Work from home they said, it will be great they said…

work from home burnout

Work from home burnout. Let’s talk about it. How it is possible to feel so drained when you haven’t even left the house? I mean, you didn’t even have to wake up super early, do the morning song and dance to get ready, load up and drive to work, and deal with all that morning rush hour traffic. So this should be easy breezy, am I right?

Working from home isn’t a vacay

Working from home is surprisingly not the vacation it once sounded like it would be. We’re all in the thick of it now and we realize the paradise on the horizon was just a mirage. Our peaceful abode is starting to feel like a boring box we’re trapped in. The world is uncertain outside and this should be our safe zone. It should be peaceful. I should be relaxed and full of endless energy and inspiration. But, you’re not. Instead, you’re drained, grumpy, and mentally foggy. So, what is going on?!

Burnout is what’s going on. Burnout is real and you could very well be experiencing it all while working from home. When we talk about burnout, we typically talk about dealing with the outside hustle and bustle and going into the office. But burnout is not that black and white. It can happen no matter where we are or what is keeping us busy.

All things considered, burnout is not a dragon that can’t be slayed. Let’s talk about how you can conquer this beast and avoid getting burned in the future. First let’s clear the air.

What exactly is burnout?

Well, I’m glad you asked friend! Burnout is mental, physical, and/or emotional exhaustion you can suffer from having to deal with prolonged stress. You may find yourself with a never-ending empty bowl that just can’t be refilled. It doesn’t just happen to stockbrokers that work on Wall Street, or doctors, or lawyers. It can happen to all of us, no matter how busy we may or may not be.

Symptoms of Burnout

Now you may be wondering, “how do I even know if I’m burned out?” It seems so vague. Let’s review some of the symptoms.

  • Cynicism. Perhaps you find yourself with a constant, overall negative attitude like you keep waking up on the wrong side of the bed day after day after day.
  • Dread. Do you wake up dreading the day, like you have to drag yourself out of bed and to work (or the couch) mentally kicking and screaming the whole way?
  • Fatigue. Often people describe a never-ending fatigue that even the most delicious coffee just won’t touch.
  • Loss of Interest. Things you once enjoyed can’t even make you crack a smile now, no matter how funny something would be if weren’t in this state of mind.
  • Grouchy. You could find yourself impatient, cranky, and feeling on edge. You know, that feeling of “if one more bad thing happens I’m going to blow!”
  • Difficulty Concentrating. Maybe you can’t concentrate and no amount of caffeine will get your mind to do what you want.
  • Trouble Sleeping. Even though you’re always exhausted, maybe you are seriously struggling with falling asleep at night (how is that even possible?!)
  • Crying. You may find yourself breaking down and crying for seemingly no reason (but- spoiler alert- there is actually a reason).
  • Physical Symptoms. And let us not forget those telltale physical signs your body gives you when you’re too stubborn to recognize you need to recharge: headaches, muscle pain, frequent illness due to lowered immune system, or an upset stomach. Our bodies have an interesting way of really being a bro when we don’t pay attention to emotional and mental struggles.

Slaying the Burnout Beast

Alright, so now that we’ve detailed all those pesky symptoms of burnout, let’s talk about slaying that burnout beast. How can you deal with burnout? One major issue people pleasers have is saying no, establishing/maintaining boundaries, and knowing our personal limits. These skills are crucial to steering clear of burnout. If you take on too much, you can become overwhelmed and stressed out for so long you crash and burn(out). It’s important to say no and ask ourselves, “how much energy will I have after I take on this new task?” You may have to say no to favors for others or say no to yourself if you’re someone that wants to do it all. You can’t always do all the things and you owe it to yourself to say no, stick to clear boundaries, and chill.

What about boundaries and working from home? How do you achieve a work-life balance when your work is invading your home life? It’s important to create some sense of normalcy. Having clear cut “clock in and clock out” time is crucial here. Just because you’re home, doesn’t mean you have to work around the clock. Work just like you would in the office- whatever hours those are- and do not, I repeat do not, do work outside of your “office” hours. It’s also helpful to have a specific dedicated work space at home, whether it’s an office, spare room, corner, kitchen table, patio, etc. Dedicate one space to work and don’t work outside of that space. Keep work and life separate to maintain that delicate healthy balance.

Getting re-energized

Okay, so now that those not-so-fun things are out of the way, why don’t we switch gears and talk about things we can actually enjoy? What makes you feel calm, happy, and reenergized? These coping skills are the perfect weapons to slay that burnout beast. Whether it’s reading, meditating, exercise, vegging out and watching TV, cooking, being outside, listening to music, hanging out with friends or family, or whatever your heart desires, do it. If you so much as ask yourself if it was enough, do it more. You’ll feel the results when it’s enough. If you’re one of the many people reading this and thinking, “I don’t have time for all that!” believe me, you do. If you’re a scheduler, schedule self-care time and thank me later.

Let’s not forget about those big-ticket “treat yo’self” items. Whether it’s getting a massage, getting your hair cut, going to a nail salon, traveling, going to Six Flags, shopping, etc. It’s important to do those things when you can. If you can’t do it now, you can still enjoy planning to do so in the future. Try it out!

Believe it or not, self-compassion is a key piece to extinguishing burn out. Showing yourself the love and compassion you show others is tremendously important to deal with and avoid burnout. You deserve all the good you give to the world. Trust me. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to do it all. As a matter of fact, it’s impossible! No need to try to become something that simply can’t exist.

Getting help

Finally, speaking with a compassionate therapist can be a crucial key in managing stress and dealing with burnout. A skilled and experienced therapist can help you navigate burnout and find what weapons you hold to slay that beast. Now is the time to take action and emerge from those flames. If you’re ready to be kind to yourself and feel balanced again, schedule an appointment with a counselor that gets what you’re going through today either through the client portal or call the office at 770-283-8386. We can help you slay the burnout beast like the champion you are.

Nadya Clontz is a licensed associate professional counselor at Empower Counseling Center LLC. She helps ambitious over-achievers pick themselves back up after life has drop kicked them to the ground. She loves helping people find their new normal so they can thrive — even if life didn’t turn out how it was planned. 

4411 Suwanee Dam Road, Suite 450
Suwanee, GA 30024

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