How to beat burnout when working from home

Luke Sumpter
COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns have forced millions of people all over the world to work from home. Migrating from offices filled with colleagues to their kitchen tables and living room couches, many workers are now experiencing work from home burnout. Discover the symptoms and learn how to handle the condition to the best of your ability.

Only two years ago, millions of people spent moments of their day fantasising about what it would be like to work from home. They probably imagined rolling out of bed ten minutes before clocking in, pouring some warm coffee, and sitting in their dressing gown ready to crunch numbers and write content.
To many people, working from home felt like a privilege denied to them; something that would radically improve their quality of life. No more 90-minute commutes on stuffy trains and buses, and no more arriving and leaving work in the dark during the winter months.


The real impact of working from home
The emergence of COVID-19 and the subsequent global pandemic suddenly made this dream a tangible reality. For well over a year, millions of people all over the world have worked from lounge sofas, kitchen worktops, and dining room tables.
Some people quickly adapted to this new environment, enjoying the convenience and comfort it provided. With no more commuting to worry about, one could pursue their e-commerce business with more drive. For others, working from home didn’t live up to the daydreams and fantasies.
Spending all day at home, for months on end, has left some people feeling isolated, stressed, and burnt out. Content creators are facing writer’s block, and even failing to produce high-quality work.
A survey conducted by jobs website Monster found that 51% of workers felt they had experienced work from home burnout due to COVID-19. Adding to this, 52% of the participants expressed that they ruled out taking time off to recover.
Work from home burnout sets in for several different reasons. For some people, the boundaries between work life and home life have faded. They find themselves working well before and after the times they are required to start and finish.
For others, social isolation takes more of a toll than excess work. Being alone for a long period of time can greatly impact mental health, and may manifest as frustration, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Keep reading to find out which groups are most likely to suffer from work at home burnout, what the symptoms are, and tips you can use to manage and prevent it.


Who suffers from work from home burnout?
Everybody has their own personality, likes and dislikes, and way of doing things. This naturally means that some groups thrive when working from home and feel more energised and motivated to get things done. Others, however, struggle and eventually burn out.
Many different groups and personality types are likely to feel the effects of burnout when working from home, including the three below.


If working from home has taken a toll on you, imagine working from home as a manager or boss. Not only are they confined to their own house, but they have to engage in endless zoom sessions, phone calls, and emails to supervise large groups to make sure they’re doing their fair share.
Although managers and bosses sometimes come across as strict and organised leaders, they also feel the human emotions of stress and anxiety and suffer from burnout too.


Extroverts are a personality group that thrive and feel energised when surrounded by others. They experience motivation when working in groups and tightly knit teams, they often talk more than they listen and mostly love fast-paced and stressful working environments.
Introverts occupy the opposing end of the spectrum. They gather their energy and inspiration when alone and quickly become drained when forced to work in a stressful environment for too long.
Clearly, extroverts have suffered more from the isolation of lockdowns. Without an external source to keep them engaged and driven, many have found themselves losing motivation and that zest for life.


Some people are more predisposed to work from home burnout than others. Managers have greater workloads; extroverts are less suited to the environment. But burning out can and does happen to everyone.
Below, we’ll explore the symptoms of burning out, and then share some helpful tips you can use to avoid exhausting yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally when working from home.

Yuqo quotesWork from home burnout sets in for several different reasons. For some people, the boundaries between work life and home life have faded. They find themselves working well before and after the times they are required to start and finish.



Symptoms of work from home burnout
The World Health Organisation (WHO) highlighted the prevalence of burnout in 2019 and categorised it as an “occupational phenomenon”, adding it to the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
The authors of the revision defined burnout as the following: “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.
The condition often manifests as the following symptoms.


Those suffering from work from home burnout quickly find themselves with much less energy than they’re used to. Instead of waking up ready to embrace the day, they feel depleted and exhausted, even with adequate sleep.


Motivation can quickly disappear when working from home, especially among those who have never done it before. People feel an increasing mental distance from their job and responsibilities, and they may feel negative or cynical toward their position and the company they work for.


Reduced energy and lower motivation inevitably lead to reduced professional efficacy. People may produce poor-quality work, are much more likely to make common errors, and may start to become so scrambled that they miss meetings or consistently turn up late.


Tips to manage work from home burnout
Now you’re aware of the definition and symptoms of work from home burnout. But what can you do about it if it arrives? We’ve assembled some tips that will help you ride the wave and come out the other side a stronger and more resilient person.


One of the main reasons people experience work from home burnout is simply overworking. They start earlier and finish later. The ability to suddenly switch from life mode to work mode happens at the click of a mouse button.
The National Bureau of Economic Research conducted a huge survey answered by over 3 million people working from home. They compared two eight-week periods—one before the lockdowns, and one after. The survey results showed that the average working day increased by 48 minutes.
To avoid overworking yourself, have a read of your job description and remind yourself how many hours you’re paid to work. If you have energy in the morning or evening to put in some extra work, then go ahead! If you start to feel work from home burnout set in, put up some firm barriers and simply say no in the name of your health.


Many people in your workplace are going through the same thing as you. Simply talking honestly and openly about your feelings with others can remove a huge burden from your shoulders. It might not resolve your burnout right away, but it will certainly make you feel emotionally lighter.


You’re entitled to a certain amount of breaks in a day, and they’re there for a reason. Alleviate your workload and take some time to breathe, literally. Breathing deeply and consciously can help to tame the nervous system and enable you to relax. Ideally, try to get off your phone during this time and really use your breaks to wind down and take care of yourself.


Keeping yourself organised can turn an intimidating mountain of work into many easily manageable molehills. Write down small goals to achieve throughout the day, and tick them all off as you go. If you manage to tick off 75% of the tasks, you had a great day. If you tick them all off, you couldn’t have done any better!


The commute can make or break your working day. Sometimes they serve as a time to reflect and decompress, and other times they are busy, chaotic, and extremely stressful.
On the days where commutes were bearable, they’d give you some time to pause and think, ultimately putting you in a better mental state for your workday. Suddenly, this gap in the day vanished. Now, working from home, many people are either working through this time or using it to cook, watch TV, or look after the kids.
Even if you only sit and pause for five minutes, try and incorporate some stillness and reflection into your old commute time. This moment of peace has the potential to ripple out into your entire day.


Sitting at a desk all day can take a toll on your body. When we move, our brains release a cocktail of feel-good hormones that make us feel alive and well. Use this free and natural sensation to keep work from home burnout at bay. You don’t have to run a marathon every day after work. Just put 20 minutes aside for a few pushups, planks, and crunches to feel the effects.


Days off are not for working! You’ve earned the time to do as you please. Just don’t spend them doing what you’ve done all week: sitting in front of that laptop.
Think of what makes you feel alive, and do it. Go for a hike in the mountains, head to the forest, go to the beach, go for a pint with your friends, and dive into some deep conversations. You’ll feel your work from home burnout melt away the second you visit a beautiful place or meet up with some good friends.


Take care of yourself while working from home
Ultimately, it all boils down to putting yourself first. Of course, you have a duty to fulfil at work, and you should always work with passion and to the best of your ability. But don’t let working from home rob you of those precious hours of free time.
Resist the temptation to overwork, check in with your colleagues, and most of all, make every day off an adventure to remember or a time of blissful peace.