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Mullen-Johnson: Creating Healthy Work/Life balance to Combat Burnout

By Crystal Mullen-Johnson

What is interfering with your work/life balance during transition to a new norm? In March of last year, millions of Americans swiftly transitioned to working remotely from home without setting boundaries around jobs, household chores, and/or parenting.

COVID-19 significantly impacted the way we work and socialize. Life prior to March 2020 was undoubtedly very different.  Some employees were experiencing burnout, pre-pandemic, due to overwhelming schedules and poor self-care management. Like many of you, I maintained a hectic schedule, which was consumed with seeing clients during the day and a healthy balance of good self-care in the evening.  What about you? Do you balance your hectic days with self-care evenings?

Unfortunately, the past 17 months have presented a challenge to finding a new norm or a routine of life that includes true work/life balance.  Employers are now requiring employees to return to work as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Uncertainty about the new norm creates worry, fear, and self-doubt.  It is time to consider how to create a healthy work/life balance to combat workplace burnout. Let’s explore more about burnout and what to do to become a healthier you.

What Is Burnout?

According to the World Health Organization, burnout syndrome results from chronic workplace stress that is characterized by feelings of exhaustion, energy depletion, negative or cynical feelings related to a job, and reduced professional efficacy.

Burnout can impact someone physically, emotionally, and mentally as it leads to prolonged exposure to stress.  The unmanageability of schedules, constant deadlines, increased workload, and unrealistic expectations have caused burnout for many. Research findings, conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting firm, reveals a majority of U.S employees (58 percent) say they are burnt out, up from 45 percent in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontline workers, and those that work remotely are at high risk for burnout. The consequence of burnout includes substance abuse, insomnia, fatigue, excessive stress, anger, and susceptibility to illness.

A Transitional Plan

As employees return to the workplace, it is critical to be intentional about creating a new schedule that includes self-care and allows time for flexibility. As you strive to meet the demands of work, consider prioritizing your mental and physical health. And also prioritize your schedule.  Learn to delegate to co-workers and/or family members to reduce burnout.

If you recognize symptoms of burnout, consider talking with a health care provider and a mental health care provider.

Develop a transitional plan to improve your daily habits around work/life balance to combat workplace burnout. Take time for self-reflection to identify bad habits you would like to discontinue and new habits you would like to create to develop work/life balance. During your time developing a transitional plan, examine your sleep habits, eating regimen, exercise routine, self-care activities, socialization, and include time for family. Ease into the workplace with a positive outlook.

Because you deserve to be happy and fulfilled, I encourage you to take care of your mental health by maintaining a balanced life. Remember, you cannot pour from a glass half full.  Balance matters. So, strive for a better, more balanced you.

Crystal Mullen-Johnson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Play Therapist in Birmingham, AL with more than 16 years of experience in providing counseling. Strive Counseling Services is a private practice located in downtown Birmingham that offers therapeutic mental health services to children (play therapy), adolescents, and adults. Strive offers evidence-based therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Contact us at (205) 721-9893 to inquire about Telehealth Services.