We hear a lot about how to avoid burnout when working remotely and for good reason. Blurred lines between work and home life can lead to longer workdays which can exacerbate symptoms leading to burnout. While not a recognized medical condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019 included burnout in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
Stanford researchers studied how workplace stress affects healthcare costs and mortality in the US and found it led to spending $190 billion and 120,000 deaths. The WHO estimates that $1 trillion is lost in productivity per year due to employee depression and anxiety. Burnout is dangerous and in extreme cases deadly. The onus falls equally on organizations and employees to recognize the signs of burnout and address them.
For remote work professionals often in control of our schedules, it’s critical to build healthy habits. You will find a lot of information online recommending exercise, disconnecting, and other self-care activities so we wanted to provide some lesser-known techniques that we find particularly helpful.
Do What Brings You Joy
At first glance, your reaction may be “Well sure, but how do I do that?” (don’t worry, we did too!) but this relates to tasks! Handoff and delegate any tasks that you don’t like doing to people who love doing them. Now your days will be filled with things you enjoy doing instead of things you dread doing.
According to Buffer 18% of people working remote struggle with unplugging after work. For this hack, we look to our friends, the Germans. Feierabend has two meanings: 1) it’s the time you stop working and 2) it’s the time between work and when you go to bed. It’s an important part of the day and Germans take it seriously. It’s time we do, too!
While many celebrate the end of the workday with a “Feierabendbierchen” (literally a “party-evening-little-beer”) this isn’t just a mark of happy hour. From an article by BBC, Gene Gerrienne explains how (a Köln, Germany native) adopting a Feierabend ritual is important “to connect to your core, meaning your family, your friends or your hobbies”. To build Feierabend into your day we recommend planning family, friends, and wellness events directly after your workday to stay accountable. Soon you will reclaim your free time and may even find yourself being more efficient during your workday because you know there’s a quitting time.
Laughing Out Loud
Laughing is a highly effective way to reduce stress levels and according to the Mayo Clinic, there are both short and long-term benefits. Short-term benefits include: Activating and releasing your stress response and soothing tension. Laughing delivers more oxygen, stimulates your heart, lungs & muscles, and increases endorphins that are released by your brain. Long term you can look forward to an improved immune system, pain relief, improved moods, and increased personal satisfaction.
Here are some easy ways to keep laughter in your day:
- Listen to comedy. You can find great comedy on YouTube, Netflix, Spotify and there are plenty of comedy podcasts to choose from. We recommend creating a routine of streaming comedy when you’re doing light work (vs deep work). If you have a virtual space, you can connect a YouTube or Spotify directly.
- Learn to laugh at yourself. When you start to feel tension or stress coming on smile and laugh to yourself. Forced at first, it will soon become second nature.
- Decorate your office and home with things that make you laugh. Could be a funny picture or your favorite joke. Anything works if it gets you giggling.
Body doubling is a unique tool used in the ADHD community to help get things done and it can help you work more efficiently so you can avoid burnout. According to ADDitutde Magazine having another person around helps you “stay focused on housework, homework, bill paying, and other tasks”. If you struggle staying on track or getting things done, ask someone to be your body double. This can work both in real life or virtually (in your virtual space!).
Workfrom crew member Eric shared Homenauts with the team and it’s a fantastic website to find free resources for better mental health to help avoid burnout. It has it all from sofa singing to dinner parties and more.
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