Working remotely can feel like a dream come true. Instead of a punishing commute, you need only stroll from your bedroom to your home office. Instead of waking up just past sunrise, you get a few extra hours of zzzzzzs. Maybe best of all, your furbabies and human babies are nearby and actually remember what you look like!
Unfortunately, working from home doesn’t insulate you from burnout. In fact, during 2020’s lockdowns many newly remote workers experienced more burnout than they had in the office. Burnout can happen anywhere. It’s the result of “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” as the World Health Organization explains. Symptoms include,”energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.” If you’ve been answering business emails in bed, doing spreadsheets in the living room, and chatting with office mates while in the kitchen, then you don’t really have a home office. Instead, you’ve transformed your home into an office. If your days stretch into the wee hours and you’re starting to dread picking up your laptop, it could be a sign of burnout. Here are six healthy habits working from home to avoid burnout.
1. Set Boundaries
It’s okay if your work-from-home schedule doesn’t precisely match your in-office schedule. Lots of people prefer a later start or do their best work in the early evening. The key is setting clear boundaries. There should be certain times when you aren’t working. Ideally, there should be places in your home where you don’t do work. Your mind needs these escapes to recharge; don’t let work take over every inch of your house. No matter how driven you were back at the office, you had a quitting time didn’t you? Well, make sure you have one when you are working from home.
2.Practice Healthy Snacking
With your kitchen just a few paces away, it’s easy to become a regular grazer. That’s perfectly fine. Most of us benefit from eating smaller portions more often. The problem is if your afternoon pick-me-up includes a bag of chips or a handful of cookies. One of the healthy habits to develop when working from home is preparing things like sliced apples or carrots in advance. Or you can buy the pre-cut variety. The key is to have them handy before you start craving something to gnaw on.
Midday workouts are awesome. Although not all remote workers have this flexibility, if you can jog, do some yoga, or otherwise get some exercise in the middle of the day you really should. Breaking up your work mentally can help you recharge. Exercising elevates dopamine levels –– a proven way to feel more optimistic and energized. Plus, if you’ve been struggling with a work problem it might get resolved while you’re on a treadmill. Delaying your fitness until after the workday is a surefire way to skip it entirely.
Being mindful and fully present isn’t easy. However, taking some time away from work to meditate can really improve your creativity and is one of my favorite healthy habits working from home. Burnout occurs partly because of stress –– which meditation can help alleviate.
Working from home can be isolating. Now that businesses across the country have finally opened up, it’s a great excuse for a get together. You need other humans. So take the time to schedule a meet-up with friends from work or old acquaintances you haven’t seen in a while.
6. Get Plenty of Sleep
Your hardworking mind and body need at least seven hours of sleep every night. It’s fine if you’re getting a 20 minute afternoon catnap (lots of celebrated people celebrated their naps). However, getting too little sleep can not only harm focus and creativity, it’s as bad for your body as smoking. Turn bedtime into a routine ritual. Stowe your phone, laptop, and other electronic devices in another room. Drink some herbal tea, have a warm shower or bath. Then curl up in bed with a good book.
If you’ve followed these tips and are still dealing with the symptoms of burnout, you may want to speak to a qualified therapist. It’s important to take the condition seriously.
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