Millions of people around the globe have had to make very sudden, drastic changes in the way we live our lives, including, for some, a sudden transition to remote working amid the Covid- 19 pandemic.
Countless news articles and daily uncertainty in the current market coupled with being unable to see friends and family has undoubtedly caused a lot of stress and anxiety to so many people around the world.
As our emotional resources are used up in trying to cope with challenging situations like the one the world faces currently, our sense of well-being and capacity to care for ourselves and others is reduced. Everyone differs in levels of emotional capacity; however, one thing is certain in everyone, emotional exhaustion is at the heart of burnout.
Research shows that people suffering from emotional exhaustion experience higher levels of work-life conflict. It is important early on to recognise signs of emotional burnout and build on emotional capacity quickly to prevent a longer-term issue.
There isn’t much we can do about the current global pandemic, but there are things we can do to look after ourselves, to clear our minds and avoid the negativity.
Recharge yourself physically
Taking good care of our bodies can make it easier to recharge the mind. Being emotionally drained has a negative impact on our body so starting to look after ourselves physically is a good place to start.
Make changes to our diet
Our energy levels and concentration span are greatly impacted by our diet. Whilst we all enjoy reaching for a glass of wine on an evening, making small changes such as eating more fresh food, fruits and vegetables and avoiding too much processed foods can help us feel more energised and reduce the risk of becoming emotionally and physically drained.
When we feel exhausted after a long day it can be tempting to sit in front of the tv, but that usually makes us more tired and exhausted. Getting out into the fresh air doing any sort of physical activity raises endorphins and serotonin levels and can improve our emotional state, alongside taking our mind of our problems.
Recharge yourself mentally
Sleep is important for emotional health and is the ultimate body recharger. Experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep every night and recommend setting up a healthy sleep schedule throughout the week. Getting fewer than six hours sleep per night is a major factor for burnout at work.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Taking 10 minutes each day focussing on the here and now, focussing on our breathing and thinking about what we are grateful for are other ways to refuel the mind. Research shows that people who practice mindfulness at work experience lower levels of emotional exhaustion.
Other methods of mindfulness include meditation, yoga, going for a walk and keeping a journal.
Connecting with friends
During the current COVID-19 everyone has been restricted to their own homes meaning we haven’t had that personal interaction with our friends and family that often relieves stress.
Given how many methods of technology there are at our disposal, we can still set some time aside to talk to friends and family. Whilst they likely won’t be able to solve the problem, having someone to listen often relieves stress and rebuilds our emotional capacity.
If you don’t have anyone close to turn to, check if your employer has an employee assistance program with counselling services.
Take a break
Whilst taking time out doesn’t seem like an option at the moment, especially with the restrictions and social distancing in place, you can still take time out in your own home. Reading a book, taking a bath, listening to music or a podcast are many ways of taking our minds away from the daily problems we face. If you have children, ask your partner to entertain the children, even just an hour can make all the difference to repairing our emotional capacity.
Adopting some of the methods above doesn’t mean we won’t still experience moments of stress and anxiety and struggle with our emotions. It will mean however we accept these moments and will increase our resilience and resistance to emotional exhaustion.