The future is looking hopeful for 2021 as we see the rollout of vaccines around the world and eased restrictions surrounding border closures, lockdowns and social distancing across the country. However, it’s expected that COVID-19 will cause long-lasting impacts on society. A global issue that experts expect will spike as a result of the pandemic is mental burnout.
Those on the frontline have faced the virus head-on, which has understandably caused a rise in anxiety among many of these workers. A survey of NHS staff in England revealed that 69% of the respondents rated their anxiety levels as 5 or above, and 7% reported reconsidering their career in healthcare once the pandemic comes to an end (Pharma Nord, 2021). In Australia, despite the lower levels of contact with the virus, moderate to high levels of psychological distress were reported. This study of healthcare workers in Australia found that self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD were of a moderate-to-severe level, comparable to rates reported by countries who have been severely impacted by the virus.
But the risk of burnout trickles down through all branches of society. Parents faced unprecedented pressures in 2020 as schools went into lockdown, forcing them to juggle their working life, family health and the education of their children. For office workers, basing themselves from home has blurred the lines between the two, making it difficult for employees to maintain balance in their lives. Restrictions on physical exercise and barriers to social interaction are also believed to be factors contributing to reduced mental health amongst the public.
If you’re wondering whether you may be experiencing burnout, the following are some key symptoms to be mindful of:
- Exhaustion – mental, physical or emotional
- Unusual negative emotions such as frustration or cynicism
- Trouble concentrating or mustering motivation
- Decreased performance in your work
- General feelings of dissatisfaction
- Health problems manifested from severe ongoing stress
If any or all of these ring true for you, there are multiple ways you can cultivate a path to recovery.
Remaining constantly connected may be one source of worry and tension that you can alleviate by simply switching off. Allow yourself time in the day to step away from the demands that others may have of you. Not only does this give you the opportunity to recharge, but it also prevents disruptions seeping into your life outside of work.
Commit to wellness rituals
What rituals do you have in your daily routine that are purely for recentering yourself? If you don’t have any, now is the perfect time to discover what works for you. It may be meditating, stretching, going for a 10-minute walk outside – it doesn’t need to be long, it just needs to be consistent. Treat it with as much importance as you would a work meeting or dropping your children off to school.
Take time to truly relax
Not only is it important to take a break from your work and your routine, but what you do with this time will make the difference as to whether you reap any benefit. Understand what activities help you unwind from the stress of your day and help you feel refreshed afterwards as well.
Change your environment
Shifting your physical location can have an amazing effect on your mindset. If you’re able to take the time to escape on a vacation, even a few days can have wondrous benefits. If that isn’t possible for you in the near future, try working from a different location or taking a day trip to spend some time in nature.
Sleep is paramount when it comes to recovering from burnout. Less than six hours of sleep per night can have significant health consequences such as fatigue, lack of motivation, hindered mental judgement and function, and heightened sensitivity to stressful events. If you have difficulty getting quality sleep, try to avoid consuming caffeine after 3:00 pm, set a consistent bedtime to train your body clock, ensure your room temperature is comfortable, and practice a routine before bed that helps you relax.
If you feel as though you’re experiencing symptoms of burnout, tune in and listen to your body. Now is your chance to press pause and adjust your routine to accommodate rituals, activities and healthy habits that can rejuvenate your mental and physical wellbeing before more serious consequences may occur. Your health should always come first and foremost, so try some of our suggestions above and notice the difference in your emotions, thoughts, attitudes and overall wellbeing.