- Setting and adhering to boundaries on virtual work hours will restrict access and help lower stress and anxiety levels.
- Don't overthink mixed or vague messages received from co-workers or supervisors that are confusing.
- Saying no to not working 24/7 is not a sign of weakness; it's the brain's way of saying it is time to recover.
One of the least talked about issues in the workplace during this extended and post-pandemic recovery period is the significant rise of burnout, which is fueling increases in anxiety and depression among workers of all ages. I’ve experienced this trend occurring among my clients, reinforced by a study of 1500 workers by Indeed.com (March 2021). They reported that more than half (52%) of respondents feel burned out, and over two-thirds (67%) believe the feeling has worsened throughout the pandemic.
The study noted that burnout is worse for people working virtually (38%) than those working on-site (28%). Millennials (59%) remain the most affected population, but Gen-Z (58%) and Gen-X (54%) aren’t far behind. Baby Boomers (31%) have the lowest percentage of burnout, according to the study.
These statistics fortify the adverse and critical role of burnout in maintaining our mental health and physical wellbeing. While most workers cannot control and dictate how their employers manage the work environment, there are methodologies you can use to combat and reverse your burnout from becoming untenable. Here are four techniques that can help you.
1. Set work boundaries
Write out your daily work hours and adhere to them. Include reminders to turn off notifications for virtual work chat groups and emails on your computer or phone once your workday has ended, so you’re not dragged back into doing more work.
2. Don’t wait for “It’s enough.”
Advocate for your own needs when implementing work schedule boundaries and see how your manager responds instead of asking for guidance or permission that may never come. Managers can’t guide work/life balance on a “work-at-home” paradigm because they aren’t mind readers; what works for them may not work for you. And don’t overthink mixed or vague messages you receive from co-workers and supervisors that may be confusing. Instead, wait for direct feedback that may or may not be forthcoming.
3. Say, “No.”
Saying “no” is not a sign of weakness because you’re unwilling to work 24/7. It’s a sign that you’re aware that you need time for your brain to recover. So, if the workload you’re assigned negatively affects the work/life balance you have designed for yourself, then you must learn to say “no.” Become adept at mindfully declining projects assigned. When you do this, you’ll feel more refreshed, efficient, and less resentful.
4. There’s no right or wrong.
Most people believe there’s a right and wrong way to do things, and working from home is no different. Take the time to identify role models that you feel have a good work/life balance. See what you can implement that they’re doing. You may need to go through a trial period before finding a balance that feels authentic and right for you. Many fair managers will accept assertive advocacy from their employees as to their on and off work times.
Using these techniques will effectively curb your sense of burnout if you stay committed and don’t relent before you experience noticeable results. The benefits can be significant and prevent you from taking mental health or medical leave. Monitor yourself closely.
If you need professional guidance to cope with your feelings, boundaries, and limitations, take the necessary steps to get help before your symptoms spiral out of control.
To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.
Kelly, Jack (April 5, 2021) "Indeed Study Shows That Workers Burnout Is At Frightening High Levels: Here's What You Need To Do Now." Forbes.com
Threlkeld, Christy (March 11, 2021) "Employee Burnout Report: COVID-19's Impact 3 Strategies To Curb It." Indeed.com