Summer is gone, kids are going back to school, and many of us are still working from home. We don’t know what will happen during the autumn with Covid-19. Is there going to be another lockdown? Will the children have to stay home because of a cold, which may look like the Coronavirus? Many question marks and the rainy weather make it even more challenging to be of good cheer. However, we have a few tips on how to avoid hardships and maintain positive energy!
Robert is an IT engineer working for one of the companies based in Eindhoven. We met after a few months when he told me that he is experiencing burnout. I must admit, he didn’t look good – he was quiet and got emotional during our conversation.
“Being a parent of small children whose wife is also working full time – Robert explained. – When we were under lockdown and had to work from home, it slowly became challenging to maintain a work-life balance. I felt that I could not devote myself entirely to work or personal life. Our CEO sent an email that he understood that this is a difficult situation, new circumstance and we should work how much we can, not more. However, on the lower level of managing, nothing changed. We had the same plan for the project, the same deadlines. The pressure only increased –My mind has been at a frenetic speed for the last few months, and it always felt that it was really hard to get the headspace to think through when you are mentally occupied all the time. Spring was a scramble for us, figuring out how to manage the situation and coping with the emotional realities of work and care. Summer was also clouded with worry. Will the fall be like the spring again? The unknown is agonizing for working parents like us – who are used to having some control over the family schedule,” Robert worries. The last time we checked with Robert, he took a break from work and is in consultation with a therapist, helping him cope with stress and recover from burnout.
The time of a pandemic is peculiar and a real challenge for many of us. Especially for parents of small kids, it is tough to perform well at work while they have to take care of the little ones at the same time.
Here are tips from the expert on how to handle isolation, anxiety, and burnout during this pandemic time
Anna Potorska – van de Loo, High-Performance Coach, Mentor, and Trainer, emphasizes that It is not the crisis that causes burnout. The pandemic magnifies what has not worked so far. At this moment, we can see and analyze whether the foundations on which relationships are built are sufficient enough.
If you have similar worries as Robert or know somebody who is burning his/her energy in a current “new – old – normal” circumstance, Anna Potorska has 5 Tips that might be helpful right now:
TIP 1 – Take Care of Yourself First
There is no way you can serve others to your highest potential if you are running on an “empty fuel tank”. Especially in these highly demanding circumstances, where in many cases, we do not have direct influence, you have to rely on yourself and your inner power. Make sure you take time to rejuvenate, rest, and relax. Proper sleep, nutrition, and nurturing of your own needs first will ensure you have more energy to give to others. It is like an airplane. Each time you get on your flight, you are clearly instructed: “In case of emergency, the oxygen mask will be released. Please make sure you pull the mask in front of you and put it ON first BEFORE you are ready to help others around you (that means before you assist your children, spouse, etc.), to make sure you have a chance to help them at all.
TIP 2 – Take Care of Your Physiology
This century has significantly influenced how we work, execute our job, and operate our bodies. We are no longer using our bodies in highly dynamic, active ways. This only accelerated during the pandemic and lock-down when we have hardly left our homes, which became our offices, playgrounds, schools etc. And for many people, turning houses into sport-centers or their favorite sports-clubs, was a bridge too far. Our bodies are our primary energy production machines. The way we move our bodies determines the way we feel and show up to the world. Therefore it is critical to ensure a regular workout (peak performance time) and our downtime (relaxation time) when the body can first mobilize and then let go of all the tension and accumulated stress. When possible, the workout should take a minimum 30min and not less than 3 times a week to help reduce high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and relieve dopamine and endorphins (happiness hormones).
TIP 3 – Focus on things you Can Control
When we listen to daily news, it is hard to stay optimistic and fearless these days. To draw our attention, the news is highlighting dramatic stories and emphasizing potential risks. It is essential to stay safe and secure the best living conditions for our families. It is also crucial to separate what’s important to know what is essential to do with what we know. The latter ensures that no matter what we hear, we keep the clarity on what we need to do as our next step. Focusing on what we Can Do, What We Need to Do, and what we WANT to do to execute our jobs, homeschooling, workouts, family bonding, etc as best as we can, is a refreshing perspective. It moves us from the victim mentality – when things happen to us, to the leader mentality – when we decide what these things mean to us and what we will do with them.
TIP 4 – Communicate and Share with People Around
This is not the best time to play solo. Human beings are social creatures, and especially in the face of danger, we need to nurture supporting and strengthening relationships. If not yet done, now is the time to openly share our needs and desires, fears and worries, and how we can help each other overcome those. Thanks to all that great technology, our communication with any place across the globe can take place instantly. And during the pandemic, many of these great solutions became available free on the market. When we are rested and adequately taken care of (physically and mentally), it is much easier to specify our needs and challenges to discuss all possible and probable solutions. More than before, our success moving forward can be determined by our clarity of decisions on managing our current household activities, work-related tasks, and life/family priorities in line with our life values.
TIP 5 – Find Joy and/or Contribute to a Bigger Picture
In these unprecedented times, we all experienced or knew people who had lots of pain, dramatic losses, and injustice happening to them for a few months. At the same time, however, each day is a new gift of life for many of us. Every day we can look for moments of joy, laughter, gratitude, and compassion when we can count our blessings. In some cases, us being alive is a blessing to the other people, whom we can help and support along with their struggles. Whenever possible, make sure you have someone you can lean onto and wherever you can – be that someone others can depend on. Sharing the moments of joy and even the pain is what human beings are made for. If it is not possible physically, make sure you reach out remotely: phone, Skype, zoom, face-time, WhatsApp app, or any other communicator you choose. Find joy in spending your time sharing precious moments and life gifts with the ones you love and care for deeply.
Accepting this New – Old – Normal and staying committed to good habits can help us stay well mentally and physically. The most important thing is not to give up.
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