Dealing with burnout during our pandemic

Working harder and harder will not fix burnout. This just creates a feeling of spinning your wheels. Pexels

Are you feeling tired and weary dealing with the same problems every day? You likely wake up thinking about COVID-19. Then you crawl out of bed and view the numbers on TV. Next, you gauge how you’ll cope for the next 24 hours.

You know you have coronavirus burnout. You need some changes, but what can you do differently?

In order to cope, while we’re all waiting to turn the corner, try focusing on the vaccine that’s coming. It’s the first real hope we’ve had in months. Then, get busy making some small changes in your life.

“The pandemic is causing something akin to boredom on steroids,” says a psychologist we’ll call Thomas.

Thomas goes on to explain it this way: “Eating chocolate pie over and over will make you sick. People need variety in their lives.”

To pull yourself out of burnout mode, try these changes:

n Keep a notebook of nice things to do for yourself. The list might include something as simple as going for a hike or driving in the country for a couple of hours. List affordable, achievable activities or rituals (such as calling old friends) you’ve neglected to do. Again, strive for variety.

n Improve your environment. We all grow tired of our home decor, furniture, and yard landscaping. Do something simple such as painting some furniture, cleaning out your closets, or buying a gas firepit for your patio.

n Make a contribution to a non-profit in your community. Volunteer to pack boxes of food for a food bank or design a webpage to help families connect with free medical care. Invest your time in something larger than yourself at least once a week.

n Learn something you’ve neglected to pursue in the past. For example, pull out that guitar you bought years ago and learn some chords. Or, ask your daughter to teach you how to use technology to set up a group chat with your friends.

Working harder and harder will not fix burnout. This just creates a feeling of spinning your wheels.

“I feel trapped in my work routine, home schooling my kids, and trying to keep my husband happy while we wait for the world to change,” says a computer programmer we’ll call Rosanna. “I keep counting my blessings, but I still feel depressed.”

Burnout comes from expending too much energy without getting the “rewards” we expect from our efforts. We dread our routines, because the payoffs we’d like don’t materialize.

“I’m one of those people who gives a hundred and ten percent,” says an accountant we’ll call Tina. “My work has to be perfect, my house has to be extremely neat and clean, and yes, I want to have a husband who will never leave me,” she laughs.

Tina recently decided to back away from burnout, however. Her biggest clues were the dark blue circles under her eyes and a big argument she’d had with her husband.

“I’m so burned out,” she emphasizes. “I dream of a month-long vacation and having dinner with my old college friends. Instead, I’ve been working many hours of overtime and pushing my husband to cook and clean. Hence, the big blowup.”

Tina made the decision a couple of weeks ago to stop working weekends. She and her husband also began cooking dinner together at six every evening. They both clean house for two hours every Saturday afternoon. And, they’ve spent the last two Sundays connecting with family and friends online or by phone.

“We’re trying to change things a bit,” says Tina. “There’s nothing worse than every day feeling like the day before.”

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Tribune Wire

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