In a typical year, most people live hectic lives, juggling family and work responsibilities. During this pandemic, everything has become even more challenging.
Adapting to these overwhelming, ever-changing circumstances has tested our ability to live as normally as possible while trying to stay safe and healthy as well. Under these highly stressful conditions, it’s easy to get worn down if you’re not careful and not aware of how the pandemic is taking a toll on your mental and physical health.
Here are some common signs of burnout:
- You’re working harder than ever but are less productive
- Your sense of well-being is on the decline for no specific reason
- You’re constantly exhausted and listless, or experience reduced mental sharpness
- You lack motivation and generally feel unhappy or dissatisfied
There are proven ways to help you bounce back from difficult times in order to carry on with day-to-day life. Nourishing your mind and replenishing your physical energy start with recovery. The two main components of recovery, according to The WiseMind Co.,* are internal and external.
To help you manage stress and enhance productivity at work, strive for 10 or 15 minutes of internal recovery, which is the restorative act of taking strategic breaks roughly every 90 minutes. The following three practices may help “recharge your batteries” during the workday:
- Breathe. To help you relax and limit the impact of stress, take three slow, deep breaths when there’s a natural break in your day (e.g., between meetings, just before lunch or when transitioning from one task to another).
- Move your body. Take a short walk (make it brisk if you’re able). Try stretching to alleviate some tension in your body. Any physical activity can help relieve stress and improve well-being.
- Connect with nature. Immersing yourself in nature may calm your nervous system. Head outside for fresh air. Take note of the trees, flowers and plants, or observe the birds in the sky and other creatures of nature.
This. component refers to the restorative practices that you engage in outside of your workday. Try the following three practices whenever you have the opportunity:
- Set boundaries. Create a clear divide between work and your personal life. If you’re working from home, changing your clothes or switching off your computer and phone may symbolically indicate that you’re transitioning to personal time. By disconnecting from work, you can reconnect with yourself and what matters most to you.
- Make time for … nothing. This might be difficult since society seems geared toward being constantly busy and accomplishing as much as possible. However, press the “pause button” occasionally and putter around with no specific goal in mind – or relax and do nothing at all.
- Prioritize play. The WiseMind Co. believes the opposite of play is not work, but depression. Play boosts our mental health and well-being. It also frees our creativity and triggers the ability to innovate and solve problems. A playful attitude may keep you positive as well, so laugh more and stress less.
Everybody’s recovery strategy is different. You may focus more on one component of recovery over another. Similarly, within each component, certain actions may resonate more with you than others, or you may integrate actions of your own. What’s most important is prioritizing recovery in your life instead of always trying to do too much, too fast.
- Be self-compassionate. You don’t need to be perfect and it’s okay to miss some of your goals. Give yourself permission to step back from all the demands on you and address your own needs.
- Keep happiness in your life. Create a list of things you enjoy and the people you like. If you consciously make time for them, you’ll feel energized and more contented.
- Seek professional help. A therapist can help you identify the causes of your burnout and provide direction on how you can successfully cope with life’s challenges.
* Source: The WiseMind Co., a mindfulness-based consulting & development firm.