For more than 60 days we have been experiencing life as never before. Social distancing raises several issues that we should be aware of, and it is far too easy to blur the boundaries of work-life balance while working from home.
It’s likely you’ve heard of burnout – and you may have experienced it. Caused by chronic work stress, symptoms include emotional exhaustion, lack of energy, and loss of satisfaction with work. Burnout has been linked to a wide range of physical conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and muscle pain.
Work stress impacts our hormonal, metabolic, immune, and cardiovascular systems. If these bodily responses are triggered too frequently, or for too long, they fail to return to normal and may alter our body’s immune and inflammation responses. These changes may eventually cause other physical conditions.
Avoiding burnout entails recovering well from work, rather than focusing on being more productive or better at the work itself.
There are recommended ways to effectively tackle burnout:
• Rationalise your expectations. Know that while working from home it is difficult to produce the same quality and quantity as while in the office.
• Take short breaks. Include activities like meditation, reading, or cooking that don’t feel like chores.
• Adopt 30-minute recovery blocks, focusing on calming activities, especially after you log off for the day.
• Choose video chatting with friends and working out over watching TV shows.
The main message is for you to focus on defining routines that help you to separate your work time from your relaxation time, and above all keep loyal to your calendar. Otherwise, you will cross the boundaries all too easily.
Find time or space for yourself where you don’t engage in work-related or stressful activities. Work-life balance is about managing our time in a way that we keep feeling energetic and enthusiastic to face another day at work. Recovering from exhaustion can take place both during the workday (internal recovery) and outside of work (external recovery).
It’s about giving ourselves relief from stress by using short periods of time during work to reduce our body’s stress responses. This can include taking short breaks, doing breathing exercises, or switching tasks when you’re feeling mentally or physically exhausted. When you have a few minutes spare at work between tasks or meetings, relax rather than checking your emails and experiencing new stressors.
After work, dedicate time to the activities you enjoy. These might include watching TV, reading, or socialising (yes, we can still socialise virtually in self-isolation) – as long as these activities don’t encourage you to think (and stress) more about work.
Try something new, like a new hobby. Something that will challenge you in a different area from the one you are daily working.
The key to have a good work-life balance while working from home is choosing activities based on how they make you feel.
By Andreia Mitreiro , Marketing & Communication Coordinator