Believe it: burnout can happen when WFH. So, how do you avoid a crash, or slow the burn if you’re already suffering from it? First of all, a routine is critical to being productive. The trick is setting boundaries to avoid an overlap of home duties while still being able to meet work deadlines. Simple on paper, right? Which is why we brought in the expert. Clinical psychologist Dr Sherona Rawat weighs in on how to tell if you’re burnt out, and offers practical coping mechanisms to get you back on track…
First, let’s talk about boundaries…
Allocate time in your day for different responsibilities – work time is work time and so is playtime, explains Dr Rawat. Flexibility is important, but only within reasonable limits, or you could end up feeling overwhelmed.
“Allocating certain areas in your home for serious work or leisure is important too, because our minds become accustomed to behaving in a certain manner, depending on where we are. So, those who work from an office may find it difficult to change their mindset and work from their living room couch,” she says. While it may be super-comfy to work from your bed, it will affect your sleep and relaxation in the long run as your bedroom becomes associated with work.
So, what does burnout actually feel like?
Typical burnout symptoms include headaches, stomach problems, general aches and pains, or other physical symptoms that may cause you significant discomfort and can’t be explained by any general medical condition. How many of these have you nodding your head?
1/ Depressed mood, anger, or irritability.
2/ High stress and anxiety.
5/ Substance abuse or addictive behaviour.
6/ Changed attitude to work, negative attitude, lack of energy around work-related tasks, and/or difficulty concentrating.
7/ Being less productive, lacking satisfaction, and feeling disillusioned about your work.
And what makes burnout more likely to happen?
These are the burnout risk factors to be alert to, and try to avoid:
1/ Lack of control over your work and work environment.
2/ Being unclear as to the expectations, limitations and requirements of your job or the individuals you are answerable to within your work environment.
3/ Feelings of isolation at work.
4/ Large workload or being overworked. Overtime or shift work makes up a significant proportion of your job.
5/ You lack interest in your work or find it monotonous and/or boring.
So you’re officially burnt out. Here’s what you can do about it…
1/ Take control of your current situation and identify and acknowledge your difficulties.
2/ Take personal responsibility for your mental state. Try a relaxing activity like yoga, meditation, tai chi, art or dance. “Mindfulness which entails regulating one’s breathing while being intensely aware of what you are sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment, is good,” says Dr Rawat.
3/ Get some exercise that you enjoy and get some good sleep.
4/ If none of the above work, seek professional support and guidance. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it’s empowering.