• Alexandria Gay

Fighting Burnout During COVID-19

Living and working during the COVID-19 outbreak is a test of patience, strength, and endurance. Even those of us lucky enough to be working from home struggle to maintain work-life-balance and manage our stress day after day. Most of us did not start our jobs expecting to have to manage work projects, barking dogs, and families all at the same time and place; but now that we must, our circumstances can seem overwhelming and the associated stress can lead to workplace burnout.

For those of you that don’t know, burnout is defined by the World Health Organization as "a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed[1].

Symptoms Include:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion

  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job;

  • Reduced professional efficacy

In other words, it is the feeling of physical, mental, and emotional fatigue that stems from un-managed workplace stress.

Unfortunately for many of us, our workplace and home are no longer separate spaces. We have lost, not only the peace of our commute to work and the comfort of human interaction, but the physical barrier that helps us separate our personal and professional lives. Not only are many of us working harder, but because we are no longer having to “go- home”, we miss out on the time and distance we usually depend upon to decompress and switch out of our professional modes.

Managing this is a particularly difficult task for working parents, who are not only having to juggle their usual workloads and the stress of the time but the full-time job of caring for and helping to educate their children.

It is a tremendous amount of work, and naturally, a tremendous amount of stress – so it should be no surprise that many of us are beginning to suffer from workplace burnout. As impossible as managing the stress of our personal and professional lives might seem, it is important to remember that burnout is not just an inconvenient problem we can ignore. The longer it is left unaddressed, the more severe the consequences. Giving to our personal or professional lives at the expense of your mental health is productive for no one, and it is in everyone’s best interest that we try and fight workplace-burnout.

So, How Do We Manage? There are many ways to try and reduce stress and fight workplace burnout, but the practices I’ve found most helpful are those that help me to remember my boundaries and take time for self-care.

  • Scheduling breaks throughout the day and especially at the beginning and end of the work period. It helps me to stay motivated, focused, and energized.