Do you feel exhausted?
Are you finding it difficult to stay positive about your job?
Are tasks feeling overwhelming?
If the answer is ‘yes’, you might be experiencing burnout. Burnout is what happens to us when chronic workplace stress is not managed.
I write about this today as we mark the first anniversary of the UK going into lockdown on 23 March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for over a year now and it has taken its toll on so many people.
We have been living in unprecedented times where our patience and energy levels have been put to the test. Some of you may have been stuck indoors feeling more bored than you ever thought possible. Others will have been working in their bedrooms or at their kitchen tables, and many of you who are key workers have been endangering your lives by keeping going into work to provide essential services.
If you’ve been working throughout this past year you may have noticed yourself more likely to be close to burnout.
Why is this?
For many of the clients I’ve seen in my counselling practice over the past year there’s been a common theme of finding it difficult to get a work–life balance. This seems to be the key feature that determines how many people are struggling to cope with work stress.
There have not been the usual opportunities to go out and socialise, go on holiday or, for many, to even be able to leave the house to go to work. As a result, work, socialising and family life have all merged into one and it has taken its toll. Many people have ended up working more hours or unusual hours to manage childcare and home-schooling. The ability to get a break from work has felt very difficult.
Lack of control is something that can be hard to cope with at the best of times, but when there is a global pandemic there really is very little we can control. This has exhausted us all.
What are the common causes of burnout in these times?
- Taking on more work to distract yourself and keep yourself busy
- Not taking time off work as you want to save your annual leave for when restrictions are lifted
- Not asking for help at work as you don’t want to burden others
- Not being able to switch off from work
With the COVID-19 situation appearing to be looking more positive going forward that might be bringing you some hope. However, it is likely you are still working from home or having high demands made of you in your key worker role.
Here are a few tips to try to give yourself the rest you need in these challenging times.
How to cope with and/or avoid burnout
- Try to talk to your colleagues/boss if you are struggling
- Take regular breaks
- Give yourself some annual leave
- Don’t do overtime if you’re already exhausted
- Give yourself time to exercise and eat regular healthy meals
- Find ways to relax after work
You can find more from our psychotherapeutic counsellor in residence Chloe here.
Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.
Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.