With Covid-19 upending every aspect of our lives, it would be an understatement to say that it’s been a challenging year. From the way we work to our home life, it’s been a year of changes which have redefined the way we live.
Working at home has further blurred the boundaries of work and leisure time, bringing with it a pressure to continuously perform. Being in this state of always on, without the relief of a break leaves people overwhelmed and more likely to experience burnout.
“While getting through the last weeks of a working year is usually challenging, the pandemic has intensified this state, leaving us feeling depleted as a result of restricted human contact and the relentless impact of the virus,” says pharmacist Edwin Govender, co-founder of the designer brain-supplement company, Neurologica.
Stress versus burnout
While stress is an inescapable part of life, extended periods of stress without an end in sight can leave you feeling depleted with a pervasive sense of hopelessness, signalling possible burnout.
If you have been feeling physically and mentally drained, accompanied by feelings of helplessness, self-doubt, depression, being unmotivated, defeated and fatigued in every area of life, these may very well be symptoms of burnout.
“Being exposed to long periods of excessive pressure or extreme stress in a short period can lead to burnout symptoms of underperformance, feelings of being overwhelmed, hopelessness, loss of meaning in your job, and feeling emotionally drained and unable to cope with the demands of work.
It is important to address a situation of excessive stress as soon as possible to manage this state of overwhelm,” says Govender who recommends the following key strategies to regain balance and effectively manage stress before it leads to burnout.
Nourish your inner world
If you find yourself emotionally, psychologically and physically depleted, chances are you are not looking after your inner world.
“We need to find ways to fulfil ourselves from the inside out, engaging in actions that increase rather than consume our energy. This includes starting a hobby, reading something inspiring, journaling, sharing your thoughts and feelings and engaging with friends or family,” says Govender.
Guard your time
Minimising multitasking can bring a sense of control to counteract feelings of being overwhelmed. Avoid saying “yes” to unnecessary requests on your time so that you can focus on your own priorities.
“Schedule regular breaks and set times for beginning and ending your workday. It is also important to manage your technology engagement, especially the hour before bed, resting your brain away from stimuli before sleep.”
Create ways to nurture yourself emotionally and mentally by meditating or practising yoga. Physical self-care includes eating nourishing foods such as fresh fruit and foods rich in Omega-3 oils while minimising sugar and refined carbs. Exercise is also an excellent avenue for releasing tension.
By imbuing your work with a sense of purpose such as making a difference to others, assisting a colleague or having a positive impact on the world, you address the sense of meaningless often accompanying burnout.
Sharing your thoughts and feelings, especially during the time of social distancing can help relieve the psychological and emotional stress. Connect with friends, family, your co-workers or join a support group such as SADAG to help you through this time.
Enhance your brain’s functionality
It is also important to boost yourself on a physical level. This means supporting yourself with replenishing functional supplements such as nootropics like vitamins, adaptogens, herbs, antioxidants and other compounds – brain enhancing supplements specifically formulated to enhance cognitive abilities, mental energy, reduce stress, aid relaxation, and improve sleep.
While coffee and camomile tea are well-known nootropics which enhance our focus and reduce anxiety and insomnia respectively, there are a wide range of nootropic supplements. Known for their neuroprotective (or preventative) benefits, nootropics enable you to rise above anxiety, combat stress, concentrate with ease and perform with confidence, with a cool, calm and collected mind to nurture you through feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
“For optimal benefits ensure the design phase is managed by a qualified scientific or pharmaceutical professional. This includes using ingredients from reputable sources which are then combined and manufactured in plants complying with the standards of Good Manufacturing Practices,” says Govender.
Build yourself up
Harness your energy so that you use it strategically. Notice your working patterns and be vigilant about taking your breaks. Check in with how you are coping and make adjustments when necessary to ease your stress levels.
“Start to renew your confidence by tackling one small task at a time. This helps to build resilience while developing a more positive outlook to support you through this time. In this way you can replenish your inner world, giving you the boost to get through these last working weeks until you have the chance to fully unwind, relax and reboot during the Holiday Season,” concludes Govender.