Avoiding Loneliness and Burnout While Working Remotely
By Carla Delgado
Working remotely was always an option, but during this time of global crisis, it appears to be the only reasonable choice. Back then, people used to go home to take a break from work. Now, home is the workplace itself. Although this has some advantages like having more time indoors and saying goodbye to the morning commute, there are also plenty of downsides.
A report shows that loneliness is one of the biggest struggles of remote workers. Aside from decreasing productivity and efficiency, it becomes more than just a mental health issue because it affects physical health as well. Burnout is also a common result due to the blurred line between personal and professional lives. The comfortable environment makes it easy to avoid work sometimes, then overwork on other instances.
This major lifestyle shift begs for a reassessment of one’s relationship with work. Now more than ever, healthy limitations must be established. To avoid feeling alone and exceedingly exhausted from work, there are several points to keep in mind.
Stick to a schedule.
It doesn’t matter if you have a full-time job, a personal business, or a freelancing career – setting a regular work schedule is important. Having structure in the day makes it easier to manage tasks because of the predictable routine. Those with regular 8-hour workdays must stick to that time and avoid work-related calls and e-mails after end of business (EOB). On the other hand, freelancers have more flexibility because of their output-based work. A work routine allows more control over one’s personal time, especially with well-incorporated frequent breaks throughout the day.
Establish a working space.
When working remotely, it is important to have a clear separation between work and personal life. Aside from finding a good schedule, it also helps to set physical boundaries by establishing a space solely dedicated to working. The brain will eventually get used to being more focused and efficient when placed in that environment. Not everyone has room for a complete home office, so a particular desk or spot in the house will do nicely. After setting up the working space, refrain from going there to do anything that isn’t work-related. This ensures that the physical boundary does not get crossed.
Lean on reliable support systems.
Remote work can be very isolating, even for those who don’t live alone. It’s exhausting to work in front of a screen all day and stay in that mind space for long periods. To combat loneliness and have some relief, get in touch with loved ones every so often. Have lunch with a family member over a video call. Hangout with friends after work and have a socially-distant drinking session. Hearing another person’s voice and chatting like normal will help avoid the feeling of isolation. Feel free to unwind and have fun just like before.
Don’t ignore hobbies and interests.
Actively carve out time to do hobbies, may it be journaling, playing video games, or reading a book. Having interests outside of work is part of the sought after “work-life balance.” There’s nothing wrong with doing something out of pure enjoyment because happiness and relaxation are part of overall wellness. Some people find it difficult to focus on a hobby nowadays, even ones that they used to love. To get through the temporary difficulty, try doing the activity for as short as five minutes. It’ll be much easier to continue after seeing how effortless it is to do it.
Be kind to yourself.
Some people constantly feel like they’re not doing enough with all the time they have. The urge to be available 24/7 is very common, especially with remote work. Still, this must be avoided. Respect yourself enough to stick by the schedule that you set. Take a break or have the whole day off if everything becomes too overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to recharge mentally, emotionally, and physically. Constantly putting work ahead of your need will lead to a feeling of burnout. Accept the fact that you have to prioritize yourself as a form of self-care.
There’s no one-off solution to avoid work-from-home burnout and loneliness. Ultimately, it depends on the consistent effort to maintain boundaries between work and personal life. The negative implications of remote work can be decreased by balancing responsibilities well. Thanks to technology, working in a virtual workplace is far more manageable. With the right planning and habits, the potential to achieve personal and professional development is still in the cards.