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Stories from Inspire, Wellness

5 Ways to Prevent Burnout and Stress When You Work from Home

by Voices Wellness 19 Jul 2021
Photo: Unsplash

Keep stress at bay when you set clear boundaries, give yourself ample breaks, and reframe your negative thoughts. By SAMANTHA FRANCIS.

Once a pipe dream for Singaporeans, working from home is now a reality that’s far from perfect. While some relish the freedom of fulfilling tasks at their own pace, others struggle with finding work-life balance.

A 2020 survey, conducted by the National University Health System’s Mind Science Centre, had found that 61 percent of those working from home reported feeling stressed, compared with 53 percent of front liners. The #WFH situation means that lines between work and rest are often blurred. Most of us have experienced Zoom fatigue from online meetings that carry on way past dinner time or found ourselves fervently replying to client emails in the dark of the night.

Need a quick fix to the potential burnout and stress you may be feeling? Here are five solutions.

Photo: Unsplash

1. Schedule regular breaks

Without watercooler chat or work lunches, you might find yourself stuck at the desk the entire day without realising it. If you’ve been feeling tired or worse, missing your lunch breaks, it’s time to pencil in some time from your workday. A quick 20-minute power nap won’t hurt, and neither will a quick run to the kitchen to whip up a snack or mug of coffee. Taking a break could mean that you return to your tasks with a better sense of focus.

2. Reframe negative thoughts

Faced with an ongoing pandemic, it’s easy to let our thoughts run wild when things go wrong. Avoid overgeneralising, for example, “I didn’t perform as well this month, which means I’m a failure” or trivialising “They complimented my good work but probably didn’t mean it.” Negative thinking patterns can create more distress and anxiety in the long run. When such thoughts come to the fore, consider taking a step back and objectively viewing your situation. If necessary, talk to a therapist to evaluate your mental wellbeing.

3. Stick to your boundaries

While working from home remains the default arrangement in Singapore, it doesn’t mean that your humble abode needs to morph into an office. Make the effort to separate work commitments and home affairs by setting your own boundaries. For instance, not replying to work-related emails on weekends and after-work hours could be a start. Lead by example when you plan work meetings and email colleagues only during your 9-5.

4. Talk to loved ones

Having strong social connections not only starves off feelings of loneliness but also increases your sense of happiness and wellbeing. If things at work have been extra stressful, consider sharing your problems with trusted family members and friends. Spending ample time with loved ones also releases oxytocin, which is a natural stress reliever. If time permits, even a quick video call or a face-to-face catch-up can help one feel more relaxed.

5. Stretch it out

Exercise is a known mood lifter, but if work gets the better of you, consider doing some simple stretches at the desk. Ergonomically challenged home offices often cause aches in the shoulders, neck, and back. To prevent a sedentary lifestyle, squeeze in some simple stretches to ease tension in your body or go for a walk in the park. Being immersed in nature can improve emotional regulation and memory function.

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