Nafisa Akabor
3 minute read
25 Jan 2021
4:09 pm

How to avoid burnout, especially when working from home

Nafisa Akabor

A little time out daily could be exactly what you need.

How to avoid burnout in 2021. Picture: iStock

Our lives were upended in 2020 due to the pandemic, which resulted in burnout from the blurred lines of working from home.

While 2021 isn’t going to magically make things better, we can learn from the last ten months on how to avoid burnout which the feeling of being emotionally and mentally drained and unable to function.

Burnout is beyond the normal feeling of ‘being tired’, it impacts a person’s ability to function.

Here are some top tips:

Create a workspace at home

In order to separate working from home within your home, you need to create a physical space for it. If your house is small, allocate a desk to where you can work from, or find a spot in a room that you can add one of those space-saving ladder desks. This allows you to ‘clock out’ at 5pm, move out of that physical space and enjoy being ‘home’ with the family. Limiting time at your desk to business hours only does wonders for your well-being.

Smartphone boundaries

This is highly underrated but you need to create boundaries when it comes to smartphone usage. Healthline says “we’re often turning to our phones to ease our anxiety, only to be consuming content that spikes it back up.” If you find messaging apps or social media becoming mentally taxing on you, use the built-in digital well-being tools and allocate a specific amount of time for these platforms. You don’t have to pick up your phone every time it beeps. Look into disabling push notifications or using “Do Not Disturb” to minimise screen time.

Set a routine

This one seems obvious, but plan your day while you’re at home. Make sure that around getting work done, you have time to take breaks for coffee, a walk or workout, have lunch in your dining room, do school pick-ups or even play with your pet. A good option also is to walk around or pace during phone calls. Having a routine will get you out of a slump, especially if it feels like you’re working all day with no break.

Carve out a safe space online

There’s a lot of negativity online, be it from the personalities you follow or family messaging groups. Don’t drag yourself into it; perhaps it’s time for a purge. In the words of Marie Kondo, ask yourself ‘does it spark joy’. A specific curation of what you allow into your space is key to your happiness, and surrounding yourself with the right people will have a positive impact on your well-being.

Make time for exercise

This can be tricky for some if you’ve never been into exercising, but it can alleviate stress and a create a sense of well-being, according to MindTools. However, nobody is suggesting you train for a 5K run. Start simple by including walks in your lunch break or a quick 30 minute workout from one of the many free apps available or via YouTube. Pairing a walk with a podcast or playlist with a workout will make the time pass by quickly.

 Look into meditation apps

If you’re feeling anxious for no reason because of the pandemic, consider meditation apps like Smiling Mind, Insight Timer or Headspace (paid). The latter aptly describes itself as a “gym membership for the mind”. A little time out daily could be exactly what you need.

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