Combating the burnout hangover whilst isolation exhaustion sets in

Working from home may not be everything it’s cracked up to be during this social distancing period. You thought you’d be waking up refreshed with plenty of sleep, but reality is you’re not. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Your head feels heavy and somewhat foggy, your body feels tired and you may feel like you’ve been running a marathon all night.

You’re not the only one! Let me tell you, I thought I’d be more energetic and feel refreshed in the morning now that I get a sleep in and work from home. Turns out I was wrong!  I had been waking up feeling like I had drunken a bottle of wine the night before for over a week.

After doing some research I came across an article written by Megan Murray and it seems that the likely cause of my symptoms was a burnout hangover.  At first I didn’t think this had validity, but after reading about it, it made more sense and explained a lot of what I was feeling.

A burnout hangover occurs because our bodies have been in adrenaline mode, always rushing around with our busy lives and not really slowing down. Now that we’re in social distancing our bodies are calming down (because we have no choice) and we’re really starting to feel the effects that constant adrenaline has caused.

What is burnout? Burnout is typically caused when you’re over worked and stressed, you feel like you can’t perform specific tasks and you are lacking in motivation and are exhausted. Because were constantly running around trying to manage a work –life balance we may not take the symptoms into account unless they are severe.  So naturally when the body starts to relax and unwind you may start to feel a bit fatigued, hence a burnout hangover.

Combating the burnout hangover whilst isolation exhaustion sets in.

The World Health Organisation has deemed burnout an “occupational phenomenon” and defines it as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.

As burnout is related to stress and fatigue induced by your work environment and lifestyle, taking away all the rushing around your body has been accustomed to for hours and years at a time, it’s no wonder that we are now starting to feel more tired than we did before. Our bodies are simply not used to it.

So, we have burnout hangover and we’re getting on top of it (we think), but could there also be something else making us feel fatigued?

Adding another layer to the way you are feeling may also have to do with what Professor Cain from Monash University has called “Isolation Exhaustion.“ The cause of this has to do with the lack of sunlight and the quality of sleep we are getting whilst in lockdown.

Naturally, as we are mostly working from home and social distancing we are not venturing out as we usually would and exposing ourselves to sunlight. Sunlight is beneficial to us in many ways as it is our source of Vitamin D and also lifts our mood.

When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep we may not be doing so. The current world climate has made many of us feel anxious which in turn plays havoc on our sleeping patters, as does spending more time on electronic devices.  Adding to this, if we are not waking up as we usually would our body clocks are becoming completely out of whack with our change in lifestyle and routine.

Having both burnout hangover and isolation exhaustion sounds too exhausting to deal with, but they can be overcome easily.

Combating the way you may be feeling and fatigue is easier than you may think. Yoga, meditation and regular exercise are a great way to relax the body and easy the mind and get some oxygen into those muscles.

Eat the right foods. You may be feeling low and want junk food or comfort food that isn’t that great and will ultimately make you feel worse. Stock your fridge and pantry full of healthy snacks and meals to give your body a boost of nutrients.

Practice self-care, if your body feels like sitting on the couch and just watching television on a particular day then do that, don’t force yourself to do something your body isn’t comfortable with whilst you’re feeling burnt out.

It may not feel like it in the morning, but sleep is also a good way to help your body rest, so try to get a good 7-8 hours a night.

If you feel that you are not coping with your fatigue or emotions talking to a medical professional is always recommended.

Now that you’re in isolation you have the time to look after yourself, use the time you would normally commute to and from work to practice self-care, do an online yoga or meditation class or go for a brisk walk and get some fresh air.

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