Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of working remotely sounded appealing, especially for everyday commuters. No crowded trains and buses. No annoying workmates or bosses. It's just you, your sweatpants, and a flexible working schedule.
Enter COVID-19. The world health crisis has caused significant changes in our normal routines, including our work habits. To prevent the further spread of the virus, governments placed strict regulations when it comes to business operations. This forced hundreds of companies worldwide to adopt the work-from-home setup, where employees continue to work while in the comfort of their homes.
But as more employees fully adapt to working remotely, many have realized the new work setup is not a career utopia everyone has imagined. Many suffer from workplace burnouts, chronic stress, and fatigue. These health effects have turned worse for employees suffering from prolonged stress because of thyroid issues or mental health problems.
If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you may find this article helpful as it discusses the reason behind why working remotely has become exhausting and how to overcome it.
Why has working from home become exhausting?
Working from home may seem the best solution, but it only turned worse for many. There may not be endless chattering in nearby cubicles, but you have to deal with children's noises, annoying neighbors, or the sound of passing cars around the neighborhood.
Balancing home and work life has also become challenging. Your thoughts may be occupied by pending household chores, such as cooking lunch, doing the laundry, or helping the kids with their online classes. There is also the temptation of relentless snacking, especially if the kitchen is near your work area. Instead of feeling better, weight gain and stress eating will leave you in the worst state.
Distractions at home will keep you from accomplishing important tasks at work. Failure to meet deadlines puts you under pressure as the number of roles at home and the amount of work pile up. In this new routine, you need to spend more time in the kitchen as restaurants remain closed. You also have to do more cleaning as the house gets messier when everyone is at home. As a result, the demands of your home and work life increase, while your capacity remains the same or reduced.
Working from home can also fill you with overwhelming information. Aside from the news about the pandemic, businesses and clients will swamp you with messages and updates, while your company sends emails asking about your progress and scheduling video conferences at the most inconvenient time.
Additional household responsibilities aside from your job can bring plenty of stress and fatigue. When these feelings continue to drag on, stress can into burnout.
Health issues from workplace burnout
The World Health Organization (WHO) defined workplace burnout as a health syndrome caused by chronic stress from work. It leads to feelings of exhaustion, energy depletion, negativism, and reduced work competence.
Feelings of exhaustion and irritability are common red flags that signal work burnout. Other subtle symptoms also include irregular sleeping habits, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and unexplained physical issues.
In a study by Londrina State University, there are links between burnout and chronic health problems, such as musculoskeletal pain, insomnia, respiratory problems, high pain levels, prolonged fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, and a shorter lifespan.
Beating the work-from-home burnout
Even if you have mastered the art of multitasking, failure to define the boundaries between work and household life will drive you to spend more energy. You are not doing things at the same time because you are only switching back and forth between two different chores. Multitasking will only increase fatigue and stress by constantly shifting on tasks requiring concentration and attention.
Instead, try to be more present and mindful by doing one task at a time. Close tabs and unimportant applications not relevant to the current task. For extra measure, turn off other distractions and keep your phone out of reach.
Another way is to have a dedicated home office. Make sure the area is free from disruptions, and inform family members to keep a safe distance during work hours. When it comes to household chores, outsource tasks as much as you can. You can hire house cleaners, tutors, babysitters, and other services that will take away all the difficult chores off your shoulders.
Stress is always a part of everyday routine, but it is not an excuse to ignore your health and well-being. While there is no certainty when things will go back to normal, make sure to take time off every once in a while. Keep in mind that self-care is one of the secrets to survive any form of workplace burnout.