Updated: Jan 29
It has been difficult for everyone, trying to find new coping strategies can be difficult...read on to find some new strategies and learn more about burnout.
Whatever your situation during the pandemic, it has been a difficult and mentally exhausting couple of years. So, how can you help yourself maintain your mental health so that you don't feel overwhelmed, burnout, or sink into depression? First, let me explain what burnout is, how it manifests and what symptoms or signs to look for.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is usually associated with working too much; however, the pandemic has created a different and new form of burnout which affects everyone. No matter who your are the restrictions, school closures, gym closures, new work environments, higher demand, masks, feeling alone. Whether your mental health has been worsened or amplified by the restrictions, it has certainly amplified stress and emotions, it has divided families and made socialization difficult if not impossible. So, we are all experiencing burnout right now. It has become more important than ever before to find ways to avoid or prevent burnout as much as possible and improve our mental health.
Who Can Get Burnout?
Anyone can get burnout! Right now, the repetition of your current situation and the uncertainty of how long it is all going to last has created a perfect storm that affects our mental health. It can also affect your children, so keep an eye out and if they are acting more irritable lately they may be experiencing their own COVID burnout. How can you help?
Ways to Help your Kids through burnout....
Get them outside
Change up the regular routine
Talk with them about their worries / concerns / fears
Really listen to what they are saying
Try to offer them a change of scenery - even going to a different city / town can help
Help them get social, organize playdates, book lessons
Keep them active
Signs of Burnout
Getting angry more easily than normal
Loss of interest in things you normally would have loved to do
Feeling run-down, irritable, angry
Increased consumption of alcohol or drugs
If you think this sounds like you, you may be experiencing burnout, let me reassure you that you are not alone, so many people currently are suffering from burnout right now. So, what can you do about it? There are many tools you can use to prevent, improve or avoid burnout.
If you already have a mental health routine that works for you, keep doing it as much as you can. It is important that even if something feels difficult, but it has proven useful in the past, you should try to encourage yourself to keep up with it.
Try to find what may be causing or increasing your stress levels (like news, t.v., work, isolation) and try to cut down on these activities as much as you can. Obviously if it is work, this may be unavoidable, but make sure that you are taking your vacations, or days off for your sake. If you find that watching the news is making you feel stressed, for example, limit yourself to watch once per week. Limiting the activities that cause you stress will help you feel less anxious.
As much as you can get outside, sunshine and fresh air are extremely beneficial to improving mental health.
Get your body moving! Increasing your heart rate by walking, exercising, yoga - whatever your exercise level it is important to move your body. Exercise increases serotonin production which is the hormone that increases the 'happy feelings' in our brains.
Take a moment for yourself. Whether you meditate, read, write, draw, or just sit it is important to take time to reflect on your needs, quietly. It is ok to take time to refill your own battery because when we are full and rested it is easier to be there for those around us.
If you are someone who would normally be travelling, but can't right now perhaps it is a good time to plan a trip. Just the act of thinking of and preparing / planning a trip will give you something to look forward to. You don't have to book anything right now, but put together a travel itinerary so that when you are comfortable travelling again you can quickly book something.
Call a friend. Sometimes all we need to do is connect with someone, so if you have been missing coffee with a life-long friend, give them a call.
If nothing else seems to be working, and you cannot seem to refill your tank on your own it may be time to seek professional help. Most benefits packages will cover some or all of the cost of a session with an RCC (registered clinical counsellor) or CCC (certified clinical counsellor). Also your company may offer an EAP (employee assistance program). Look into your options, as we also know counselling is expensive.
In order to find someone that would fit with your needs on the BCACC website BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (bcacc.ca), CCPA website Find a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) or CCC-Supervisor (CCC-S) - Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (ccpa-accp.ca)