Avoiding Burnout As A Remote Worker
by Joe Frabotta
Burnout is a far more common phenomenon than many realize. An Indeed report published during the Covid-19 pandemic found that 52% of American workers were feeling burned out. A good employer will spot the signs of excessive stress in their workforce and encourage breaks. If you operate alone as a remote worker, though, there might not be anyone to stop you from overwhelming yourself with projects.
Remote workers need to be careful not to let their passion overpower their physical and mental health. This world is full of hustle culture that can be detrimental to your wellbeing. Below, learn about how to spot burnout and what you can do to avoid or even reverse its effects.
What are the Signs of Burnout?
Burnout is the result of chronic stress that has become unmanageable. It tends to come on slowly, meaning that you might not notice it until it’s too late. There is a range of symptoms to look out for. If you spot several of them occurring at once, then it’s time to take quick action before you experience full and complete burnout.
Exhaustion and low energy are big signs of burnout, especially if they are ongoing. Do you dread starting your workday and have an overwhelmingly negative attitude towards it? Perhaps you find yourself unmotivated, unproductive, and irritated by your colleagues or workload. Burnout comes with a sense of emptiness, meaninglessness, and a strong desire to quit.
In many cases, these feelings weren’t there when you began your remote work. This means that they developed over time as a result of burnout. Sometimes, it’s not the work that’s changed, it’s your attitude towards it. That means you can take steps to fall in love with your job again.
The Consequences of Burnout
There are many consequences of experiencing burnout, both physical and mental. On the physical side, prolonged stress and lack of sleep can lead to cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Of course, these can be incredibly serious if you don’t take steps to overcome them.
On the psychological side, mental health problems may arise as burnout increases your likelihood of developing depression and anxiety. Heightened irritability can weaken relationships, low performance can damage self-esteem, and your overall levels of self-care are bound to decline. Beating burnout is essential for your wellbeing and professional success, so build healthy stress relief habits.
Watch Your Diet
Stress is strongly linked to overeating and, in particular, craving sugary and fatty foods. This is because comfort foods boost serotonin in the brain and help to relieve stress. Burnout causes your body to crave these foods as a kind of survival mechanism. Naturally, you may also find your consumption of alcohol increasing at the same time.
Remote workers should be eating a healthy diet to help stave off burnout for longer. While the junk provides temporary relief, it only makes you feel more lethargic and less productive. This means you have to work harder to complete tasks, only increasing burnout. Healthy snacks boost your productivity, lowering stress and increasing feelings of accomplishment. Opt for fruit, nuts, high protein low-fat foods, and don’t forget to stay hydrated.
Another way to lower your overall stress levels is to exercise regularly. Working out lowers levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body so that you feel calmer through the workday. This means you can get just as much done while keeping your stress levels down. When you exercise, you also release endorphins, which elevate your mood and block out any stress-related pain you may be experiencing.
You’ll also sleep better and feel more confident, which can go a long way to improving your performance at work. Try to exercise five days a week, remembering to take rest days so as not to over-exert yourself. Even moderate exercise can make a huge difference. A 12-minute walk is enough to gain all the aforementioned benefits.
Take Positive Breaks
If burnout is a response to overworking, then taking breaks is key. However, it’s not just the quantity of breaks that matters, but the quality. There’s no point taking breaks if all you’re doing is engaging in other stressful activities. You need to make sure your time off is filled with as much calm as possible in order to counteract the chaos of work. Take several breaks throughout the workday while giving yourself extended time off, which is dedicated to resting and recharging.
Mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to reintroduce calm into your life and should be practiced for at least 10 minutes each day. You can become mindful while riding the bus or cleaning the house. It’s a simple habit with has enormous power to rewire your brain away from stress and anxiety.
While at work, take a break from your screen every few minutes, even if it’s only for ten seconds. Staring at a laptop screen requires focused vision, which increases activity in the amygdala. Looking into the distance or taking a short walk engages panoramic vision, suppressing your amygdala’s stress response and soothing the nervous system.
Build Meaningful Relationships
Burnout can cause a breakdown in your relationships with your coworkers. Even as a remote worker, you likely rely on the support of other people to make your day meaningful. Some people in this line of work will avoid forming bonds at all, preferring the freedom of working alone. This can be a bad idea as it will increase feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Instead, work on forming meaningful relationships with colleagues and clients. Get to know them on a personal level and create a strong bond. Doing this will help you find excitement in doing your job. You’ll want to perform well for them and will find meaning in what you’re doing. Reframe your work as a chance to give something of value to people who mean something to you. Giving something back has been shown to boost mood and physical health.
Find New Purpose
Doing the same job over and over again becomes tired and repetitive. To avoid burnout, you have to feel like you’re going somewhere and progressing in your career. Part of the problem may be stagnation. In this case, try to explore new options and put the purpose back into your work. An extreme example of this is quitting and finding a new job, but you can also just start a side hustle, ask your boss for more responsibilities, or reach out to a different kind of client.
The goal is to bring in some aspect of change so that you have that excitement that you had when you started this job. Failing that, it might be time for a shift in your perspective. Take out a notebook and write down what you loved about the job when it began. Why is this role important to you? Restate your mission and regularly remind yourself why you do what you do. This can help you rediscover your purpose and fill you with gratitude that you have this amazing remote work career.
With Anyplace Select, you can build a more productive office environment. That will help you get more done in less time, so you can focus the rest of your energy on eating well, exercising regularly, taking mindful breaks, building meaningful relationships, and finding your purpose. Combined, these can help keep burnout at bay.
Where to next? Find flexible month-to-month rentals across the globe on Anyplace.
Joe Frabotta is the Director of Marketing at Anyplace. He's a part-time nomad, traveling + working throughout the year but also having a home base in the mountains of Asheville, NC. When he's not working, you'll probably find him playing guitar, doing a section hike on the Appalachian Trail, or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.