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Dealing with the Stress of Working from Home

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September 16, 2020 | Published by


Workplace burnout isn’t exclusive to people who put in long hours at the office. It’s also a threat to the millions of people currently working from home. In fact, in a recent Monster survey, 51% of respondents acknowledged experiencing burnout while working from home.1 Burnout happens when you face higher levels of stress over an extended period of time and it can affect your mental health, as well as your physical health.2

“With the suddenness and degree of the shift to remote work, the loss of childcare, and all of the worries that accompany the pandemic and its economic fallout, all of the things that typically cause burnout are intensified, which means the risk of burnout is intensified,” said Vanessa K. Bohns, associate professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University.2

Burnout risk factors include:

Disappearing boundaries

Commuting to and from work every day is a boundary that helps separate your work from your personal life. While eliminating work travel can certainly be a benefit, it also means there is no barrier between work and home.

It’s also easy to find yourself working beyond your typical work hours when you don’t take time away from your work. One way to battle working around the clock is to establish clear boundaries. Create a cut off time for when you will finish working, with barriers like not working in the evenings or on the weekends. It can also help to make non-work time feel different, like changing into more comfortable clothes, to indicate a break from work.2

Lack of control

Feeling like you don’t have control of your schedule or time management can put you at risk of burning out. Creating a schedule that specifies work, family and free time can assist in regaining some sense of control, especially during times of uncertainty.2

Lacking social connections

Working from home with a house full of people can still feel isolating. A significant way of avoiding burnout is by having colleagues you can turn to when you’re are under elevated stress. Lacking that sort of built-in support system at home can make one feel distant.2

Since maintaining social interactions with coworkers can take much more effort while working from home, it’s important to make an effort to reach out. Consider setting up phone or video meetings to help preserve these relationships.2

Not getting “me time”

Many individuals can forget about self-care when working from home due to hectic scheduling. Instead of constantly multitasking, try slowing down for an afternoon and focusing on a task that brings you pleasure.2

Tips for Managing the Stress of Working at Home3

Create a routine

  • Stick with your normal work hours. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you are on the clock 24/7. Stick to your typical start and stop times.
  • Take your lunch break in a place away from your work area.

Set workspace boundaries

  • Instead of working from spaces you find when you’re not working (e.g. your bed, the couch), set a designated workspace and only work from that area.
  • Turn off any work-related devices at the end of your shift.

Enlist someone to hold you accountable

  • Maintaining a healthy work/life balance takes consistency and discipline. Having a friend or family member to help hold you accountable can be very helpful.
  • Make your friends and family aware of your work schedule. It can advantageous to have a person that can help remind you when it’s time to stop and start work.

Stay connected with another individual

  • Having a network of colleagues, other work-from-home friends, and fellow like-minded individuals can be helpful when feeling isolated.
  • Utilize social media platforms to help stay in touch.

Reward yourself

  • Create personal rewards to help keep you motivated.
  • Permit yourself a few moments of self-care each day.

While working from home comes with its own distinct set of stressors, it can be extremely helpful to practice awareness and gratitude for your employment. Try reminding yourself why you do what you do and about your accomplishments in your career.4

References:

  1. Fox, M. Americans are burned out working from home. Here’s how to cope. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/21/americans-are-burned-out-working-from-home-heres-how-to-cope.html
  2. Vasel, K. You can burn out when you’re working from home, too. CNN Business. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/20/success/burnout-work-from-home-wellness/index.html
  3. Working From Home: A New Normal? CNYBHCC. https://www.cnybhcc.health/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Working-from-home-tips.pdf
  4. Bragg, N. Can I still go for a walk, run under stay at home orders? Should I wear a mask? USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/health/2020/04/15/coronavirus-masks-how-safely-go-outside-during-stay-home-order/2970072001/

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