Since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a global health emergency, the world has had to come to grips with adopting a new way of living.  Pandemic precautions and social distancing have become everyday norms for us at home, school, in public and at work. Employees are experiencing overwhelming pressures as they work through this pandemic. It can be especially tough on those who may also be taking care of elderly family members or raising kids.  So it’s no surprise that many of us are experiencing some long-term effects due to this new way of life. One of those effects is COVID burnout at work. 

What exactly is COVID Burnout? 

COVID burnout is a very real syndrome that can include physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. These can include such as exhaustion, fear, cynical thoughts, depression, fatigue, and feelings of being overwhelmed or drained. 

In order to combat COVID burnout while at work, it’s important to first understand what the symptoms may look like.  To help us determine our individual symptoms, the CDC has provided a public list of the symptoms of stress. Their experts offer this advice for employees:

“During this pandemic, it is critical that you recognize what stress looks like, take steps to build your resilience and manage job stress, and know where to go if you need help.”

Common symptoms of stress include:

  • Irritation, anger, or in denial
  • Uncertain, nervous, or anxious
  • Lack of motivation
  • Tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
  • Feelings of sadness or depression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating

3 Big Ways To Cope With COVID-19 Burnout At Work

Build Resilience

Resilience is simply our ability to bounce back or push through adversity. If you want to build resilience at work, try focusing on these five areas: 

  • Relationships – includes positive interactions with friends, family and co-workers that provide physical and emotional support
  • Emotional well being – includes being self aware or having clarity about who you are  (strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, motivation, thoughts and emotions)
  • Physical health – actively engaging in self care by getting enough sleep, eating well and relaxation techniques
  • Purpose – having a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves, like family, faith or through meaningful organizations/groups outside of work
  • Mindfulness – actively living in the moment and paying attention to the present through gratitude, taking on one task at a time, or doing mindfulness exercises

Manage Job Stress

Here are a few simple stress management techniques to incorporate into your work day: 

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Laughter 
  • Using breaks to “switch off” from work
  • Talking to yourself (which doesn’t have to be done out loud)
  • Establishing boundaries 
  • Practicing time management 

Use Your Resources

More companies are taking notice of employee burnout. As a result, human resources teams are offering emotional and mental health benefits geared specifically toward dealing with pandemic related stress. Some of these benefits may include things like:

  • Flexible schedules
  • Mental health days / increased PTO
  • Reduction in work hours
  • Mental health support via technology (mindfulness apps, video/tele counseling services)
  • Physical health support (fitness programs, online apps & classes)
  • Child care and elder care
  • Work from home expense reimbursement
  • Remote work opportunities

Check with your employer or HR representative to see if any of these benefits may be available to you.

COVID burnout is something that can happen to any of us. Proactively implementing coping strategies can help you create a healthier outcome at work.