Working from home during coronavirus: How to avoid burnout

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While rolling out of bed to sign in to work from the couch may have seemed like a dream scenario just a few weeks ago, many are struggling to find ways to cope with their newfound reality as the coronavirus outbreak wanes on. What may have once been exciting and interesting may now seem dull and monotonous, without face-to-face interaction, which can signal impending burnout.

“There are a number of signs of burnout, it usually has to do with stress that eventually wears someone down and then goes into burnout,” Dr. Rob Fazio, psychologist and managing partner of OnPoint Advising, told Fox News. “Some of the signs are when you make that shift from being anxious or stressed to really losing motivation, that internal drive.”

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Fazio said people may begin losing focus or can feel themselves disengaging from work and having less energy, or even notice that their emotions are blunted.

“With stress, oftentimes emotions can be high or intense,” he said. “With burnout, oftentimes you have less intense emotions.”

Working from home for this period of time may also be difficult because there isn’t necessarily a time frame for when it may be over. Separating your work from home life may prove difficult, especially if there are children in the home with you. Fazio said that while he and his wife, who also works full-time, are splitting the care of their 4-year-old, sometimes he isn’t able to give his child his full attention due to work, which can take a toll on a person.

“That can wear you down if left unchecked,” he said.

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It’s also important to recognize that you are not alone in feeling this way, Fazio said, while recognizing that people who travel for business or are used to seeing colleagues around the office are also going through a period of adjustment.

“If you look at social media, people were really energetic the first week or so, putting all their posts and their workouts and everything, and now you’re starting to see that decline because there isn’t yet a light at the end of the tunnel and we’re already a couple [of] weeks in, so that can really create burnout for some people,” he said.

There are steps you can take to avoid burnout, however, which include recognizing some of the signs in yourself before they set in. Fazio also advises doing something to “reset,” or pull you away from the work so that you can go back and refocus. Lastly, he recommends rebuilding, which allows you to do something that encourages learning or growth.

“What’s key here is knowing yourself and knowing what energizes you and drains you,” he said, adding that the same methods for resetting and refocusing won’t be the same for everyone.

While a 15-minute conversation with coworkers about something other than work may be beneficial for some, others may be more responsive to a quick chat with their boss about work goals and career aspirations.

Reaching out and emotionally connecting with someone can also help to create an anxiety and burnout buffer, Fazio said, which can include teaching something to someone.

“Reach out and help people, teach someone something that you’re really good at – or offer someone some help,” he said. “That has a psychological and physiological impact.”

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Fazio said it’s also important during this time to give yourself a break and to recognize that productivity has a different definition at the moment, and not everything is going to be perfect.

“If you’re going to be effective at work and you’re going to be there for other people, you have to practice some type of self-care, whatever that it is,” he said. “Really knowing how you’re built and what types of interactions you want.”