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Sept. 10, 2020, 10:30 a.m. EDT

These simple habits can stop work-from-home burnout

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Kerry Hannon

The great work from home experiment has dragged on for six months and running, and it’s taking a toll. According to a survey of more than 1,500 respondents, conducted by the remote job board FlexJobs with the nonprofit Mental Health America (MHA), remote workers are burned out.

In fact, 40% of the workers surveyed said that longer hours since the pandemic is one reason they’ve experienced burnout.

Other findings: Employed workers are more than 3 times as likely to report poor mental health now versus before the pandemic. A sizeable 18% of employed workers say they are struggling with mental health issues, up from 5%, and 42% say their stress levels are currently high or very high.

More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents agree that workplace stress affects their mental health, leading to depression or anxiety, and 17% strongly agree.

It’s not just working longer hours. Other triggers I’ve found from interviews with dozens people working from home have been the daily demands of juggling work and family, caregiving for kids and aging relatives, while simultaneously ramping up new tech skills for communicating with bosses and team members and managing projects.

Meantime, without adequate social interaction for those who are not surrounded by family. loneliness can create depression and a range of other emotional and physical health complications.

While some workers are returning to the office, many are not, especially workers over 50, who might be vulnerable to the health risks associated with Covid-19, or are working remotely in part-time remote retirement jobs.

If that’s your experience, I’ve got some advice for you.

Here are tips to help you successfully navigate your work from home reality with your mental health intact from my new book: Great Pajama Jobs: Your Complete Guide to Working From Home.

It’s hard to speculate on what the new rules of social interactions will be moving forward. In some fashion, use the advice below to help you formulate the best way for you.

Set workplace boundaries

This is essential to making remote work a success for you and your employer. “The secret to setting boundaries is to intentionally and purposefully incorporate meetings, breaks, vacations, calls, coffee with friends, and activities into your calendar,” says Dan Schawbel , managing partner of Workplace Intelligence. “By doing this, it will force good behavior and alleviate your burnout. Remember that burnout is counterproductive. You may think you are getting more done, but it’s at the cost of your health and happiness, which will eventually wear you down,” he says.

Nurture the human touch

One thing we lose when we work from home is the energy, engagement and positive vibes we get from laughing at a co-worker’s joke, making eye contact with someone and smiling, or kibitzing as we wait for the coffee to brew.

Now that lockdown restrictions have eased, plan time to meet friends, or other remote workers you know who live nearby. This can be a coffee, lunch, or even an afterwork drink.

I personally have a really hard time with this. Taking time to meet someone in person is a time suck, especially when you have deadlines looming, and who doesn’t? Without question, the day of the date, I complain and am annoyed that I agreed to the get-together. What was I thinking? I have this and this and this to do. It breaks my work rhythm.

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