In part one of the “Avoid Burnout When Working From Home” series, I covered how creating structure with your time and logistical workspace helps you avoid burnout. In addition to how you establish your at-home work environment, physical activities contribute greatly towards your productivity and overall mental well-being.
Condition your body to avoid burnout using some of these methods:
Stress isn’t fun. It can lead to high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, a compromised immune system, and higher levels of depression and anxiety. Even thinking of what stresses causes can cause stress. What’s a person to do?
That’s easy. Just breath.
Breathing sounds like an effortless activity. I mean, you’re doing it now. Coincidentally, so am I. How you breath, though, makes all the difference. You actually might be surprised how many options of breathing exercises exist. Diaphragmatic, alternate nostril, Sitali, pursed-lip, coherent, or equal are among the breathing options you can practice to avoid burnout.
If you want to start with a simple approach, try these steps.
- Breathe in slowly through your nostrils, counting to four. Bring the air fully into your lungs and allow your belly to expand out.
Throughout the day, we tend to breath more shallowly, keeping the air in our chest. Society tends to celebrate a flat stomach, so expanding the belly seems counterintuitive. Breathing more deeply into your abdomen decreases tension and anxiety and lowers or stabilizes your blood pressure. Don’t worry; no one will take a picture for your Instagram while your belly is full of air.
- Hold the breath for another four count.
- While counting to eight, slowly release the air through your mouth.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Want a little a deeper dive into breathing exercises? Apps like Headspace offer guidance and meditations that can get you started until you’re comfortable practicing on your own.
Without question, our regular routines definitely have been disrupted by the coronavirus. We’ve had to adjust and develop new schedules. Whether because of new changes to your day or a bit of anxiety sparking insomnia, your sleeping habits may have found a different rhythm.
Finding a regular time to go to bed and rise in the morning trains your body to rest and recharge at the right times. Throughout your day, you can do activities that will help you sleep better at night. These include exercising daily, monitoring your alcohol intake, and creating an environment that’s conducive to sleeping. The body responds better to routines such as these.
As you approach your bedtime, it’s best to start lowering the lights in your home and also to avoid too much screen time. This includes limiting use of your laptop and television or scrolling through social media on your phone. Studies show that screen time causes your eyes to trick your brain to believe it’s still daytime. Not a great signal when you’re trying to catch some z’s.
Instead of turning to electronics to end your day, pick up a good, old-fashioned book. If you must use technology, use an app like Calm that provides guidance, coaching, sounds, and tools to guide you into dreamland.
Whether due to your job, lack of employment, family, or current issues in society, high stress levels are very common during this time. A Chapman University study reports 61% of respondents are feeling more stress and 39% are eating more than normal during the COVID-19 crisis. A poor diet is a contributing factor towards burnout.
With your traditional go-to-the-office schedule, you likely knew what was for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and where you would get them. During the days of social distancing, the majority of your meals probably are made at home. This changes the items on your grocery list and requires effort to purchase healthy options for a variety of meals. Make sure you’re stocking up on food like protein bars, smoothies, fruits, and vegetables that provides you energy and not just a mid-afternoon sugar rush.
While most of us feel like we’re operating in a reactive mode these days, when it comes to meal planning, we have the opportunity to be proactive. In fact, it’s recommended. Knowing that your kitchen is nearby, you may think you can go make lunch in a minute… after this next email… let me do this one more thing… Before you know it, it’s 4:00 in the afternoon. Set a lunch alert in your calendar so you’re sure to keep to a regular eating schedule.
The same goes for snacks. Instead of grazing throughout the day, set times for snacks. Many turn to comfort food (I know I’ve rediscovered my love for Chips Ahoy). While you deserve self-care and “treats” in times of upheaval, moderation is key. Find healthy snack options that still provide comfort while balancing your diet and providing your body nutrients and energy. Have them ready, planned, and portioned out so you’re not tempted to eat a whole tube of Pringles.
If food might be a struggle for you when eating from home, also consider the location of your at-home work station. If it’s at the kitchen table or in the dining room, perhaps you’ve placed yourself in the temptation zone. Find a spot where food might not be within view and at arm’s reach. Distance does wonders!
Exercise always proves to be a great method of stress relief and a way to avoid burnout. Common forms of exercise aren’t as readily available during the pandemic. Gyms are closed, and the hot summer temperatures make outside activities challenging.
An effective exercise regime requires a bit of creative thinking but can easily be designed with resources available online. Large chain gyms like 24 Hour Fitness and Planet Fitness stream workouts through their website or Facebook page. Barry’s Bootcamp offers classes through its Instagram profile as well as on its website. Several entrepreneurial trainers from New York to Australia also post at-home workouts on their Instagram accounts.
If you’re looking for something a bit more spiritual, you’ll find several yoga options. You’ll find some of the best with free trials before a membership fee begins. There are also plenty free yoga classes online. In addition to being on Amazon Prime, Yoga with Adriene also has a large selection of sessions on the YouTube channel.
Keeping your body rested, fueled, and active helps give you the energy to avoid burnout and make an impact in your professional role.
In the last part of this series, I’ll cover how your social circles can save you from burnout. Until then, just remember to breath!