Working from home can have many positives – no stressful commute, answering your emails in your pyjamas, conducting Zoom meetings from your sofa – and if you run your own business, it can keep your costs down. But it can be a double-edged sword, upsetting your work-life balance and leading to burnout, anxiety and loneliness. Thankfully, there are some actions you can take to avoid the pitfalls.

In this article: 

  • What is burnout?
  • Why a work-life balance can benefit your business
  • Minimising burnout, stress and exhaustion when working from home 
  • Top tips including having a dedicated office / work space, meeting up with friends and self-care

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It can happen when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet everyday demands. Working from home stress, isolation and anxiety can particularly contribute to this because you have added pressures you wouldn’t have if you were in an office – from family members or flat mates breaking your concentration, no dedicated workspace, lack of camaraderie with colleagues and more.

The importance of work-life balance

One antidote to burnout is a good work-life balance. This may be tough if you’re running your own business as you may want to be driving it forward whenever you can. But spending too much time working can harm your productivity rather than increase it. If you’re tired or overworked it can also affect your physical health, leading to disturbed sleep and raising your chances of illness.

By taking regular breaks away from your work, you can reduce stress and anxiety and return more energised and productive.

Healthy ways to work from home 

There are a number of actions you can take to make sure your work-life and personal / family life remain balanced.

1. Be in touch with family and friends

It’s been a tough year for many with lockdowns and social distancing, but those connections with friends, colleagues and family have never been more important. You may feel much better after having a good catch up with a mate or spending some quality time with the kids, so make sure you plan this regularly in your weekly diary. If social distancing makes it tricky to meet up in person, make the most of online tech – Zoom meetings, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, online networking events, Facebook groups and live videos. There are dozens of ways to stay in touch.

2. Create a dedicated workspace

If you can, set up a dedicated space for your work where you can find some quiet. Constant interruptions when you’re trying to focus is frustrating. Having a specific area also allows you to organise everything you need in one place. 

3. Switch off and recharge

It can be hard to wind down when you work for yourself. You may think: “I’ll just answer that email”, or “I’ll just finish that piece of writing before I stop”. Before you know it, your work life – and stresses – bleed into the evening and then night-time. You can end up scrolling through messages while brushing your teeth and uploading social media posts before you go to sleep. No matter how passionate you are about what you do, it’s important to decompress, so give yourself regular time away from digital. Close down your computer, turn off your phone and do something to recharge your batteries.

4. Healthy eating and exercise

If you feel good physically, it will be easier for you to manage the stresses that work throws at you. Make sure you choose nutritious foods that fuel your body while you work and take regular breaks to exercise. Whether it’s a walk, run or something else – pick something you enjoy that makes you feel good.

5. Prioritise your self-care

You are the driving force behind your business but just as a car needs regular maintenance to stay in tip top condition, so do you. We’ve already mentioned diet and exercise but consider spending time on other things that help you to relax – read a book, take a bath, watch a funny film, bake something delicious, meditate for ten minutes. It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it leaves you feeling refreshed instead of stressed.

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