Ever since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, people across the world have been struggling. Juggling remote work, childcare and other major chores in our lives has brought out a feeling of burnout in recent times and we’re experiencing lockdown blues. Preachy calls to pick up a new hobby might make it worse. Read on to know more about it:
What is Burnout?
It is a term casually used for relentless overwork. It’s mainly used to describe millennials, who have been hustling to a point of over-exhaustiveness. Believe it or not, burnout is still very much around. A major reason is that millions of people are now in lockdown as Covid-19 sweeps the globe. But as doctors have pointed out, it looks a little different now.
The Lockdown Effect
Many have lost their jobs during the lockdown amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Many of those lucky enough to still have a job, perform their daily work while staying in the boundaries of their homes. Also, several of them are simultaneously balancing their family’s pressing needs. Daily life has been more unstable than ever, and we are facing dilemmas we never did before. Should I disinfect my groceries? Can I touch the packages I just received? Can I hug my kids?
The Exhaustion of Choices
Usually, a burnout is referred to something one gets after working for long 8 or 12-hour shifts on a daily basis. It usually involves making and receiving loads of calls, huge trails of work loads, and low buffer time in between them.
But in a lockdown crisis like this, burnout can emerge because of something different – what experts call ‘decision fatigue’. The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing us to rapidly tackle with strenuous decisions, in an unnervingly new context. We are forced to make decisions that weren’t of much importance in the pre-lockdown era. We are rethinking the implications of ordering food online, or buying a book from Amazon. Even going for grocery shopping to the nearby store has become an arduous job.
This decision fatigue, combined with the pressure we’re putting on ourselves to make smart, safe choices for ourselves, our families and our communities, can lead to pandemic-specific burnout.
Experiencing emotional exhaustion and anxiety is a pretty common occurrence, especially during a hectic work schedule. But the problem is that many of our usual coping mechanisms have vanished recently due to the lockdown. We are unable to blow off the steam by going to the gym, taking an art class, or pretty much anything outside the bounds of our houses. Also, trying to adopt a new way to unwind, might actually aggravate the burnout.
“It’s this psychological stress most of us aren’t used to. We’ve never experienced anything like this in modern times”, says Yuko, a New York-based journalist and Fordham University adjunct professor
The Silver Lining
Lotte Dyrbye, doctor at the Mayo Clinic, one of the largest medical research institutions in the US, researches burnout and the well-being of physicians. She says people need to find things that work for them, whether it’s meditation, solitary walks or bingeing on Netflix.
This all is a season. This will pass. It may be difficult… there’s a lot of scary things between point A and point B. But point B exists. And every day that we’re in quarantine, we’re closer to that time.~ Lotte Dyrbye, Researcher at Mayo Clinic
Among all the chaos that persists today, there’s a potential silver lining. You may hone some key life skills. Burnout is caused by unrealistic expectations, either from our employer or from ourselves. But coming out of the pandemic may shift our perspectives.
This is going to make everybody’s ability to manage, cope and be flexible much better. So when we go back to our routine, things are going to be easier because we’ve done something that pushed us to our limits.