible, but it comes with a unique side of flavor. I mean, your living room is your meeting room, your bedroom is your work desk, and your kitchen is where you take frequent breaks. This behavior can blur the boundaries between work and life, leading to a super unstable work-life balance.
Humans are social creatures and we thrive in social situations whether we like it or not. So, when you go a long time without any in-person interaction, it can lead to loneliness and detachment.
Remote work also relies a lot on digital communication, so sometimes the burnout can manifest as a constant feeling of being “plugged in”. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, you might even begin to feel lonely. Not only loneliness but working from home can decrease your productivity as you get little to no brainstorming done. I mean, how long can you bounce ideas off of your own?
After a while of WFH, you might even begin to see a decline in your mental health. Remote workers have a higher chance of experiencing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression as they are expected to juggle work demands and home life without separating the two.
And let’s face it; we all need a constant routine to keep us in line. With little to no constant routine, it might become even more difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. You might even start to neglect self-care and make time for hobbies.
How to Deal With Work from Home Burnout?
Now, how to deal with work from home burnout like a pro? Here are some tips for you;
1. Separate your workspace
Designate a specific area in your home for work. Avoid working from your bed. This will help you “separate” your work and relax area, at least in your mind. When you’re done for the day, leave your workspace to signal the end of the day, the end of work.
2. Keep a schedule
Set working hours and break hours just like you would in your office. This will help you maintain a clear distance between work and your personal life. This will also give you a chance to “unplug” from your work at the end of the day.
3. Dress to impress
Even if you’re working from home, dress like you’re going to the office. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to ditch the PJs and sweatshirts. When you dress to impress aka dress for work, you can easily see a boost in your motivation and productivity.
4. Don’t stay isolated
Working from home can become too lonely if you stay cooped up in your home. Make an effort to connect with your coworkers through video calls, and chats, or even decide on meeting up somewhere out to keep the connection going.
5. Take breaks
Because of work from home, it’s easy to assume that you’re always available for work calls. To keep yourself from burning out, take short breaks throughout the day to keep yourself recharged. You can go take a walk around the block, go for some coffee, exercise, or just listen to music.
6. Boundaries are important
Especially if you’re a remote worker! Communicate to your friends and family your working hours and break times. This will help distractions during work hours and help you stay on your tasks throughout the day without losing focus.
7. Avoid too much screen time
To deal with work from home burnout, you can try to reduce unnecessary distractions and digital clutter. Mute all non-work-related notifications when you’re working to avoid distractions that come in the disguise of social media and mute work-related notifications after work hours so that your personal life doesn’t mix with your work life.
8. Don’t neglect self-care
Even if you stay at home all the time, don’t neglect self-care. Make time for hobbies after work, exercise before or after work, and relaxation whenever possible. Self-care is important when it comes to managing your emotional, physical, and mental health so don’t ignore that.
9. Say “NO” when possible
If you’re working from home, then people assume that you’re always available for them and keep piling work after work on you. Learn to say “NO”. Don’t overwork yourself or overcommit yourself when you can’t. It’s OK to say “NO” to extra responsibilities if you’re feeling overworked or overwhelmed.
10. Seek professional support
If the symptoms of your work-from-home burnout stay and persist, then you can talk to your superior about your symptoms and ask for extra help or you can reach out to a professional mental health therapist to get help for the symptoms. You don’t have to suffer in silence. If you feel burnout, talk about it to someone you trust and feel comfortable around.
Work from home burnout is as valid and real as any other condition. With the right strategies and help, you can keep yourself sane and your work life and personal life balanced. Your home office doesn’t have to be a prison or a headache. With a few adjustments, you can make your WFH a place of productivity and balance.
I hope this blog will help you find the right tips to deal with work from home burnout. Let me know what you think about this article in the comments below.
Take Care and Carry On!