As of February 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has persisted for over a year. Isolation, poor work-life balance, financial stress, and general worry have all been amplified due to the pandemic, leading to new or more pronounced existing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue. As we (hopefully) head into the final months of this pandemic, it will be important to recognize and mitigate the symptoms of pandemic burnout - and for you to prioritize your mental health. Here are some signs that your body needs a break and that it is time to engage in self-care activities:
Mental Signs of Burnout
You are increasingly cynical towards work or other commitments
You have reduced performance and productivity
You have difficulty concentrating
You have increased feelings of anxiety, depression, and frustration
You feel a loss of purpose
Physical Signs of Burnout
You feel exhausted
Your body aches
You have reoccurring head aches
You have GI issues
Your blood pressure has been higher than usual
You have been having difficulty falling or staying asleep
You have increased muscle tension
Once you are able to identify the signs that you may be burnt out, it's important for you to take steps to cope with the symptoms and allow your body to rest. Here are some ways you can engage in self-care:
Prioritize moving your body, even if it's only 10 minutes a day. Take a walk, stretch, practice yoga, or go on a bike ride - anything that works for you. Exercise will boost your mood and help reduce any stress you may have.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Add foods to your diet that are rich in omega-3s, such as nuts, seeds, and fish, to improve mood and gut health. At every meal, aim to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, 1/4 of your plate whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread), and 1/4 your plate a healthy protein (fish, poultry, tofu, legumes). Limit sugar and refined grains.
Improve Your Work-Life Balance
Many of us are now working from home full time. Working from home certainly has its perks, such as no commute, however it does come with a set of challenges, such as lack of boundaries between work and relaxation. You may notice that you now take calls after hours or respond to emails in bed. To make sure you have a healthy work balance, designate one room in the house as your work space. Treat this space as you would an office. Designate work hours and stick to them. Avoid bringing your work into other rooms in your house, especially your bedroom. If you are feeling particularly burnt out, take a day off to recharge.
Set Aside Time to Relax
Every day include time in your schedule to wind down. Choose something that relaxes you - whether its reading a book, taking a walk, playing a game with your family, or listening to music.
Reach Out to Someone
Talking with friends, family, or a licensed counselor can ease feelings of isolation while allowing you to get meaningful support. Many therapists and counselors now have virtual practices through a variety of platforms - making getting mental health help more convenient than ever.
Self-care is more important than ever - reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to explore more ways to prevent pandemic burn out.