10 Tips to Avoid Covid Burn Out at Home and Help Your Mental Health.

(image: Unsplash)

There’s nothing inherently wrong about staying at home. On the contrary, it’s the perfect opportunity to focus on your work without the typical office interruptions. Besides, you don’t need to get up early to get ready for work anymore. Bliss! 

Or at least, that’s what you used to tell yourself during the first lockdown. But half-way through the second British lockdown, you’re finding it hard to stay positive about the situation. 

A simple chain of emails with a coworker makes your blood boil. They’re asking if you can edit your previous report. They don’t like the way it is written. They’d prefer a more energetic text. You roll your eyes. It’s an informative document, not a piece of poetry, you think to yourself. 

You bite through your lips during the next video call, trying to contain your frustration. Why are clients changing their minds again? They already gave the green light for the project, but now, they want everything redone again. You cheekily pretend the doorbell rang to escape the call for a few minutes while you try to calm down. 

Why is everything so unbearable these days? The answer is simple: Lockdown takes its toll on your mental health. Don’t be harsh on yourself.

Feeling tired, stressed out, and angry is a normal reaction during the pandemic. In any other situation, you would plan a relaxing vacation away from the hecticness of everyday life. Unfortunately, there is nowhere else you can go. So how do you take a break when you can’t go anywhere to recharge your batteries? 

#1. Book a few days off

You may not be able to go anywhere, but turning the laptop off for a few days can already make a big difference. Working from home means that you can’t truly compartmentalise work in the way you used to. There’s no way you can leave your office worried at the door when coming back home. The home office has brought work inside your home. A lot of professionals tend to check their emails on their phones, long after their working hours.

On top of that, you’re more likely to work longer hours at home, as there’s no rush to leave the office on time. Compared to the typical 8-hour day, it’s easy to see why you’re exhausted! Don’t be afraid to book some holiday away from the screen. 

#2. Reach out to an expert

Sometimes a short break isn’t enough to take your mind off work stress. Working from home makes you more vulnerable to mental fatigue, as you’re more likely to work overtime. However, when the fatigue reaches such a level that you feel emotionally empty and powerless, you may want to reach out to a doctor. Indeed, what you may be experiencing is burnout, the sensation that there is always so much to do and that you can’t meet the expectations that your work has from you.

You may not be ready to reach out to a therapist to discuss your issues, or perhaps you are not sure what you should be talking about. But you can reach out to an online doctor service to find tools and tips that can help you cope. You can consider treatment for anxiety, for example, which can help you relax. 

#3. Create a strict schedule

According to a LinkedIn study, many home-based employees feel the pressure to appear busy. Many are worried about how coworkers and managers perceive them. As a result, overtime has become the new normal. Britons working from home are doing the equivalent of 4 extra whole working days per month.

It is exhausting, both to the mind and the body. You need to create a schedule that respects your work/life balance. Reduce overtime by blocking time in your calendar for yourself and your family. For instance, if you’re unlikely to stop working at 5:30 PM, book an appointment for yourself after work. Why not schedule your home workout at 6 PM? Make sure as well to book lunchtime away from the desk, even if you’re only going to the kitchen to heat leftovers. You need to reclaim your spare time. 

#4. Introduce a soothing routine

How do you soothe the mind when anxiety won’t disappear? Making time for your mental health can transform your perception of lockdown, and also improve your productivity at work. Yoga is an excellent tool to let go of stress and clear your headspace. You can start noticing positive effects after only a few minutes of exercise. Making yoga a daily practice can help gradually take back control of your emotions and regain your peace of mind. 

Admittedly, yoga if not for everyone. Perhaps, you’d prefer a different kind of workout to alleviate stress. Or a relaxing bath after work. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you stick to it. 

#5. Seek new interests

Lockdown is shrinking the world around us. After a few weeks, your entire life revolves around your home office desk, the bedroom, and the couch in the living room. You feel trapped in a tiny routine. While going out is not an option, you can consider introducing new things in your daily life. Something as trivial as reading a book or watching a new TV show on Netflix can bring a sense of renewal and excitement. 

#6. Allow yourself to be lazy

The art of doing nothing is a complex skill to acquire. We live in a society that believes that productivity is the only way to create value. We reject unproductive and passive activities because we’ve been conditioned into thinking that doing nothing is bad. The truth is that doing nothing can give you the time and space you need to recharge your batteries. Sit on the couch and let time pass without checking your emails or reading the news. Your mind doesn’t need constant stimulation. On the contrary, the absence of intellectual engagement is necessary. The hyper-productivity race is destroying your sense of self and your mental health. 

(image: Unsplash)

#7. Stay in bed a little longer

Do you wake up feeling refreshed? No? You’re not the only one. A whopping two-thirds of people have been struggling with sleep quality since the beginning of the pandemic. The combination of pandemic anxiety and long working hours creates a sleep deficit. Ultimately, it affects your mood, your mental focus, and your energy levels. Why not go to bed a little earlier today? Don’t be afraid of changing your sleep routine to find what works for you. 

#8. Have realistic goals

In lockdown, I’ll learn a new language. 

I’ll get fit. 

I’ll repaint the bedroom. 

Don’t overdo it. Staying at home doesn’t mean you’ve got more time at your hands. Setting unrealistic lockdown goals will only stress you out. 

#9. Laugh

As silly as it sounds, laughing is still the best medicine when it comes to releasing stress and anxiety. Sit back and watch your favourite comedian on TV. Zoom with friends for an online quiz or an escape room game. Laughing your heart off is not just good for your mood. It helps to break the cycle of stress and self-guilt that leads to burnout. 

#10. Make time to go out

In winter, the seasonal affective disorder is at its worst. Even without lockdown, you’d be naturally getting less exposure to sunlight. But right now, it’s important to make time to go out of the house and walk in the sun. Whether you’re just going to add some seeds on the bird’s table in the garden or walking down the street to your local shop, you don’t need more than 30 minutes a day to regulate your mood. It can make a huge difference. 

Feeling drained, tired, and irritable is a normal reaction to lockdown. As more and more people are reporting mental health symptoms, it’s important to take preventive steps to avoid Covid burnout. Take back control of your routine and your mood as you’re staying at home. 


This article was written by a freelance writer
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Being a parent of a child taking GCSE exams and looking after wellbeing: Guest Post by David Welham

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(image: http://thesprout.co.uk)

Millions of parents would have experienced the stress and anxiety this summer in the UK with their children taking GCSE’s.

As a parent I was no different and wanted to share my experience. Exams are so different from when I took them. There are more, they take place over just a weeks and in my opinion changes to GCSE’s have been rushed without thinking about the effect on our children’s mental health. 

It seems that they were changed because employers were feeling that they were too easy.

As if my son didn’t have enough to occupy his mind, his future, should he do an apprenticeship, or should he go to college and not to mention the intense revision and preparation for exams.

I remember talking to other parents who also felt the same and expressed real concerns that their children would struggle to cope. They all said what happens if he or see is struggling I am not sure where to go or to talk to. We agreed that if I as a parent appear anxious how can I expect my child to cope.

Its fine just saying things will be OK and not to worry but I did worry, and I secretly just wanted the three weeks to pass as quickly as possible. 

My son decided that Xbox would be too much of a distraction and that it can be put away. I thought that this was mature and the right decision. He worked out a revision plan and we thought about his downtime, but I could still see anxiety and worry.

So I made a plan to make sure that he looked after his wellbeing. Checking in that he was alright and that he looked after his physical health and mental health. I was aware that it was important to take time out from the revision and as advised by school not to stop doing what he likes and change his routine. 

He went to the gym and out with his friends to maintain his relationships. We also planned things as a family as well in-between revision. This broke up the daily grind but there were still periods when I was concerned that he wouldn’t get through it.

I read articles in the news and spoke to school but talking to my son there were children who really struggled. He said that they were really not coping with their mental health. I worried when I heard about children crying, running out of the exam room and parents being called to take them home.

This can’t be right and is something that more research should be undertaken into the effects during exams as I can’t help thinking that we are setting them up for serious problems with their mental health further down the line.

I have suggestions on how to lessen the stress and anxiety during exam time.

Spread the exams over a longer period to give teenagers a bit of breathing space and allow them to take a break. If the exams were spread out there would be less intensity and time to do other things in their lives. I would also suggest there is less focus on the results and outcome and that children can just be children, without such a great amount of stress.

David Welham is a mental health writer from the UK

Guest post by Lucy Boyle: What you need to know about Burnout Syndrome

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Stress and pressure are a part of everyday life. Our jobs often bring a fast pace; we may have to meet deadlines, complete projects in a certain timeframe, or put up with stressful environments. No matter who you are or what you do, there’s a certain amount of stress that just “comes with the job”.

However, there are times when the pressure gets to be too much. You may have been dealing with days, weeks, months, or even years of too much work and not enough downtime. The stresses of the job may be piling up with the stresses at home. Eventually, you run the risk of what is known as “burnout syndrome”.

Burnout syndrome, also known as occupational or job burnout, is defined as “a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” The symptoms of burnout include:

  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Frustration and negative emotions
  • Lack of motivation
  • Attention and concentration difficulties
  • Reduced performance on the job
  • Lack of personal care, unhealthy coping mechanisms (eating, smoking, drinking, etc.)
  • Interpersonal difficulties, both on the job and at home
  • Preoccupation with work, even when you’re not working
  • Chronic health problems
  • Illness (the result of chronic stress)
  • Headaches
  • Decreased satisfaction with the quality of your life

If you’re noticing these symptoms in your life, you may be suffering from or getting close to burnout.

But what causes burnout syndrome? How does it get from “I’m having a bad day at work” to the feeling of being overwhelmed, overburdened, and emotionally drained? There are a lot of things that can contribute to the feelings of burnout.

  • Interpersonal relationship problems at work, with coworkers, employees, or employers.
  • A lack of control in your life, feeling like you have no say in anything that goes on at work or home.
  • A lack of clarity in your job description or burden of responsibilities.
  • Monotony or chaos in your job—both can require a lot of energy to remain focused.
  • Company ethics, values, or methods of handling feedback, grievances, or complaints that are not aligned with yours.
  • A job that doesn’t fit with your skills or interest.
  • Isolation at work or home; you may feel like your social support is lacking.
  • An imbalance in your work-life routine, usually too much time spent at work and not enough at home.

All of these factors can add to your feelings of stress and anxiety. Over time, they simply INCREASE until you feel like the burden of your job is too much to bear.

The truth is that occupational burnout is incredibly common, especially among human service professions. ER physicians, nurses, social workers, teachers, engineers, lawyers, police officers, and customer service reps are all at a very high risk of burnout. The high-pressure environment and occupation add to the emotional demands of the job. Eventually, everything becomes too much to bear and you suffer from burnout.

So what can you do if you’re feeling burned out? How can you cope with the mounting stress and pressure that may eventually become too much to bear?

Engage socially. Social interaction and connection is one of the most effective antidotes to depression, anxiety, and stress. Spending time with family, friends, and coworkers can help you to feel better. Making friends at work can change the environment positively, making work seem less stressful because of you have a social support framework in place. Open up to people and share your feelings. It can release some of the pressure building inside you and encourage better connection with others.

Reframe your perspective. Instead of seeing work as a bore, a chore, or a stressor, try to find value in what you do. Your job benefits someone, so look at what you do as providing an invaluable service.

Evaluate your priorities. What’s more important to you: work or home life? If your career is important, find ways to focus on it without adding to your stress. Work on a better work-life balance. Take more time off work, even if it means someone else gets the promotion you wanted. Set boundaries on your time and availability. Set aside time to relax and unwind, both in the middle of and at the end of the day. Stop rushing around so much—from home to work and back home again. Focus on what matters: your health and happiness!

Change your lifestyle. Get more sleep. Eat better. Exercise more. Drink less coffee and alcohol. Read more books. Walk in the park more. Take a nap in the middle of the day. Move around more. Quit smoking. Improve your lifestyle, and you’ll find your body and mind better able to cope with the feelings of stress that could lead to burnout.

In the end, YOU are the one in control of your life. Make the decisions that will reduce stress, not add to it. Take care of your body, mind, and emotions, and you’ll avoid those feelings of burnout!

Lucy Boyle (@BoyleLucy2), is a full-time mother, blogger and freelance business consultant, interested in finance, business, home gardening and mental health.