Learn how to overcome work from home burnout with these tips from Virtual Vocations.

10 Tips to Prevent Work from Home Burnout

Working from home has its benefits and challenges. However, working from home during a pandemic is an entirely different animal. For both long-time and new remote workers, burnout is something to watch out for. And thanks to COVID, the usual activities we rely on to avoid suffering from work from home burnout may have to be slightly modified.

So, what can remote workers do? Due to the lifestyle changes forced by COVID, everyone must get creative. This includes work from home professionals, freelancers, digital nomads, independent contractors, managers, and employers. This doesn’t mean eliminating the tried and true tactics used to avoid burnout. Some activities are more vital than ever. But to solve the problem, you must understand where it comes from and how to recognize it.

Work From Home Burnout Statistics

How commonplace is work from home burnout for remote workers? While remote work can eliminate workplace stressors, virtual professionals must strive to prioritize their well-being and establish a work-life balance. Without doing so, burnout quickly follows. According to an Eagle Hill Consulting survey conducted in August 2020, 58% of workers said they were burned out, with only one in three individuals indicating that the cause was directly related to the pandemic.

What are some of the main causes that can lead to job burnout? According to the August 2020 survey:

  • 47% said it was due to workload
  • 39% stated it was their failure to manage both their professional and personal lives effectively
  • 37% claimed it was due to communication and feedback issues in the workplace
  • 30% said because of time or deadline pressures
  • 28% said it was due to performance expectations

Work From Home Burnout Symptoms

Because long-time job-related stress causes work from home burnout, usually the first people to notice that something may be wrong are colleagues, managers, or family. With full-time remote work becoming “the new normal,” the isolation can make burnout symptoms even harder to recognize. In addition, remote workers living on their own may have a tougher time spotting the early signs of burnout.

So, what are the telltale signs that you might be headed towards job burnout? Burnout can manifest itself via physical or emotional changes. Do the following quick assessment:

  • Are you suffering from physical symptoms such as indigestion, heart palpitations, or headaches?
  • How is your job performance? Has your productivity been affected lately?
  • Are you having difficulty focusing or experiencing frequent forgetfulness?
  • Do you have cynical or negative feelings about your job?
  • Are you unmotivated, lazy, or suffering from chronic fatigue?
  • Are you more irritable or short-tempered?
  • Has your sleep routine changed? Are you suffering from insomnia or sleeping more than usual?
  • Are you experiencing anxiety or depression?
  • Has anyone else in your life made comments about any changes in your mood?

Recognize any of these changes in your everyday life? Consider the following tips to help mitigate the effects of impending burnout.

Work From Home Burnout Relief Tips

If you find yourself suffering from work from home burnout, you still have several methods to right the proverbial ship. By adhering to these principles, you can become more cognizant of your symptoms and strive to overcome them.

1. Boundaries Are a Remote Worker’s Best Friend

Data has shown that employees who mainly work from home tend to work longer hours than in-office workers. COVID-related stay-at-home orders and lockdowns have not helped the situation either. A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research states that the average workday lengthened by around 48 minutes since the start of the pandemic.

A clear separation between business and personal hours is vital. Ensure that quality time with family or personal time is not interrupted by emails, phone calls, video meetings, or unfinished projects. Unless workers are proactive to establish strict boundaries between work and home time, telecommuting can easily blur the lines. The daily commute may be gone, but that doesn’t mean remote workers automatically tend to hit the pause button on their work.

Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Set a start and end time for your workday. Consider adding your business hours availability on the signature line of your email.

2. Strive To Maintain A Social Connection

Pre-pandemic, one of the most effective ways that work from home professionals could maintain their social connections was by actually leaving home. Meeting with friends for a quick lunch or coffee date, taking an in-person class, or networking with other professionals helps remote workers maintain their social networks when not working onsite.

But with COVID making most face-to-face interactions all but gone, remote workers must find alternate ways to connect. Virtual meetings and outdoor interactions while still wearing masks and physical distancing are paramount to combating the natural isolation of working from home.

Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Make a conscious effort to stay in touch with loved ones. Join virtual book clubs, synchronous Netflix viewing parties, or networking events via Zoom. If you feel comfortable and maintain social distancing/mask-wearing, consider joining a small outdoors-related gathering with members of your closed social bubble. They may be six feet away from you, but the social benefits remain.

3. Give Yourself A Break

With a cozy home office and no commute, your first instinct may be to take advantage of the extra time by attempting to be super productive. This is also the fastest way to suffer from work from home burnout.

Adding unnecessary pressure will undoubtedly backfire. “Hustle culture” is popular online, and everyone wants to do more with all this new time on their hands. But now is not the time to make drastic life changes, especially if you already feel overwhelmed at work or have too much going on at home.

Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Be gentle with yourself. Know your limits and work with what you can realistically manage.

4. Make Self-Care A Priority

Self-care is a commonly heard buzz word this year, but what exactly does it mean? Well, it varies from person to person. For some people, self-care means shutting out all the negative noise and engaging in a positive activity that brings you happiness and peace. Some examples of self-care include:

  • Reading a good book
  • Taking a bubble bath
  • Playing with your beloved pet
  • Watching a funny movie
  • Taking a nap or siesta
  • Dancing to your favorite songs
  • Meditating, stretching, or exercising
  • Cooking or baking a yummy treat
  • Playing the latest video game
  • Working on a hobby you’ve been too busy to enjoy
Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Stop working all the time and treat yourself. Do something fun. You deserve it.

5. Communicate With Your Boss and Colleagues

Lack of communication is a huge factor in workplace stress. Although workers are more connected than ever, there’s nothing like a quick phone call or email. Staying in touch with colleagues can alleviate any isolation that can arise while working remotely. Furthermore, checking in with your boss can lessen any stress regarding work expectations, deadlines, or productivity. Don’t wait until you feel cut off from the rest of the group to act.

Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Although the physical watercooler is gone, take some time to indulge in casual conversation with colleagues or send each other funny memes to ease your stress.

6. Establish a Daily Routine (with Breaks!)

Having a regular morning routine and firm wake-up time organizes your day and gets you into the right mindset. Set up a designated workspace. This way, when your workday is over, you can “leave” work and decompress somewhere else in your home. Try to maintain specific work hours and limit any work tasks that may bleed into your personal time.

If you can set your own schedule and work at your own pace, remember to set time aside for regular breaks. Just because you work remotely doesn’t mean you have to work continuously at your desk.

Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Use the “Pomodoro Technique” or other relaxation techniques to schedule pre-determined breaks in between your most productive work-sprints.

7. Get Physical To Improve Your Mood

A great way to relieve stress is by adding physical activity to your daily routine. Work from home professionals must include some form of exercise since it’s simply not healthy to be sedentary all day while staring at the same four walls. Getting some fresh air also helps mitigate cabin fever. Walking is a great low impact way to get your blood pumping while giving your mind a break. If the weather does not cooperate, at the very least, working out to an exercise video and doing resistance training with fitness bands will do.

It’s necessary to ensure you are staying safe and following any local guidelines regarding quarantine or stay-at-home orders during these unprecedented times. Although indoor gyms and fitness centers may be closed, there are still some things you can do to break a sweat. Some local parks may have bootcamp-style fitness classes or outdoor yoga sessions. A few quick speed-walking laps around a track or a bike ride through a wooded area can also burn calories. Or even just a stroll around your neighborhood can help clear out any mental cobwebs.

Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Get up and go for a hike or take your dog out to a pet-friendly park while making sure you are social distancing.

8. Eliminate Artificial Boosters or Crutches

Yes, coffee is delicious. So is a soda or ice cream sugar-high. But if you are overdoing it with the lattes, teas, sugar, or energy drinks, remember that what goes up must eventually come down. That initial boost is great, but it can lead to a significant mid-day energy slump. Even worse, sugar can lead to weight gain or long-term health issues and too much caffeine can cause heart palpitations, insomnia, and anxiety.

If you are already experiencing work from home burnout symptoms, don’t keep them hidden by using medication or alternate substances. Wine is delicious and the sedative properties can help with relaxation. Yet if you’re drinking to the point where it’s necessary to help you get through the day, consider seeking professional help. If you feel you have been imbibing a bit more often than usual or feel things may be spiraling out of control, online therapy or a substance abuse meeting via Zoom can help.

Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Consider therapy or meditation to relieve stress and anxiety. Practicing gratitude, journaling, yoga, or tai chi are good ways to center yourself if you feel out of sorts.

9. Disconnect And Take A Vacation

We spend our days glued to our laptops, monitors, tablets, and smartphones. Humans are not meant to be permanently attached to technology. Unplug. Turn off your work devices on the weekends or after your workday and enjoy your time off.

Also, just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a vacation or some time off. Travel may be difficult or impossible at the moment, but you can still schedule some time off and give yourself a break. Do the things you usually wouldn’t have time to do or simply do nothing and just relax.

Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Consider taking a staycation or mini-vacation. Even if you must stay at home, the simple act of planning a vacation for when it’s safe to do so can help elevate your mood.

10. Ask For Help If You Need It

No matter how in-stride we think we have been dealing with current events, the fact of the matter is, stress has affected everyone’s levels of productivity. Sure, there may be some superhuman anomalies out there in the working world. But remember, they are the exception rather than the rule. Long time remote workers and new telecommuters alike have to realize that this public health crisis has forced everyone to measure productivity differently.

Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: If you are feeling overwhelmed, talk to a mental health professional. If it’s work-related, talk to your boss or manager regarding any deadlines or projects that may be too much for you.

In the end, there is no need to be a cautionary tale. We are all human. Taking the time to prioritize your well-being will help you personally and professionally. With the added stressors that current global events are foisting upon society, it’s vital to ensure that your mental health does not suffer. Remember, a significant reason workers transition to telecommuting is to enjoy a healthy work-life balance.

Do you have any tips to prevent work from home burnout? What’s worked for you in the past? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you!

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