Zoom fatigue. Covid exhaustion. Coronasomnia. If you live in one of the many areas where the pandemic is still not under control you will recognize all of the above, terms that express the overwhelming emotions that many of us have been experiencing from being confined. Regardless of what you call it, the umbrella term that represents many of these feelings, is burnout. Known as the state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion produced by excessive stress, burnout has long been a threat to workforce productivity. If you have had the privilege of working from home during this time, you may be familiar with the tiredness that comes with communicating virtually on a regular basis. Frontline workers are no strangers to physical and emotional exhaustion but have been facing a new type of mental strain. Carrying out essential duties is now coupled with growing concerns about being exposed to the virus or exposing loved ones to it. In this article, we’ll explore how burnout has been affecting workers in the ever-changing conditions of the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many around the globe quickly transitioning to remote work. For those working from home for the first time, struggling with maintaining the boundaries between personal and professional life is not uncommon. Employees have often had to get creative while setting up their makeshift home offices. The search for a quiet nook in the home can be harder for those who live with family members or have children. What’s more, the noise produced by family members, roommates, or even pets, can make it highly difficult to concentrate on important tasks. When concentration is broken, productivity decreases. To make up for their lack of focus during the daytime, some workers find themselves putting in extra time, logging on in the evening to catch up on e-mails or complete any unfinished projects. As we mentioned in our previous article, messing with your routine can impact your body clock. Increased exposure to screen time before bed is also believed to have a negative impact on sleep quality and duration. Also, when we are unable to detach ourselves from work, we are likely to lose motivation in other areas of our lives, build up stress, and potentially harm our mental health in the process.
How to Spot Burnout
So, how do you know if what you’re currently experiencing is burnout? This is a common question, and a valid one, as the symptoms of burnout can sometimes just feel like regular stress. Whereas stress is typically temporary, burnout tends to have a longer recovery time. The reason for this is that burnout is the result of extended stress – stress that has been building up for a very long time and has been bottled up. When experiencing stress, an intense sensation of pressure can be felt, but one may have hope that these feelings will eventually pass. When experiencing burnout, on the other hand, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness often arise, severely lowering a person’s motivation. Being bombarded with the latest news updates, dealing with social isolation and navigating the many highs and lows that come with the pandemic is stressful enough. When you add a seemingly never-ending workload onto your plate, it makes for an even bumpier ride.
Burnout manifests itself differently in different people. The experience is often characterized by a severe lack of energy, detachment, and decreased job and personal satisfaction. Individuals going through burnout also tend to adopt a negative attitude towards their life and career. These emotional symptoms can be accompanied by physical ones like aches and pains, a loss of appetite, and changes in sleep habits.
How to Beat Burnout
Some research suggests that there is a link between perfectionism and burnout. If you are somebody who puts a lot of pressure on yourself to succeed, you may want to get started by working on your thought patterns. Be realistic when it comes to your goals. Understand that everybody, including you, makes mistakes and has off days every once in a while. Extend yourself some grace.
Too many people suffer in silence and feel that reaching out is a sign of weakness. The reality is the opposite. Asking for help is a vulnerable act, but it takes a tremendous amount of strength and courage to seek support. If you are in a position to do so, delegate tasks to other team members. This will free up some time in your schedule to focus on the priorities that require your full attention.
Finally, take some time off if you need it. Everybody’s situation is different, and unfortunately, not everybody has access to work benefits and personal days off. If you do, be sure to take a mental health day dedicated to stress relief. These days off present an opportunity to take a step back, relax and reset your perspective.
It’s important to look out for the warning signs of burnout. Identifying them early will provide you with the time and energy needed to determine your next course of action. It can be incredibly hard to pull yourself out of your exhaustion, so taking an active role in your recovery process, rather than mentally detaching from the situation, is key.
If you found this helpful, stay tuned for our next article. We will be discussing practical ways to manage stress and anxiety, including taking charge of your sleep health with the help of Zenbev’s natural sleep-inducing properties.