Ill-tempered or easily irritated? Short on time, patience and sleep? Have difficulty getting started on work projects? Unable to concentrate? You could be experiencing burnout, which occurs when fundamental human needs go unmet for a long period of time due to excessive or ongoing stress. And with the pandemic still going strong, it’s unfortunately become the norm of late.
But you can beat burnout.
1. Disconnect. If you’re available to your boss 24/7, you can’t refocus and recharge. Step away from the computer and the cell phone at a set time every evening and don’t respond to emails on the weekend. If this isn’t realistic, set specific times to check in on emails and respond to voicemails. Stick to these times no matter what.
2. Listen to your body. Sometimes that pain in your neck really is because you slept wrong. But aches and pains can also signal an accumulation of stress and anxiety. Learn to pay attention to what your body is telling you when you have another migraine or a stomachache that won’t quit.
3. Schedule relaxation. Set aside time—really, add it to your calendar—for yoga, tai chi or reading several chapters of a good book.
4. Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity can help you deal with stress better. It can also take your mind off work.
5. Set work-life boundaries. Many employees have been working remotely for a year because of the pandemic, something that can accelerate burnout. Couple excessive working hours with home-schooling children and throw in a lack of face-to-face interaction with colleagues, and you get blurred boundaries. The tension can feel overwhelming. Cut this tension by creating separation between work and your home life. Have a cup of coffee before sitting at your computer to check email. Meditate or exercise at the end of the workday, before slipping back into wife-and-mother mode. Also, stop multitasking; experts suggest we’re not good at juggling multiple things well anyway.
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