How to Prevent Burnout (When Working from Home)

The monotony of working in lockdown can be mentally exhausting — no commute or socialising with colleagues at the office can quickly take its toll on your mindset, making every day feel the same. Along with the lockdown, data has shown that feelings of burnout and stress are on the rise amongst remote workers, with 60% of people admitting they struggle to stay positive compared with before the pandemic. This can have a direct result on professional performance, which only increases workplace stress. But there are small changes you can make to your everyday life to prevent burnout. These are easy to maintain, can ease stress and anxiety, and help you return to a positive mindset.

Work out regularly

There is no denying how good regular exercise is for our physical health, so it’s important to take time out to stretch your muscles and get away from the computer screen. However, it’s also been proven that working out brings huge benefits to mental health by relieving stress and feelings of depression and anxiety, which can arise if you’re experiencing burnout. Regular exercise can improve your memory too, helping you remember work deadlines hit your targets to reduce additional stress.

We know that working remotely can make it hard to find a reason to get out and move your body. In fact, there may be days you don’t leave your house at all. But if you can’t bring yourself to go for a run or a bike ride, you can exercise indoors, and certainly don’t need any fancy gym equipment to do so. Even just stretching your muscles daily through yoga or Pilates sessions will do you the world of good. For something slightly challenging, try a barre workout, which combines yoga and Pilates elements with ballet principles for a ‘low-impact, high-intensity workout’ targeting all the major muscle groups and smaller muscles you probably haven’t engaged since pre-pandemic. Or if you want to put your body through a truly intense workout, try some of these HIIT exercises to build your own circuit.

Take frequent breaks

Taking frequent breaks is important for maintaining productivity during the workday as it breaks up the time spent on individual tasks. Switching off and giving your mind a rest can improve productivity and prevent what’s known as ‘decision fatigue’, which refers to the quality of decisions deteriorating after a lengthy period of decision making. By taking regular breaks, you will continue to look at what you’re doing with fresh eyes, rather than becoming used to your task and potentially making silly mistakes. It will also encourage you to switch off from work, separating your personal and professional lives and making it easier to disengage from your job at the end of the day.

Going out for fresh air is recommended when taking breaks as it clears your lungs and brings more oxygen into your bloodstream, which can boost brain function. In turn, this improves how responsive you are to tasks during the working day — vital for keeping your creative juices flowing. Go for a walk at lunchtime, or spend some time in your garden or local park every so often while you work from home.

Maintain a routine

Working in a set office or other location helps you distinguish between your professional and personal lives, making it even easier to switch between the two. However, being at home means that you’re working and relaxing in the same place, so creating a routine — and sticking to it — is very important. This gives your day structure, ensuring that your body and mind associate specific times with working hours. Once you reach the end of your working day, switch off your computer and move to another area of your home so your mind stops thinking about your job.

In turn, this leaves you free to focus on any hobbies you have outside your working hours. This can have a huge impact on your mental health — it’s been reported that spending just 20 minutes on leisure activities every week is linked to lower blood pressure, feelings of depression, and levels of cortisol (your stress hormone). Being able to reduce this negativity in your personal life naturally feeds into your professional life, keeping your stress levels controlled and ultimately stopping a potential burnout.

Get enough rest

Resting can be anything from relaxing to sleeping, and it is crucial for your physical and mental wellbeing. Taking time to unwind gives you the energy to get through the day and deal with any stress you may face, which, in turn, eases feelings of burnout. It’s said that 42% of your time should be spent resting, working out to 10 hours out of every 24. This includes the seven to nine hours of sleep you should be getting, on average.

This rest time allows you to practice self-care and ensure you’re listening to your body and mind. Being more in tune with yourself means you’re more likely to notice any small changes to your mental wellbeing, including feelings of stress. Being able to catch this early — and working on the cause — will help you avoid feeling burnt out later down the line.

Whether you’re looking forward to your return to the office, or you’re happy to continue working remotely, it’s important to make your mental health your number one priority. Burnout can drastically affect your wellbeing, so actively trying to avoid such feelings is only a good thing for your personal and professional health.

Sophia Anderson

Sophia Anderson is a blogger and a freelance writer. She is passionate about covering topics on money, business, careers, self-improvement, motivation and others. She believes in the driving force of positive attitude and constant development.