Effective Ways to Fight Burnout and Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Do you feel too exhausted and overwhelmed with your work that you start to disengage and stop caring? It may be due to pressuring yourself to do better or difficulty balancing work and life. All of these can eventually lead to burnout.
Burnout happens when you experience constant stress from work without being able to manage it properly. According to the World Health Organization, it’s often linked to energy depletion or exhaustion, heightened mental distance, negative or cynical feelings toward a job, and reduced professional efficiency.
This is more relevant now that people are working from home. Some find it hard to completely log off from their remote work, and others are worried about layoffs and furloughs. People feel more pressured to show their value to their company and prove that they are the ideal employee. Now that work has been brought inside the home, work-life boundaries have been blurred significantly.
Professor of management Nancy Rothbard of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School believes that our current situation leaves people with fewer opportunities to recover and rejuvenate.
With stay-at-home orders and social distancing in place, sweating it out at the gym or enjoying a few drinks with friends is not an option. Natural boundaries that separate work and life have now disappeared. Even those who are used to remote work can’t change their sceneries.
If you find it hard to set boundaries, preserve your energy, maintain your mental health, or make time to recharge, then these strategies might work for you.
Set Up Boundaries
Using different devices for working and leisure time may help differentiate work time and home time, according to Rothbard. She tries to use her computer when she’s working and uses her iPad when she’s just looking something up in the evening. Rothbard also says that it might be helpful for some people to have a separate dedicated workspace to set up work-life boundaries.
Clinical psychologist Lori Whatley, who specializes in the impacts of using digital devices, says that it’s even more important to practice self-care right now. To do this, try to get enough sleep, exercise, stay hydrated, and connect with people regularly, even through texts. Wheatley also recommends practicing mindfulness to ease anxiety. Meditation and relaxation apps like Calm are proven to be quite helpful tools.
Don’t Go Beyond Work Hours
Plan a work schedule and stick to it. If you plan to end your work at 6 pm, then make sure to stop at that time. However, Rothbard says that it’s okay to go beyond that if you feel like you’re on a roll. If you still follow your normal work hours, adhere to typical guidelines like muting notifications for work emails after hours or leaving your laptop in a different room other than your bedroom. If you have the chance to go for a walk, or have a long bath, leave your phone away from you.
This may be a little harder for those who have to adjust their work hours due to child care. Most of the time, their productive time would be at night, when their kids are sleeping. Try to carve out some work time throughout the day, like during your kids’ nap time or screen time.
Change Up Your Routine
While we do like structure, it’s not wrong to modify a few parts of your daily routine just to make it less monotonous. Even the smallest of changes can make a difference. Instead of having your usual coffee, try drinking green tea. You might want to try oranges for an afternoon snack instead of your usual apples.
This also applies to your social interaction, the TV shows you watch, or even the books you are reading. Also, you might want to have things to look forward to throughout the week like ordering pizzas on Wednesday or binge-watching your favorite TV show on Saturday.
Don’t Overwork Yourself
More people are now feeling threatened about job security. Hence, they feel more pressured to prove their value n the company. Prevent burnout by giving yourself time to disconnect. This helps in productivity greatly. Working all the time is not recommended.
Don’t Compare Yourself with Co-Workers
Industrial/organizational psychologist Cathleen Swody’s advice is to avoid comparing yourself with how others are doing. You might get insecure that they have time to bake bread while you barely have enough for yourself. Just focus on what you can do and control.
Make Some Progress
Focus on major priorities first because handling big stuff gives a sense of achievement. After work, take up a small hobby or project. This kind of task gives you a sense of achievement as you work through it to achieve an accomplishment or new skill.
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