Blog: Are you Experiencing Coronavirus Burnout?
Coronavirus burnout and pandemic fatigue are real and might help to explain current feelings of overwhelm, lack of motivation, exhaustion and brain fog. The term ‘burnout’ is usually associated with long hours in the office and stress at work, however we can experience burnout as a result of many different factors. Dr Eleni Touroni, consultant psychologist and co-founder of My Online Therapy, explains:
“Ultimately, burnout points to a lack of self-care – an imbalance in what we are giving out to the world and taking back for ourselves.”
Individual experiences of the pandemic have varied hugely, and we can very easily understand why the frontline workers are feeling the effects of burnout, and we are so very grateful for all their hard work and dedication. Burnout can also be brought on by juggling work, life, kids, home, income in a way that has been imposed upon us and that we have little control over.
It seems the people who have continued to work throughout 2020 have been doing so at full capacity with little opportunity to rest, potentially leading to stress and exhaustion. Whereas the people who have been furloughed or made redundant have had plenty of time off but are likely worried about the future and concerned about financial stability, possibly leading to stress, anxiety and feelings of depression.
Do you recognise any of the warning signs of burnout*?
- A negative or critical attitude
- Trouble sleeping
- Overwhelming feelings of inadequacy
- Headaches, nausea, backaches
- Numbness or emptiness
- Difficulty in performing your usual daily tasks
The first step towards healing from burnout is to name it and start to understand what factors have contributed to you feeling like you are scraping the bottom of the barrel. These may include:
- Physical – e.g. relentless work schedules, lack of rest/ sleep
- Mental – e.g. stress, worry, persistent anxiety
- Emotional – e.g. relationship challenges, feelings of self-worth
The journey from burnout to wellness depends very much on your personal circumstances, however there are some very useful suggestions below.
- Ruthlessly remove stressors (wherever possible). Spend some time considering how to approach aspects of your life in different / creative ways to lighten your load and allow you to slow down.
- Nourish yourself as well as you can. When we are in the midst of burnout it can feel very challenging to achieve even the basic day-to-day tasks. Make your own health and wellness your priority wherever possible. E.g. eat alkalising food (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and avoid too much alcohol, sugar and processed foods.
- Reach out and ask for support. High functioning, high achieving people are at great risk of burnout and also are often slow to ask for help. Can you recruit family, friends or co-workers to support you? Professional help is a very good option e.g. talking to a counsellor and/or your GP as a starting point.
- Give yourself a break! In every possible sense of the word. You are doing your absolute best and your body is responding to very real stressors, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you, you are responding perfectly to your experience. Take steps to return to wellness and be extremely gentle with yourself.
“Balance activities that are necessary with ones that you do simply for pleasure – make time in the day to do things that nourish you and fill you with a sense of well-being.”
– Dr Elena Touroni
If you, or someone you know, if experiencing burnout as we move through this pandemic, you are not alone. We are not equipped to deal with this level of ongoing psychological stress and lack of control in our lives.
As a leader in business your own health and wellbeing is paramount. Your company, team or project can only operate as effectively as you can. Investing time and money into taking care of yourself, especially in the face of coronavirus, is essential.