Shoutout to a Burnout

By Robert Goldman

September 17, 2020 5 min read

Oh, how happy you were.

Working from home meant no more commute. No more cramped office. No more pesky co-workers and snoopy managers with nothing better to do than interrupt you with work.

Instead, you'd be alone with the one person in the world who truly understands and admires you completely. Calm and comfortable in familiar surroundings, you'd do your work without stress and stressors. It would be paradise.

Oh, how wrong you were.

Maybe in the beginning, working from home was an upgrade, but now, after weeks of frantic emails, desperate phone calls and endless gloomy Zoomy meetings, you're not only overheated but also burned out. Worst of all, you know that things are not going to change — not quickly and maybe not ever.

Putting soothing salve on burnout is the goal of a recent article by Jo Yurcaba on the job site The Muse. "Work-From-Home Burnout Is Real — Here's How to Recover."

According to Yurcaba, burnout occurs "when people can't separate their work life and their home life." Put simply, you no longer have a home to escape to when work gets bad, and you no longer have work to escape to when your life gets bad. Work ... life ... they both get mushed together, trapping you in a gooey ball of anxiety and discontent.

At least when you worked in an office, you could slip out the back door and find freedom. Slip out the back door of your home office and what do you find? The laundry room. (Hey, it's not so bad. You've worn the same sweatpants for two weeks. Someone has to wash them.)

So, how do you put out a burnout?

"Take control of what you can" is the start of a cure. Yes, the whole world is making decisions for you, but you can take control of many important aspects of your life, such as deciding what color socks you will wear or — if you're willing to live with the scandal — whether you will even wear socks at all.

Another important step is to take care of yourself, because your manager certainly won't. Eat only healthy snacks, such as Little Debbie Fudge Dipped Banana Rolls. It will make you feel better when you eat your regular meal of Little Debbie Banana Marshmallow Creme Pies.

Exercise is another proven method for taking control of your life and your health. While sitting at the computer, strengthen your feet with a dozen toe clenches. (Before undertaking such a challenging exercise routine, be sure to check with your chiropodist.)

After particularly rough days, pamper yourself by going to bed early. Of course, this assumes you got out of bed in the first place. Therapist Celeste Viciere recommends developing a bedtime routine, including the use of "aromatherapy lotion or candles." I agree. Go for the candles; they're really delicious.

Psychologist Andrew Schwehm suggests you set aside "me time" every day. Two five-minute breaks a day "can really help reset you" Use this time for a quick "mindfulness exercise," such as "smelling a fragrance you like, like lavender or cinnamon."

I recommend you experience these two delightful fragrances mixed with the soothing aromas of tequila, Cointreau and lime. Take a sip every time someone in a meeting uses the words "synergy," "push the envelope" or "think outside the box." It won't take long before you'll be so reset that nothing will bother you, except trying to figure out why you're spending your "me time" sleeping in the bathtub.

You are also advised to "create boundaries and a routine for work." Let everyone know that you will only be available for online meetings between 10:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., unless you decide to start watching "The Bold and the Beautiful."

Since you will have to know if Finn can be Steffy's doctor now that he's developed feelings for her, delegate attendance at all online meetings to Thor, your goldfish. Thor is available, and your manager won't notice. And think how serene your fellow attendees will feel when your screen square is occupied by Thor, swimming laps in the confines of his bowl.

If your burnout gets too painful, talk to your boss. Schwehm suggests "setting up at least one 15-minute meeting (in the form of a video or phone call, for now) with your boss each month."

Even better, initiate a meeting every 15 minutes for a month. By the time the month is over, your boss will be ready for the rubber room.

If that sounds cruel, don't sweat it. You'll be moving in soon.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: 378322 at Pixabay

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