In this article, you’ll learn about the effects the COVID-19 pandemic still has on our mental health, including burnout and work-life balance. Plus, we’ll give you a few strategies to take your personal time back.
The COVID-19 pandemic came as a shock to us all. At one point, face masks were things that we usually saw in hospitals and medical dramas, but now, every one of us must wear them as part of social distancing guidelines. The world has never changed so significantly like the past two years. The function of our lives that underwent the most change is how we worked at our jobs. Except for hands-on professions, almost every sector started working from home to curb the spread of the virus.
What began as a short-term measure has now extended for over a year and a half. Many workers have adjusted to the new situation involving either completely remote work or a few days of remote with a couple of days working in the office. However, is this as simple as it seems?
The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Mental Health
COVID-19 has affected every corner of the globe. The world went from busy to people hiding behind masks and social distancing. As of September 2021, the virus has claimed the lives of 4.55 million people. Besides this tragic loss of life, the pandemic inflicts a hidden toll on people’s lives. If you asked your neighbor how they are doing, chances are their answer may not be as positive as it once was.
The effect of the pandemic on the mental health of the human population is devastating. Anxiety and depression rates have skyrocketed to all-time-high figures. The pandemic has affected everyone quite differently, but the underlying truth is that it has inflicted a toll on everyone.
Work Home Balance in the Era of COVID-19
Offices all over the globe were able to function almost normally thanks to widespread access to the internet. Most employers and employees began to understand the capabilities of the technological age. Many adjusted to remote work at the beginning of the global lockdown. The success of many people’s transition was thanks to remote conferencing software and cloud collaboration tools like Fusion 360fpandemic. For parents taking care of their kids and people who generally enjoyed working from home, many workers saw and began to enjoy the benefits of remote work.
However, as a result of revenue losses due to the breakdown of logistical systems and travel restrictions, workers have had to compensate by working more hours than usual, despite working from home. Before the pandemic, it was easy to understand that you worked while you were at the office, and when you got home, it was your time. Now, with the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses struggle to survive and have fallen upon their employees’ efforts to sustain the company, even though it may result in a few more hours of work per day.
Added Stress at Home
Indeed, this time is still uncertain for employers and employees alike. During this time of increased work demand, many people have lost their jobs. Those who have been able to keep their employment are fearful of losing their job if their work performance reduces. This fear has led many already time-stretched workers to attend meetings over meetings non-stop throughout the day, resulting in even less time than they had for themselves before the pandemic.
With the pandemic already severely affecting workers’ mental health, increased workloads resulting from businesses trying to stay afloat during the pandemic have added to this effect. Unfortunately, all of these factors eventually contribute to “burnout,” which is a term that we have become all too familiar with.
Many companies are aware of “burnout” and have taken steps to protect their employees from such situations by contracting psychologists to speak to strained and struggling workers through their problems. However, while services such as this help and support many people, it is imperative that you are conscious of your mental health and take adequate steps to protect yourself during this strenuous era of time.
Recognizing Work from Home Burnout
You might be wondering if it’s even possible to suffer burnout even while working from home. It is. Burnout is when workers suffer overwhelming exhaustion and feel insignificant and disconnected from their life and work. It leads to massive drops in productivity. As a result of all the above contributing factors, research has shown that more than two-thirds of the United States workforce suffered from burnout at one point during the pandemic.
However, burnout is more than just a psychological condition. Burnout correlates with individuals facing adverse health effects like headaches, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, muscle tension, hypertension, cold/flu episodes, and even sleep disturbances.
Prioritizing Your Mental Health
You have one life. While you should shoulder responsibilities and perform as well as you can at work, you must also prioritize enjoying life and keeping yourself healthy. The current trend in the work world is hustle culture, which means if you work very hard, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor one day. This mentality leads many people to the path of living to work. Changing your attitude from living to work to living is a process that starts with acknowledging unhealthy work habits. Once you do that, you can slowly begin the process of reclaiming your life and, most importantly, enjoying it.
Finding a Work-Life Balance That Works for You
It may be challenging to find the boundary between these two aspects of life when working from home. In the past, commuting to work was a clear separation of your professional life and personal life. But how do you separate them when your work is at home with you?
The most important step you can take is to recognize your working time. A typical working day starts at nine and ends at five. That’s eight hours of work every day. Try to keep your business and work commitments to fall in this time. If they happen to fall outside these times, ask to reschedule any meetings. Don’t explain too much. It is just best to say that you are unavailable.
Change your automated messages to say that you will be available during specific times of the day. Most people will oblige to contact you within these times unless it is an emergency. Disconnect from email, group chats, and other non-urgent communications.
Giving yourself this time back safeguards your mental health and helps keep up your productivity at optimal levels. Never be afraid to seek professional help if you are struggling to get through this on your own. Remember, the strongest people are those that reach out for help when they need it.