Combating Workplace Burnout/Fatigue Through COVID-19

Part 2: You have to have balance and connection to avoid burnout.

Posted Nov 30, 2020

 Elijah Hiett/Unsplash
One has to find balance and connection to develop inner peace and to keep from being burnt out in our daily lives.
Source: Elijah Hiett/Unsplash

The following was shared with me and I was given permission to use it for my blog.

In having to deal with the uncertainty of the world in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we often find ourselves dealing with workplace burnout and/or fatigue. 

There are four ways to combat this in your life: awareness, balance, connection, and discipline. This is Part 2 of a three-part series called "Combating Workplace Burnout and Fatigue Through COVID-19." In the previous post, I shared the awareness factor. Next, I will be sharing balance and connection.

2. Balance: Support your balance and health

Balance work, rest, and play.

Balance strategies for transition times to and from work.

Balance compassion for others and for self.

Balance seriousness and humor.

Balance life outside of work!

Moderation in everything, including moderation.

Eat good foods. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your brain and mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and foods with high levels of chemicals, additives, and preservatives; reducing or quitting nicotine may help too. Taking a good vitamin can also ensure we are getting everything we need in our diet.

Drink more water. Hydration can affect the way we feel and function throughout the day. A lack of fluids can make us sluggish, irritable, and off our game. But hydration can also play a critical role in how well (or not) we sleep at night. As it gets colder, we should continue to drink water like when it’s warmer outside to stay hydrated. One way to make sure we are properly hydrated is to check our urine. If it's clear, pale, or straw-colored, it's OK. If it's darker than that, keep drinking more water!

Don't skip meals. Going too long between meals can make us feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours.

Minimize sugar and refined carbs. We may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these "feel-good" foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Aim to cut out as much of these foods as possible.

Boost your mood with B vitamins and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger fatigue. To get more, take a B-complex vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs. Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in stabilizing mood. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna, and some cold-water fish oil supplements.

Get some exercise and sunshine. Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve our mood. Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and get some sun for at least 15 minutes a day. If we’re on the night shift with little winter sunshine, try using a light therapy box. For some, taking a vitamin D supplement may help.

Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep. Fatigue typically involves sleep problems; whether we're sleeping too little or too much, our mood suffers. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits.

Keep stress in check. Not only does stress prolong and worsen fatigue, but it can also trigger it. Be aware of all the things in our lives that stress us out, such as work overload, money problems, or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to relieve the pressure and regain control with healthy coping skills. Remember to use combat breathing and exercise. Reach out for help if necessary.

Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of fatigue, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and wellbeing. Try deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, prayer, meditation, or simply 15 minutes of journaling, reminding ourselves of things for which we are grateful.

Balance. It’s not that we don’t know what to do—most of us know we should eat a balanced diet, get enough exercise, and get quality sleep. It’s that we don’t do what we know. I pray we will all find balance in our self-care.

3. Connection: Reach out and stay connected

Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming correctional fatigue. On our own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat it. At the same time, the very nature of correctional fatigue makes it difficult to reach out for help. When we're in it, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close trusted correctional friends and family members can be tough.

We may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed of our situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the correctional fatigue talking. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in our mood and outlook. Vulnerability and reaching out is not a sign of weakness—it’s actually a sign of enormous strength. Our correctional family and loved one’s care about us and want to help. And if we don't feel that we have anyone to turn to, it's never too late to build new friendships and improve our support network. Not everyone is worthy of our trust, but we can be trustworthy.

How to reach out for support

Look for support from people you trust. The person you talk to doesn't have to be able to fix you; they just need to be a good listener—someone who'll listen attentively, empathically, confidentially, and compassionately without judging.

Find ways to support others. It's nice to receive support, but research shows we get an even bigger mood boost from providing support to others. So, find ways—both big and small—to help others: volunteer, be a trustworthy listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody. Search for that co-worker that is struggling.

Make "face time" a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they don't replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face-to-face (probably with a mask now for safety) about how we feel can play a big role in relieving fatigue and keeping it away.

Try to keep up with social activities even if you don't feel like it. Even though we live in a different world now, we are hardwired for connection. Often when we're fatigued, it feels more comfortable to retreat into our shell, but being around other people will make us feel less depressed. Creatively find ways to stay connected with others while still following social distancing and other safety measures. Avoid drama if the social activities involve alcohol.

Care for a pet. While nothing can replace human connection, pets can bring joy and companionship into our lives and help us feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get us outside of ourselves and give us a sense of being needed—both of which are powerful antidotes to fatigue.

Join a support group for fatigue. Being with others dealing with correctional fatigue can go a long way in reducing our sense of isolation. We can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share our experiences

10 tips for staying connected

  1. Talk to another person about your feelings.
  2. Reach out and help someone else who may be struggling.
  3. Have coffee, lunch, or dinner with a friend.
  4. Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly and do the same for them.
  5. Accompany someone out somewhere, for a walk or a small get-together.
  6. Call, text, email, Skype, or Zoom an old friend.
  7. Go workout with a buddy.
  8. Schedule a weekly dinner date.
  9. Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club.
  10. Confide in a mentor, role model, teacher, coach, counselor, spiritual advisor or clergy member, or the Employee Assistance Programs.