Are you trying to avoid burnout? There are many reasons that you might feel burnout. The“always-on culture” is toxic and not sustainable.
Working from home isn't for everyone, and it can be challenging. I'm in my eleventh year of working from home, and it's something I need to be aware of all the time. When you work at home, it is much harder to get off the clock, especially with smartphones following you around all the time. Writing for Harvard Business Review, John Hackston explains that, “Technology can empower people, but it can also make them feel enslaved. By thinking carefully about how and when to use it, you can find your own sweet spot. Amid the current crisis, that’s more important than ever.”
I had initially thought to write this for social media managers and bloggers, but it can apply to many situations. So whatever you do, I hope this is helpful.
“Three symptoms characterize burnout: exhaustion; cynicism, or distancing oneself from work; and inefficacy, or feelings of incompetence and lack of achievement.” from Harvard Business Review
Here are some signs that you might be heading toward burnout:
- work frustration or excess stress
- headaches or stomach aches
- emotional exhaustion
- can't focus on work
These are some ways to avoid burnout:
Create a beautiful workspace.
I like to have a candle burning and a soft playlist that helps me transition to work time. I have some peppermint hand lotion and pens that I love, little details. These little details create a calming supportive environment for me. Take a little time each week to clean up your desk and work area to get ready for the upcoming week. Losing the clutter and coming to a reset space is practicing self-care.
Get a good night's sleep.
If you haven't already read it, I highly recommend Arianna Huffington's The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time. She shares how her burn out crisis occurred and what came afterward. In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream. She examines all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on getting better and more restorative sleep and harnessing its incredible power. In Arianna's words, “sleep your way to the top,” starting with your bed bedtime routine.
I love using an eye mask to block light and my Bose Sleep Buds.
Reading before bed is the best! This is what I read in 2020.Technology can empower us, but it can also make us feel enslaved. My ideas about combatting burnout here: Click To Tweet
Eat healthy foods.
It's so hard when you work at home not to raid the fridge or cupboards when you have that afternoon slump; you are stressed or bored. There are many different ways that you can dive into a healthier food plan. I like to take a page from Weight Watchers and keep track of my food, so I know what I've eaten and create a plan for the day and week.
I have a great Pinterest board that you can follow called Healthy Choices with lots of great things to try.
Move your body.
Why is this such a challenge? Maybe it isn't for everyone, but when you work at home and gyms are closed, it is a challenge. I've been doing yoga classes on YouTube. And they're free!
Walking is another way that I love to move my body and get fresh air. Weather permitting, I'm walking daily. It's a little bit of a challenge in New England in the winter but snowy walks are pretty.
Recharge your battery.
Chat with friends, plan FaceTime, or Zoom calls with family. Being cooped up in the house with the same people can be stressful. Take some of the pressure off and text and talk to others.
Make a list of things that make you smile.
Being grateful is essential for our well-being. “Living your life with gratitude helps you notice the little wins—like the bus showing up right on time, a stranger holding the door for you, or the sun shining through your window when you wake up in the morning. Each of these small moments strings together to create a web of well-being that, over time, strengthens your ability to notice the good.”
Ideas for Practicing Mindful Gratitude
Plan times to fully unplug.
Yes, you heard me. Stop staring at devices all the time. It's damaging, and we know it, but keep doing it anyway.
I have notifications off on my phone all the time because FOMO keeps you picking up your phone over and over enough without having a ding to remind you.
Limit yourself to one screen at a time. Make a habit of only looking at one screen at a time to improve concentration—and, in some cases, enjoyment.
Block out free time on your calendar.
Use your calendar for good – schedule time for breaks and eat lunch away from your computer. Taking a half hour break and going to the kitchen will let your brain relax a bit and eating at your desk is a bad habit.
Schedule days off, at home yoga classes, time to bake and relax. You get the idea.
Write a snappy OOO message [and use it].
Do you have a hard time not checking email? I truly miss the days when you could leave work at the office and not have calls and email at home on your phone and laptop.
When you're off the clock, put up an out of office message to help the anxiety from missing an email and it helps set boundaries for your worktime.
Learn something new.
I've been taking different types of classes such as PhotoShop and I'm looking at some Procreate classes. I loved this class too. Skillshare is a great place to pay one fee and watch unlimited classes. You can get two free weeks here.
It doesn't have to be a work-related skill, learn knitting or something else that you've always wanted to do.
Take a nap.
Your mom was on to something. Shoot for fifteen to twenty minutes for a great power nap.
Lots of details on Sleep.org
Avoid the 24/7 news cycle.
It's so stressful. Make sure you don't overload your brain with too many messages and too much information.
Here are some apps that I love:
The Moment app [by Tim Kendall, former President of Pinterest] can track how often you use your iPhone and iPad each day and lets you set daily limits.
Think Up is a great app for positive vibes and motivation. You record affirmations like “I am relaxed and calm.” into the app and add relaxing music. It's fantastic.
While you won't be able to do all of these all the time, being aware of steps you can take to get yourself back on track can be helpful. Let this be the year that you prioritize your health and work-life harmony. Maybe we won't achieve balance but harmony to live a successful and productive life. What more could we ask for?
I hope that these ideas to avoid burnout will help you and bring you a more peaceful state of mind. I would love to know what steps you take to create work-life harmony – share with me in the comments.