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Wellness

How The Pandemic Contributed To Burnout

4 Mins read

The moment you open your eyes, you likely start to curate a to-do list for the day. From making a cup of coffee and walking the dog, to picking up the mail, making breakfast, and squeezing in a workout, the list of mundane tasks is endless. Do you sometimes feel like summoning the energy to complete one little task is too much for you? 

If you feel like you’ve been unable to complete some basic daily tasks lately, or can’t even get out of bed sometimes, you might be suffering from burnout. 

What is Burnout?

When we think of burnout, we think of people in high stress environments fatigued over the stress from their careers. However, contrary to popular belief, burnout is not just reserved for those with stressful corporate jobs. In reality, almost anyone can experience burnout.

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. In 2019, the World Health Organization recognized burnout as an “occupational phenomenon”. A survey reported that 46% of UK workers feel more prone to extreme levels of stress this year compared to a year ago. This could be credited to the pandemic, which has affected our work-life balance and working environments. With people working in lockdown from their homes, it is so easy to forget time and end up working longer hours as the lines between work and home life become blurred. Besides that, working remotely contributes to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which is detrimental to our mental health. 

Symptoms of Burnout

According to a survey conducted by the WHO, 1 in 5 UK workers felt that they were unable to manage pressure and stress levels at work. This can occur due to long-term stress on the job. It is worth mentioning that you don’t get burnout overnight. In reality, we edge towards burnout for a period of time but often fail to realize it before it’s too late. This can be because we don’t recognize the symptoms of burnout or end up identifying burnout as something else. For example, 68% of adults in the UK mistakenly identified symptoms of burnout as symptoms of anxiety. 

Here are some of the other mental and physical symptoms of burnout according to the WHO:

  • Feeling tired or drained most of the time
  • Feeling helpless, trapped, or defeated
  • Feeling detached and alone in the world 
  • Have a negative outlook on life
  • Harboring a lot of self doubt
  • Errand paralysis- procrastinating and taking a long time to do even the simplest tasks
  • Feeling overwhelmed 
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What Contributes to Burnout?

A study conducted by the World Health Organization found 9 different factors that contributed to burnout in the UK. Interestingly, not all factors are work related, burnout is reported to stem from a combination of factors from one’s personal and professional life. 

1. Money Worries

The study reported that 81% of people agreed that money worries can contribute to burnout. Finances are significantly important in our daily lives. Without sufficient finances, we are unable to take care of our basic needs such as buying food, and paying rent. Improve your financial wellness by talking to an expert or stick to a budget every month. 

2. Working From Home

Almost half the people reported that working from home can contribute to burnout. This is because it’s easy to lose track of time while working from home, and work continuously for hours without a break. Try structuring your day and slotting in break times to ensure that you don’t end up overworking yourself. 

3. Worries About Job Security 

11.4million people have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic, leaving the rest worried about their job security. This can lead employees to work extra hard to ensure that there is no reason for them to be fired. However, the stress can have a negative impact on employees and affect their mental well-being. Instead of working yourself up, talk to your employer and get advice or reassurance from them. 

4. Feeling Isolated 

77% of people reported that feeling lonely can contribute to burnout. The lack of feeling like part of a group can negatively impact the mental health and productivity of workers. If you feel isolated, don’t hesitate to get in touch with friends, employees and loved ones via video call or texts. If you feel like you need more help, reach out to support groups and online forums to vent your feelings. 

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5. Not Practicing a Healthy Lifestyle

Almost 80% of people felt that poor physical health can contribute to burnout. Taking care of yourself doesn’t require a luxury spa session. Eating a balanced diet, getting sufficient physical activity, and drinking plenty of water can help us get into the routine of feeling good about our healthy lifestyle choices. 

6. Not Getting Good Quality Sleep 

Being well rested is crucial for recharging, feeling refreshed, and ready to take on a new day. People suffer from all sorts of sleeping issues such as insomnia and as a result, wake up feeling tired. From sleep supplements to meditation routines, there are several ways for you to improve your sleep health

7. The Lack of Strong Relationships

74% of UK adults reported that problems in a personal relationship contribute to burnout. Make sure to give time to your friends and loved ones and support each other through tough times. No man is an island. Having good relationships and having a shoulder to lean on can help improve our well-being in trying times.

8. Homeschooling Children 

Some families may have made the decision to homeschool their children, however, homeschooling children can be tough. Set a routine for your children so they can settle into their new routine. Having a routine for you and your children can help tremendously. 

9. Caring for Others

The pandemic can give rise to unplanned responsibilities caring for elderly adults and children. Alternative options of after school childcare, or hiring caretakers, may be an issue due to health concerns. 

This increased amount of responsibilities related to caring can contribute to burnout. One thing employers can do is to make work from home arrangements for those with special responsibilities related to caring for a loved one. Furthermore, employers should ensure mental health support and certain accommodations can be given to workers who have an ill loved one, or a lot of caring responsibilities at home.

Heather Ng
29 posts

About author
Heather is a freelance writer with an interest in health tech. When not writing, you can find her wandering around Hong Kong trying to uncover the cities best kept hidden gems.
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