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  • Writer's pictureCarolina de Arriba

Dealing with Pandemic Burnout

If you’re feeling exhausted these days, you’re not alone. Many people are experiencing burnout as a result of the pandemic.

How can you know if you are experiencing burnout? Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Exhaustion: You feel tired on a physical and emotional level.

  • Physical symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, back pain, rashes, and the return of old mysterious symptoms can all be signs of an overwhelmed nervous system.

  • Disillusionment: Cynicism and general detachment are hallmarks of burnout.

  • Reduced performance: You might feel a decreased motivation to get work done, have difficulty focusing, and struggle with prioritizing tasks.

A lot of the stress we are experiencing in this season comes form external factors impacting our lives. If you feel your energy is being drained by all the things happening around you, there are many ways to recover your energy, even if the external stresses remain the same.

1. Build your self-awareness None of us has ever encountered a global pandemic like COVID-19 before, or spent as much time at home as we have in the last 6-7 months, therefore we didn't knew how to react to everything happening around us. Is important to check in with ourselves throughout the day. Pay attention to what triggers us and where our limits are. I've found that journaling is a great way to increase our self-awareness.

2. Have some self-compassion. Being hard on yourself is its own form of stress, so try to notice where perfectionism and overachieving may be adding to your load. We tend to be our worse critics. Give yourself extra grace and space for thoughts and emotions. Mistakes are inevitable right now — let yourself learn from them instead of berating yourself. Show yourself kindness by planning one thing to look forward to daily, like a long bath, a call with a friend or family member, a good book or a cup of coffee.

3. Try to prioritize rest and mindfulness practices. Sleep is critical to stress-recovery, and so is rest. Because we are home all day is easy to work more hours and because we are home all day we are constantly looking for way to keep ourselves busy. I've found that taking breaks regularly throughout the day can help build resilience. These can be short and sweet. I like to take 5 minute breaks in between meetings to stand up, stretch, refill my water bottle and set intentions for my next block of time. I also have added 10 minute short meditations in the morning before starting to work or after lunch if I am feeling stress or I find myself struggling to get focused.

4. Incorporate movement into your day. They say that when you move your body you change your mind. That is so true! The days I skip a workout I can feel it in my energy and mood during the day. Exercise is one of the core elements of my morning routine. Starting my day moving my body helps me start the day with a boost of energy and a sense of accomplishment. I always say that exercising allow me to leave all my stress in the mat, so I can carry on with my day refreshed and energized.

5. Limit media and social media. When the pandemic started I felt a huge urge to binge on news. Our brains are desperate to understand what’s happening. But for me reading the news created a snow ball that compounded the effects of burnout. At one point I stopped reading the news. I also found that limiting social media consumption and auditing the accounts I was following and watching in social media and unfollowing anything that was triggering stress in me was very helpful.

6. Thoughtfully connect with - and disconnect form - others During the last months we have found the way to leverage technology to stay connected with family and friends. Yet, we’re wired for in-person connection and our brain’s emotional centers don’t respond as well to digital encounters as in-person ones. While meeting in person is not possible as it was before the pandemic, we can focus on trying to improve the quality of our virtual encounters by connecting more thoughtfully, perhaps one on one or in smaller groups.

On the other hand, if you have loved ones who tend to drain your energy, or friends who need to process about the virus while you need to talk about anything else, give yourself permission to set boundaries and take some space.

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