• Jason Wilkinson

Burnout: How to Achieve Work/Life Balance in a Work From Home World


Lines are really blurred in the work/life balance thanks to all the working from home that is taking place. And when the work/life balance gets out of whack, burnout is the next thing to likely begin to happen.


Throughout Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Portland, and the rest of Oregon, people are working from home like never before. At first it may have felt nice to be able to work from home, with lots of flexibility. But this has gone on for a while now. And people are feeling exhausted.


You might be feeling less motivated with your work. Your mood might be described as anxious. Depressed. Frustrated. Maybe even angry. For sure you could use some help with stress.


You could be experiencing burnout. But with at least a few more months left of working from home, it might be a good idea to revisit some ideas or thoughts to help you keep your sanity, to self-regulate, and keep you from burning out while live the work from home lifestyle.


Tip #1: Work from Home Burnout — Create Designated Workspace:


If you want to achieve a healthier work/life balance, this is a simple step you can take. Do you have a space set up where you can work? If not, consider creating one. Make it a space that you use only for when you are working.


I know. It can be so tempting to work on your laptop from your bed or on the couch, but you should try to resist this. Even if it is late at night and you just remembered that you forgot an email. Go into your workspace and complete it. Have that discipline.


This will help you to create the mindset of when it is time to work, and when it is time to check out.


Having a designated workspace will also help you get into the flow for when it is time to work. Ideally, your workspace will have less distractions, but won’t be so comfortable that you fall asleep while trying to work. Of course, I won’t blame you if you schedule time for afternoon naps.


Tip #2: Work from Home Burnout — Set Boundaries on Time:


Speaking of scheduled naps, working from home has tremendous benefits and flexibility. You can take a Netflix break at 10am, 2pm and 4pm if you want. That’s really nice. The downside is that every day could look different and you are unintentionally keeping your mind and body from creating a healthy pattern or expectation.

Perhaps more importantly, though, is creating a consistent start time and end time for your day. Something similar to when you arrive and leave an office or place of business. Many of us are struggling to know when it is time to shut off the “work self.” This is having an impact on our relationships. It is impacting our ability for leisure or rest. Our work/life balance is uneven. And this means that we are far more disposed to to work burnout.


Tip #3: Work from Home Burnout — Home from Work Rituals:


We used to have a commute home from an office space or place of work to help us transition back into home life. This was a valuable ritual that allowed you to process your day or clear your mind before entering into the home.


Now, it probably looks a little more like moving from one room in our home to a different room. In other words, there is less time for transition.


With our mind constantly churning on work and without the time to transition, our relationships take a hit. We likely are not communicating as well as we’d like with our spouse or partner. We tend to say hurtful things to our spouse or partner when we are not taking time to transition.


Consider building some rituals that signify to your brain that you are “home from work.” That look like changing from your “work clothes” to the more comfortable sweatpants. A few other ideas could be:

· A cup of tea that you drink when done with work for the day

· A shower

· A set number of pushups

· Taking out the earphones

· A quick meditation or deep breathing exercise


What other rituals might you be able to come up with that would communicate to yourself and others that you are “home from work.”


Tip #4: Work from Home Burnout — Use Your Weekends:


For real. If you are working on your days off, then you’re work/life balance definitely requires some attention.


I know how tempting it is to use your weekend to catch up on tasks. There is something about working from home that makes it feel like you are consistently behind – like you will never be able to catch up. This produces a lot of anxiety and stress. And, so, you figure that you will make up for it by working on the weekends.


It is commendable that you have such a strong work ethic. And…it’s not going to serve you well if it leads to exhaustion, anxiety and depression. It is not going to serve you well if it leads to conflict in your marriage or relationship.


You need to take time off. Safeguard the weekends as much as possible. It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever need to work from home for a couple of hours on a day off. But creating strong boundaries around it will help with having a healthy work/life balance that will keep you from straying towards burnout.


Tip #5: Work from Home Burnout — Take Your Vacations:


It is estimated that 768 million vacation days went unused for Americans last year. These are days that your place of business has provided for you to rest and recharge. As a young professional, it can be hard to take vacation days. You are trying to impress your employers. You have career goals that you are trying to reach. And taking vacation isn’t really modeled well.


Taking vacation days can help you avoid much of the stress, anxiety and burnout that can often come with demanding jobs, however. Take advantage of the benefit of vacation days. Even if you aren’t going to be taking any trips. Otherwise, you’re just handing those days over to your job.


Tip #6: Work from Home Benefit — Develop a Self-Care Mindset:


If this is your first or second job, you may walk into it thinking that your job is going to take care of you. After all, the employee handbook provides details of all the benefits that you will have working at that place of business.


Here’s the truth: it is unlikely that anyone is babysitting you. There is no one else who is going to take care of your mental, emotional, or physical health at your work. There is no one there who is going to take care of your marriage.


Your employer wants to know how much you are going to produce for the company. It doesn’t mean that it is an evil or bad company. It means that the values may not match up completely.


So, take responsibility for yourself and for what you want out of life. What steps do you need to take to reach those desires? What do you need to do to help you reach those personal goals — both in the long and short-term?


Conclusion:


This work-from-home life is full of benefits… and challenges. Creating a balance between work and life is not easy. But if you spend time creating the necessary boundaries, you can protect yourself from burnout.


And if you are thinking that the work stress and anxiety is too much or are already feeling burned-out and wondering what to do next, consider finding a professional mental health counselor to help you find freedom and joy once again.

Jason Wilkinson is the owner of the private practice, Wellspace Counseling, located in Tualatin, Oregon. He helps young professionals and individuals, and teens experiencing anxiety to find the freedom to live the life they want to live. Wellspace Counseling serves the cities of Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Tigard and others in the Greater Portland Metro Area.

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