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How can I prevent burnout? How do I rebalance my life?

Since the pandemic began, everyone’s lifestyle has changed to some extent. We spend more time at home, but we don’t have as much time for ourselves and our family. Even though there should be more opportunities to bond with our children and our partner, there may be more conflict and confrontation within the family. With […]

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Since the pandemic began, everyone’s lifestyle has changed to some extent. We spend more time at home, but we don’t have as much time for ourselves and our family. Even though there should be more opportunities to bond with our children and our partner, there may be more conflict and confrontation within the family. With the home office, we eliminate travel time, hoping to increase our free time; however, we don’t even realize how much harder we are working and that this constant closeness is slowly stifling us. We can hardly dampen the urge not to look at emails arriving in after-work hours. How can you escape this never-ending circle?

The conditions at home are far from calm: the orderliness of previous habits and routines suddenly ceases to exist. In the United States, several studies have reported that adults, especially single parents, have felt the effects of the pandemic and experienced negative consequences in both their workplace and family environment.

Most internal conflicts and the related stress are caused by financial insecurity and fear of losing a job.  Unfortunately, this is exacerbated by isolation – we do not meet our parents, fearing for their health, nor are there risk-free opportunities for personal programs with our friends. Post-work me-time and recreation, such as gym, sports, and leisure programs, have either been discontinued, very limited, or may not be available for the foreseeable future.

You may be experiencing these symptoms of burnout:

  • Sense of failure and self-doubt.
  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated.
  • Detachment, feeling alone in the world.
  • Loss of motivation.
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook.
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.

What is burnout?

Burnout syndrome is a combined phenomenon of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. While it was first observed in the support professions, like psychology, it can affect adults working in any type of job, and even college students or children.

Unfortunately, although burnout conditions occur easily, recovery can be lengthy, especially if left untreated at an early stage. Neglecting symptoms of burnout along with a stressed lifestyle can lead to additional mental problems, such as depression.

How to handle this situation?

Fortunately, burnout is reversible and can even be avoided, using the right techniques. To do this, however, it is important to develop a livable and prioritized system to counter the   “new normal” lifestyle.  We need to become aware of what we can control and what we need to let go.

Techniques to use at home
Establish a firm policy: if everyone has a separate room, designate them as study and working rooms. If the family uses an open space area, create zones and personalize them with lovely objects and plants.

Let children understand that even though you are at home, there are designated periods when you can turn to each other.  Remind them that although routine demands can wait until a designated time, emergencies can be dealt with at any time. This way, you provide yourself and your children time and space for relaxation, as well as orderly working times.

With designated rest periods, you not only bring order into your daily life, but you also strengthen patience and concentration.

Supportive communication
Try to avoid responding aggressively or responding angrily. If your partner or children have not done something that would have been their job, communicate assertively: tell them why it was important to do it. Scolding only leads to even more confrontation, so you should avoid it completely. On the other hand,  don’t forget to praise and encourage the well-done tasks!

Set boundaries
We all tend to think, “… well, just this very last one!”, “we will only send this extra email, just wash this last set of laundry.” This mindset does more harm than good.  Instead of doing this, divide the daily tasks based on the number of working hours.  Unless there is an emergency, your work will still be there the next day. Have the discipline to shut down your laptop after business hours.  Set up your working hours along with self-care breaks.

At the end of your workday, set up a transition experience to let go of work and mentally prepare for home routines and life. Get up and move for your commute to the home life – for example, take a walk in a nearby park or green area – having ten minutes outside helps you relieve stress. Then start with household tasks.

Rebalancing your life
It is important not to neglect your own needs – excessive self-sacrifice is counterproductive. You set a bad example for the children, while your state of mind also falls out of place. Provide yourself with ample me-time, be it a hot tub, outdoor sports, or meditation.

If you would like more dynamic self-care instead of meditation, introduce activities that you perceive as a reward and give meaning to them. 15-20 minutes of movement a day will make you more balanced if your self-care is both challenging and enjoyable. Be aware that this is an important activity – if necessary, you can even involve your family, thus creating a common experience. Collect positive impulses!

These are some small things you can do at home to reduce burnout and build a routine and order at home to keep moving forward.  Each day take time to create the life you want within your home.

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