Mental Health Awareness Month: Tips for Working Remotely and Avoiding Burnout

Mental health awareness month. self care, work life balance

Mental health is wealth, and in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, let’s explore tips on how to continue working remotely without burning out. For some, the greatest challenge of working from home is the lack of socialization and lack of work-life balance.

Discover how to be a team player when you feel like isolating, how to set boundaries with global co-workers to ensure a great dynamic, and the best ways to recharge when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Recharge when you’re feeling overwhelmed

By the end of 2022, about 25 percent of American jobs will be remote opportunities. This is now the third year of the pandemic, and job burnout is at an all-time high.

The American Psychological Association’s Work and Well-Being Survey found that 79 percent of 1,501 employees surveyed reported work-related stress. Three in five workers reported a loss of interest when it came to their work tasks and maintaining company culture. Lastly, 36 percent had a harder time focusing, 32 percent felt emotionally exhausted, and 44 percent experienced physical fatigue, a whopping 38 percent jump from 2019.

As the notion of a new or returning normal is laid to rest, employers and workers must create stress-reducing measures. Focus must be given to maintaining balance. This could mean removing old tasks when a new one is assigned.

PTO isn’t just for vacation. Get mental breaks on the calendar, too. Think of moments in the future when you know you’ll feel drained, like the day after a huge deadline or presentation and request the day off ahead of time to reward your mind with a break.

When you can’t plan to take a day off or vacation soon enough when you’re feeling overwhelmed, the best strategy is to protect your weekends. Turn work off during these revitalizing two days. Sunday scaries may kick up, but resist the urge to turn on your work computer or check your work-related apps.

working woman taking a break, closing laptop

Best ways to be a team player when working remotely

In the digital age, we’re constantly connected to our devices and communication is 24/7. This makes it tough to unwind when your phone constantly buzzes, but you still feel the need to keep in contact with your team. During work hours, have all chat tools and video conference notifications at full volume. When it’s time to break away from the daily grind, find a way to properly step away from the apps, devices and tools. Some ways you can be a team player when working from home include:

Be consistent — The key to effective communication while working remotely is to set the right expectations. Pick which times throughout the day you will not be available. Your lunch may be sacred, or you may need a few minutes after a two-hour meeting. Be consistent to make your preferences known.

Pick up the phone — Tone and delivery can get lost over technology. Get on the phone for the big stuff to make sure communication runs smoothly. Schedule quick meetings if anything isn’t clear; impromptu calls can usually be avoided. A minute on the phone can save hours.

Provide applicable feedback — A team cannot thrive when feedback is sparse or confusing. Team performance depends on feedback. Give and take feedback as objectively as possible.

Respect different time zones — Be respectful of co-workers in different time zones. They may also feel like time they have set aside for their mental health during lunch or after work is compromised. You may be available all hours of the day, so it’s important to keep in mind they may not be either.

Select one standard zone — Acknowledge your global counterparts’ time zones. Respect their need for downtime and personal life outside of work. Stick to one time zone so the team can know when everyone is available. Switching the main time zone around can cause great confusion.

Share one calendar — Make one shared calendar available online. Be ready to jump on an unscheduled call, not during your lunch hour, to make co-workers in other time zones feel included. Also, schedule non-urgent emails during their prime hours to avoid them being bombarded with a multitude of notifications as they wake up or go to bed.

Extend grace to your colleagues — Send messages with at least a few hours of grace time. Global co-workers will appreciate the consideration instead of dreading every after-hours message. Understand that global co-workers still want to be respected and included no matter which time zone they are in and act accordingly.

If a global co-worker emails or messages after your hours, respond during your working hours. This will allow both of you to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Schedule some fun — It may sound counterintuitive, but schedule some fun. Set aside time to go for a walk, read a book, watch a few episodes of your favorite show or bake your favorite treats.

Find a friend — Find someone to talk to outside of your immediate support group. This will allow you greater privacy and release difficult emotions. Research support groups and therapists. You don’t even have to go in person for your time with them to be effective.

Break a sweat — Start exercising to give your body a break from sitting down all day. An overwhelming body of research shows exercise is one of the best antidotes to anxiety and depression. It increases the production of endorphins and leads to an increase in other feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine. Another theory suggests that an increase in the temperature of the brain stem from exercise leads to relaxation and less anxiety. Put on your sneakers and get your 10,000 steps in as the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to get your blood flowing!

Take a break from screens — Speaking of steps, step away from your screens. A break from technology will prevent the blue light from straining your eyes and messing with your sleep rhythms. Designate hours where you can step away and stick to them.

self care for workers, important to relax and recharge

In addition to the 20 days of PTO offered to all full-time ThriveDX employees, we launched an extra day off every year called Recharge Day, with our employees’ mental health in mind.

Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time to reflect on our mental health and well-being. Take some time this month (and beyond!) to check in with yourself and see how you’re doing. If you’re feeling stressed or burnt out, hopefully, these tips will help you recharge and avoid further burnout. Remember, you’re not alone. Seek out the support of those around you and take care of yourself both mentally and physically.

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