How to understand the signs of burnout when working from home and how to contain them.

How to understand the signs of burnout when working from home and how to contain them

People who work from home also experience several challenges and burnout is the most common one. The feeling of total exhaustion- mentally, emotionally and physically– when working from home is real. During these moments, your motivation will be absent. Productivity levels drop to the floor as well. Most times, many of us experience these burnout feeling without even realizing we are going through a moment of stress and possible depression. The good thing is that it is fairly easy to contain a burnout when working from home. This article shows you how to understand these burnout signs and how you can easily contain them and increase your productivity levels.

Signs of burnout when working from home

As noted here, when you find yourself experiencing deep emotional, physical and mental drain when working from home, chances are that you could be experiencing burnout. What are the signs to look out for here?

Behavioral changes

Your behavior changes drastically when the exhaustion settles in. Most people start loathing taking care of their responsibilities – work-related and family-related responsibilities. The thought of just waking up in the morning to do chores is depressing. You tend to withdraw from these responsibilities or procrastinate as much as you can. I know I personally get super irritable when I feel overwhelmed.

Isolation is one of the biggest challenges among people who work from home. When you are forced to stay at home in an unstructured environment, you may not be able to function optimally and this may lead you into burnout.

Emotional changes

Self-doubt starts creeping in when working from home. No matter how good you are, there will always be a moment when you doubt yourself and your capabilities when working at home. It’s called imposter syndrome. It makes you feel like a fraud- Like you are not worth what you say you are. This makes you lose all motivation to work from home and this lack of motivation overshadows what you have already accomplished in the past. Then the feeling of helplessness starts to creep in. You start thinking that there is no way around it.

Physical signs and changes

Have you ever woken up in the morning feeling more tired than you were when you went to bed the previous night? And no, we are not talking about poor sleeping habits here. Our brain is synchronized to communicate with our bodies. When you have no motivation or liking for what you are waking up to do, the brain sends some sort of a message and your body reacts, making you feel fatigued even before you get down to work. Many people who work from home complain of headaches now and then, especially during the moments when they are feeling overwhelmed with their work.

You start eating poorly and doing little or no exercise. You lack the physical energy to do most of the things you know you are supposed to do. There is simply no drive. Your body does not want to respond to your wishes. When this goes on for long, it is not surprising to find people falling ill more often. Stress leads to your immune system not being on POINT. You may have been working in a burnout bubble for so long without even realizing it.

How to contain these burnout signs

When you find yourself experiencing any of the signs or changes noted above, you need to look at your environment keenly. Your source of burnout is lurking there, somewhere. Some of the common sources of burnouts when working from home include work-related challenges, family issues, and socially-charged challenges.

Tackling work-related challenges

These could be many and diverse, depending on where you work and the kind of work you do. A common challenge here is the feeling that you have no control over what you do. When working from home, the expectation is that you deliver a certain milestone within a certain deadline. Your boss is not there to supervise you or pressure you into working. Unfortunately for most people who work from home, their bosses expect them to be on their beck and call all the time. 

Since you also want to be with your family, the pressure from your work will start mounting. To avoid this, have a conversation with your boss and designate certain working hours. You can dedicate these hours to work and unplug when the time is over. Use the rest of the time to be with your family.

I personally try to set standard hours for myself – some days it works and others it does BUT it’s drastically helped me feel more in control of my schedule and how I manage my time. I am also trying to wake up in the morning before the baby and the “work” day starts so I can have my “me time” with a cup of tea and just think about what I’d like to do today. You could also take that time to go for a morning walk or exercise!

Tackling family-related challenges

If you are a woman, a lot is waiting on your to-do list on any given day. Your family has to eat, your house requires your attention, there are clothes to launder and so much to do around the house. And your boss is also awaiting your input. How do you juggle between all these activities?

Those who have an understanding spouse or family members have it easier than others. They get help. Those who are not so lucky will always be feeling overwhelmed. They dread waking up in the morning when they think of the kind of chores that await them. To solve this you can wake up early before your work day, you could designate certain days to handle certain tasks, hire a helper or talk with your family members. Let them understand that your work is also important and they should help you when you feel overwhelmed.

Carl and I make a schedule, when we’re able to switch on and off with the baby, when we are busy the other person jumps in as best as possible to help. Especially since we are both working from home while juggling a 7 month old! We also schedule in our date nights at home and which nights we just wanna do our own thing. It’s helped a lot – we don’t argue and its helped our communication a lot.

Tackling socially-generated challenges

Working from home can get lonely and isolated. The only real people you come into contact with are your family members. Sometimes the lack of human contact and social togetherness can be a limiting factor. You might need to see and talk to actual people to wade off these isolation feelings.

I find having happy hours with my friends via FaceTime or even having “family” get togethers has really helped me not feel so alone in the times we’re currently in. (Knee deep in Coronavirus) Thankfully we have this technology to help us not seem so far apart.

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