There’s a general feeling of “meh” in the air. Everyone I’ve talked to recently has been feeling somewhat exhausted, finding it hard to be productive, and generally easily irritable. The New York Times recently found a name for this: “Languishing,” and though everything described in that article was so relatable, and is the general mood of 2021, it also goes back to pandemic fatigue, or burnout from COVID-19.
According to The World Health Organization, burnout is:
“A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”
Though most believe that the main cause of burnout is workload, in reality, many factors contribute to it. Especially when we are still in the throes of a worldwide pandemic. If you’re feeling all the feels, and don’t really know what to do about it, we’ve done the research for you. Though there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, there are many ways in which we can practice healthier ways of living and working through managing our mindsets and approaches. Here are all the ways you can prevent and manage lingering feelings of burnout caused by the pandemic.
How to prevent burnout
If you start feeling the signs and red flags of burnout, it may be time to check-in with yourself. These tools and insights will help you identify and prevent a serious case of burnout that could leave you feeling crippled and in utter despair.
Here are 4 tools and insights that can help you prevent burnout:
1. Nurturing your connections
It’s important to develop a solid support system which involves both giving and receiving empathy. We feel more comfortable and linked when we have someone we trust and someone who holds room for us to be heard without judgment.
2. Stop judging yourself
Many of us, whether we’re conscious of it or not, judge ourselves harshly for not doing enough, making us feel bad and inferior. “I’m failing,” or “I’m a failure,” is a common conclusion that our anxious brains arrive at. Make an effort to pay attention to your emotions and thoughts, and if you find that you are your own worst critic, log your feelings in a journal, speak and vent to someone you trust, or do something else to reset your mind (a great example could be utilizing the DBT Distress Tolerance Skills).
3. Try to build balance in your life
At a time when everyone’s plastered to their computers and phones more than ever, adding in some time to socialize with people in person (safely, of course) could be extremely beneficial. You could also start including some nature time in your day if you are close to a park or able to go outside.
Creating a balance between indoors and outdoors, as well as screen time and IRL interactions will create a complementary flow of opposing energies in your life. You can’t expect to have a stress-free life immediately, but you should strive for a cycle that moves between feeling burnout and well-being in a continuous way.
4. Try out talk therapy
The benefits of talk therapy have been proven to be incredible and contribute to your long-term well-being. Having a dedicated time during the week to talk to a therapist will feel like a relief and will help you understand certain patterns and build your own well-being practice.
How to manage burnout
In case you’re reading this when you’re already feeling super burnt out and exhausted, here are some tried and tested ways to manage your stress and anxiety related to COVID-19 burnout.
1. Accept it. Know that burnout is extremely normal
Every one of us is experiencing an increased frequency of stress responses throughout the day. That’s because this is all new to humanity, even though it’s been over a year. It is important to remind yourself that it is completely normal to feel the way you are feeling. Be self-compassionate and treat yourself like you would treat a best friend.
2. Engage your feelings. Don’t shut them out
Take a few minutes during the day to conduct a personal mental health check-in. This is a very important part of stress management. The persistence of anxiety, irritability, frustration, deep sadness, and overwhelming feelings are some of the emotional signs of stress. Loss of attention and failure to make decisions are two mental symptoms.
Stress appears in the mental, emotional, and physical faculties. So you can try incorporating breathing exercises during the day, and finding your own self-care routine that works for your schedule.
3. Break it down. Make sure to rest throughout the day
It’s important to take scheduled breaks to rest your mind and reset throughout the day. Find a quiet space and try to be mindful of any internal chatter and anxiety monologues. Step away from the screen, take a walk, or engage in a physical activity. You will feel so much better after.
4. Self-soothe. Incorporate ways to relax your senses
The use of sensory-soothing practices to relax the nervous system and facilitate trauma recovery has been shown in studies. Take time during the day to indulge in sensory-soothing exercises, such as listening to soothing music, visualizing places where you feel at ease, and imagining your favorite culinary aromas that evoke meaningful feelings.
We hope that these prevention and management methods will help with your burnout as it has with our own. As a final step, you can also incorporate mobility exercises into your daily routine because they’ve been proven to help those with depression and can help you out of our COVID rut as well.