Key Highlights

  • Know the signs of burnout – the trifecta of chronic work stress and risks/fears of disconnecting from job, friends, family and interests
  • Burnout typically hits Type A personalities – people whose identities are tied to their jobs
  • Caused by heavy demands and little control
  • Tips to formulate anti-burnout plan

If ever there were a perfect environment for burnout, we are living in that environment right now. The seemingly but predictably out-of-the-blue COVID-19 has knocked the socks off the world’s health systems and the world’s economy. We are all “out of control.” And for those of us who work very hard to be in control, this has been and will continue to be a very challenging time.

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Burnout symptoms usually arrive in this sequence:

  • Exhaustion – energy depletion so deep you struggle to do even the most basic tasks
  • Detachment – mental distancing from your job and cynicism about job importance
  • Inefficacy – lack of interest in and even loss of productivity and job satisfaction

Attempting to replicate or even come close to the quality and quantity of work you were accustomed to achieving “at the office” is now difficult at best, if not impossible, in your home working environment. Putting in long hours while being confined in your home indefinitely starts to get claustrophobic under the best of circumstances. And being confined in your home indefinitely without your usually taken-for-granted colleagues, clients and external stimuli being “out of the office,” much of what you built into your work has disappeared.

What to include in an anti-burnout plan?

Rajvinder Samra, burnout specialist and lecturer at London’s Open University encourages the many of us who are experiencing burnout in this remote work environment regardless of how many Zoom and FaceTime “chats” we schedule during the day to maintain our network connections and sanity to consider:

  • Restructuring your schedule to at least include activities you enjoy within the primary architecture of your work hours
  • Recovery breaks to escape the stress of work, caregiving/schooling children at home 24/7, household chores, etc. by taking brain breaks of 5-20 minutes – exercise, meditate, read, play music – some that engages your brain and body quickly
  • Extend one or two brain breaks into recovery blocks for 30-40 minutes.
  • Regain control by listing all the stressors you cannot control. If you live/work alone, create a mentor or cathartic relationship with someone you admire and trust that might offer you the opportunity to “unload” and imagine/try-on/shift through some options.
  • Set up boundaries and timeframes that help you shift into home mode. It’s never all about work just as it’s never all about the partner and/or children.
  • Know that burnout loves perfectionists. This is the time to get things done. This is NOT the time to make things perfect.

Thanks to Bloomberg’s Arianne Cohen.

Also read: Will $2.2T CARES Act Sustain Economy or Are Relief Provisions Even Barely Enough?, Stimulus Package Will Fall Short of Preventing Next Downward Leg in US Stocks, Second Wave of Layoffs Hitting Those Who Thought They Were Safe

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