How to Avoid Burnout While Working Remotely in 2023

Burnout Treatment at Centres For Health and Healing

During the pandemic, businesses were forced to adapt to new conditions, and many people began working remotely. In March 2021, over 30% of Canadians were working from home, a huge increase from 4% in 2016. While Covid restrictions have become less stringent, remote working has remained a widespread practice – and it’s easy to see why.

Not having to commute to the office every weekday saves time, money, and hassle. Working from home also allows people to be closer to loved ones and in many cases, keep a schedule that’s more aligned with their lifestyle.

However, despite its many obvious benefits, working remotely comes with its own issues. One of these is the risk of burnout. For those who suffer from a work addiction, or feel pressured to overwork, it’s essential they implement an effective strategy, one that brings peace and balance to their working life and prevents burnout from occurring.

What is burnout?

Mental health disorder

You’ve probably heard the term being bandied about, but what does burnout actually mean? Put simply; it’s a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by a long-term build-up of stress or frustration. It’s often characterized by a lack of motivation, feelings of detachment and cynicism, and difficulty performing work-related tasks. 

There are many factors that can contribute to this state, among which are long working hours, overworking, too many responsibilities, or a lack of accomplishment or control. Personal issues can also contribute, like addiction issues or inadequate social support. If not properly treated, burnout can have a severely negative impact on your health and well-being, as well as your interpersonal relationships and overall quality of life.

It’s important to recognize the signs of burnout and, if you think you may be suffering from it, to seek help as soon as you can. When working remotely, this challenging mental state can easily go unnoticed. This is why you must be as vigilant as possible and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Below are several ways to help you avoid burnout while working remotely in 2023. 

Set boundaries 

Establishing clear boundaries between work and personal time is essential for remote workers. If the former is taking up too much of your focus, it can negatively impact the latter, along with your well-being and interpersonal relationships. Fortunately, there are many ways to set boundaries. Here are some key examples:

1. Ensure you keep specific working hours

The temptation to overwork can be hard to resist, especially when your workplace happens to be your home. This is why you should set specific hours when you’ll be available to work. By creating a sense of structure and routine, it can make it easier to disconnect from work when you’re not on the clock.

2. Designate a separate workspace

happy lady sitting on home office

Working in your living room or bedroom is comfortable – but arguably too comfortable. If you have a room available, turn it into a study you use mainly for work. Not only will this allow you to create a sense of separation between work and home, but it will also help you to focus more when you’re in that space.

3. Turn off notifications when you’re not working

When you’re enjoying your free time, how does it feel when a notification from Slack or Gmail interrupts you? This has the effect of putting you back in a working state of mind and infringes on your personal life. Therefore, we recommend setting limits on notifications or turning them off completely when you’re not working.

4. Communicate your boundaries to others

It’s important to inform your colleagues and clients about your hours and availability. Remember, your time is valuable, so even if you feel pressured to overwork, your co-workers need to respect your schedule. This could involve setting up an out-of-office message or status for when you’re not available to work or simply letting people know when you can’t take calls or attend meetings.

Take regular breaks

It can be difficult to pry yourself away from the computer screen (after all, they’re designed with that in mind) but doing so is necessary to ensure you get enough mental rest. Taking scheduled breaks isn’t just beneficial for your health, but can actually make you a better worker. In fact, research shows that taking regular breaks is actually more productive than working without stopping.

While short breaks punctuating work are important, longer rest periods are also vital. Taking days off as well as ensuring you get enough vacation time, affords you the complete rest and revitalization you need. For remote workers, this is where the aforementioned boundaries come into play. Having that designated workspace and turning off your notifications will enable you to better enjoy your time off without being constantly reminded of work.

Stay connected

One of the downsides of working remotely is that you’re deprived of the social benefits of the office. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially for those who live alone. With that office camaraderie, cooperation, and friendship less easily accessible, you need to make more of an effort to maintain healthy social relationships. If meeting up in person isn’t possible, you could schedule regular virtual meetings or send messages to check in with each other.

Given the limits it places on communication, digital space often clouds the human element. This is why it’s so important to bring it to the forefront of your mind, even when in a Zoom meeting or just sending messages. Meet your colleagues with compassion, kindness, and understanding as fellow human beings rather than simply cogs in a machine.

Look after your physical and mental health

Meditation

While many consider remote working preferable to the office, the former places its own set of demands on our health and well-being. As this article points out:

… remote workers are putting in longer hours at their desk, [and] data [is] suggesting that up to 80% of UK workers feel that working from home has negatively impacted their mental health.

Given this, along with the points raised earlier, it’s clear that prioritizing self-care is equally (if not more) important than work itself. Don’t let your diligent efforts to meet deadlines impinge upon your physical and mental needs. Eat nutritious meals, exercise, take a walk in nature, and spend quality time with friends and loved ones. 

Remember that your well-being is infinitely more important than impressing a client or your boss. In fact, you’ll be much better equipped to perform well at work if your physical and mental health is well cared for.

Seek support

If you’re suffering from burnout, it’s essential you reach out to people and communicate this to them. This could be a friend, colleague, or even your boss. Many employers will understand if you require a break and are, in certain cases, legally obliged to grant leave from work. 

For example, in Canada, stress leave is protected by law:

“Employees have the right to take stress leave, also referred to as a medical leave of absence, if they are unable to work for health-related reasons. The reason for your absence must be supported by your doctor.”

When you are afforded leave, use this time to recuperate, recharge, and treat any health issues you may be dealing with. Remember, if you’re suffering from burnout or work addiction, we’re here to help. 

Our team of experienced professionals has many years of experience working with mental health, addiction, and burnout. So if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact us.

Additional Resources

  1. How to spot the major signs of burnout Centres for Health & Healing, July 14, 2021
  2. “I Can’t Do This Anymore:” What to Do If You Are Experiencing Burnout Verywell Mind, By Wendy Wisner, Jan, 28, 2022
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