No commute! Work in your pajamas! Sounds like a cakewalk, but burnout can happen in all kinds of conditions, even if you normally work from home, are a stay at home parent or your job has been furloughed. Any time you are burning your candle at both ends you leave yourself vulnerable to ultimately being burned in the middle. I’m there myself! That’s why I created the 10 Things to Create a Burnout Barrier.
While having the choice to work from home may sometimes be a relief, being forced to work from home, with no relief, no direct contact with others, no choice is incredibly stressful.
You want to do a terrific job, but your resources, your workspace, your alone time to think or zone out during your regular commute, are all gone!
You used to go out to dinner or grab a drink with friends, you now have Netflix as your primary support system. Are you also a parent? There are constant distractions and other roles to fulfill like teacher, short-order cook, and referee.
The housework has doubled because everyone is home, all the time, and food shopping has become a marathon stressful event. What used to be manageable juggling has turned into swimming in a pool of distraction and anxiety with no end in sight. You need a burnout barrier.
The antidote to anxiety and stress is to control what you can.
Avoid burnout! Control is always just a breath away. You can always choose to pause and breathe. Just sit. Close your eyes. Watch your breath flow in and out. Slowly deepen each inhale and exhale.
Ask for Help
If you are responsible for other humans and they are old enough to help, let them. In fact, insist on it. Even a 4-year-old can help dust or gather dirty clothes in a pile. Set up house rules: wash hands, no dirty dishes left in the sink, beds get made, underwear gets changed, everyone helps with dinner. Whatever is most helpful to create a burnout barrier.
How you think about stress matters. Stress can lead to burnout because stress is stressful – what is there to consider? Your body experiences negative stress and positive excitement exactly the same way. How you interpret incoming stimuli is up to you.
People who see stress as a challenge that they can overcome instead of something negative that is happening to them are likely to live longer. Even the loss of your job, while a reality you may not want, can be a blessing in disguise. Perhaps it pushes you to try something new, or it allows you to focus on enjoying your children. Even if it is challenging because of the loss of income you can still choose to see it as a challenge you can rise to instead of something thrust upon you for which you have no control. Your choice.
Get up before everyone else
I find one of the best ways fo me to create a burnout barrier is to give yourself the gift of quiet in the morning. Use that time to double down on your self-care. Ideas: have a cup of warm tea, coffee, or better yet, water with lemon while you open a window and listen to birdsong. Meditate for 5 minutes. Write in a gratitude journal. Get 20 minutes of exercise. Write down your goals for the day and make a plan. Take a hot shower. Get dressed – it will feel better than pajamas all day.
Take regular breaks
If you are sitting all day – don’t forget to get up at least once an hour. Stretch. Grab some water. Every couple of hours take a breathing break. Play a song you love. Not only does it provide you with a burnout barrier it gets you moving and can help you burn calories, too. Bonus!
Say no to burnout! If you can, close your work for the day. It helps to list everything that needs to get done the next day so you can walk away without worrying that you’ll forget something. Make it a ritual to straighten up and shut your computer.
Leave time to unwind
Sit and enjoy dinner. Plan an activity with others; with your family if they are with you, or virtually. You can have a virtual happy hour, dinner, or visit. Use the House Party app to gather friends and play some games. Read for pleasure or personal growth. You’ll be amazed how this can create a burnout barrier for ou and your loved ones! Take this time even if you have to work after the kids go to bed.
Creativity keeps you happy and engaged. Try some new recipes, craft, play, or write music. Learn a new tech skill. Write poetry or a story. Write an article. Journal. Make a play with your kids – spend the week practicing, working on costumes and props – then perform it virtually or tape it and share it with family. Fantasize about vacations you’ll take and then have everyone research activities in that area. Make a PowerPoint together about anything. Get creative about getting creative! Burnout can’t find space when you are in a creative mood so no burnout barrier needed, here!
Move your body
Move purposefully. Get outside if possible and safe. There are unlimited resources – just google whatever you enjoy doing and something will pop up! Check your cable tv, YouTube, and Facebook. Get an app. Heck, just do some old gym moves like jumping jacks, squats, pushups, jogging in place. Turn up the tunes and get your dance on.
While crunching chips and scarfing ice cream give us a burst of momentary pleasure, eating healthy, nutritious food helps you feel great in the long run. Check out the My Plate and other healthy living information at CDC.gov. Fruits, vegetables, and fiber help keep you satisfied, keep your mood stable, and can help you look and feel fantastic. Get creative. Make it colorful. Make it delicious. Use online resources. There are hundreds of Quarantine “how-to” cooking videos.
Remember that you have so much more than you can control than you might realize. Start with making a list of your top 3 non-negotiables that can help you center and feel more in charge. Ask for the appreciation you need if it’s not forthcoming. Say “NO” when possible. Remain flexible so you can bend with the wind and not break in trying to fight it.
Even if you can manage to accomplish all 10 just a few of these can help you to live a more enjoyable and meaningful life now and when things get back to “normal”.
Stay well, my friends.
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