This is a guest post by The wonderful, Luke Smith. Thank you, Luke, for writing this for me.
To say the past year has been overwhelming might be an understatement — especially for remote employees. Between finding quality childcare, juggling a work-life balance, and staying afloat throughout a pandemic, the weight on remote workers is heavier than ever.
There are still some unfortunate stereotypes that make people believe working remotely is “easy” or more relaxing. While working from home certainly has its benefits, it can also sometimes be even harder than a traditional in-person job. A recent Monster.com survey found that 51% of people working from home experienced burnout, and more than half of them didn’t have any plans to take time off or decompress any time soon.
If you’re a remote employee, this probably already sounds familiar. You might feel like you always have to be “on”, or that you’re never truly off the clock. Unfortunately, that mindset on top of everything else going on in the world today can lead to burnout, and even mental health conditions if you don’t do something to put a stop to it.
So, how can you avoid burnout as a remote employee? Is there really such a thing as a healthy work-life balance when you’re working from home? Let’s find out.
Manage Your Time Effectively
One of the most difficult things for a remote worker is striking a balance between work life and home life. When your office is in your home, it’s easy to get distracted or caught up in everything that needs to be done in your life outside of work. That affects productivity, can increase your stress levels, and eventually can make you feel behind and overwhelmed.
On the other hand, you might feel guilty if you’re working all of the time, or late into the evenings. If you’re not able to spend quality time with your family at home or not able to unwind on your own each night, you’re not managing your time the way you should.
If you’re struggling to find that balance, one of the best things you can do is to create a schedule and routine. Try to wake up at the same time each day and have a morning routine that allows you to “go to work” at a specific time. Then, set working hours during the day. Make sure anyone who lives with you understands that during those hours, you aren’t available unless you’re taking a break.
Speaking of which, don’t be afraid to do just that! Breaks are important in the workplace, even at home. If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, take a few minutes to reduce your stress by trying breathing exercises or practicing mindfulness, even at your desk.
When you set up a schedule for yourself, you’re less likely to let your work life bleed into your personal time. It’s better for your mental health, and better for the people you care about.
Spend Time With Loved Ones
Speaking about those people, they can play a crucial role in helping you avoid burnout. Lean on those you live with, and spend as much time with them as possible outside of your working hours. If it helps to get away from home, go for a walk as a family, or go out to dinner with some friends.
Even if you’re unable to do many things with people in-person due to the pandemic, connect in other ways. Get together for weekly video chats, and make sure you’re thoroughly planning major events like family birthday parties, especially if they’re virtual. Other ideas to find that connection with people you care about include:
● Having a group text message
● Video chatting every day
● Meeting at a park to talk while socially distanced
● Having coffee together while distanced
Don’t be afraid to get creative to find the support you need from friends and family. It can make a huge difference in how you feel about your personal life and your career.
Practice Purposeful Self-Care
Self-care is more than just a buzzword or a way to “treat yourself.” It’s one of the most effective ways to manage your mental health daily by doing things that relax you and things you enjoy. While it looks different for everyone, self-care can involve making your every day needs a priority, including things like:
● Cooking/eating healthy meals
● Meditating/practicing mindfulness
Getting enough sleep each nice is also important to your overall health and wellbeing. Make sure you have a healthy sleep routine and you’re going to bed each night at a time that will allow you to get enough rest. If you have a mattress that is causing you pain, it’s worth it to get a different one. If your mind is restless before you fall asleep, try ditching your phone or other electronics an hour or two before bed. Find what works for you as part of a routine so you can get as much rest as possible.
Self-care also involves acknowledging when you need help, or when you need a break. You might not think you’re allotted any sick days or mental health days as a remote employee. But, that simply isn’t true. Whether you are a freelancer or you work from home for an existing business, you’re entitled to take a break when you need it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, give yourself a day to decompress. It’s estimated that 45% of people working from home feel guilty about taking a sick day. But, being hard on yourself will only make things worse and create a vicious cycle when it comes to stress and feelings of depression. You deserve to feel good while you’re working.
When you take the time to take care of yourself, manage your stress, and develop a healthy work-life balance, you’re less likely to burn out. You’ll also improve your productivity, and may even find more joy out of your work. Allow yourself the things you need in life to avoid burnout and to experience a long, fulfilling career that doesn’t consume your entire life.
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but leadership and digital marketing topics are his favourite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.
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