A Guide to Covid Burnout

Blog Banner

Are you feeling exhausted but still feel like you should be doing more?

Do you feel overwhelmed and feel like you are constantly trying to meet demands from home/life work and so you feel deflated? This tiredness can move to stress and from there to emotional exhaustion which causes us to feel stuck and ultimately burnout.

So many people are feeling burnout right now because of the situation that we are stuck in with what can seem like a never-ending lockdown.

Burnout occurs when we have spent too much time caring, we notice that our capacity for caring and showing compassion diminishes and we start to feel like nothing that we do matters or makes a difference. (Freudenberger, 1975)

Covid has been the perfect storm for burnout, if we think about our evolutionary response to stress it has been fight and flight and when that fails, we freeze. We cannot see Covid to fight it, we cannot flee as we are locked down and so that leaves us with the option of freeze, couple that with the restricted opportunities to connect and experience social engagement and we have a situation where our window of tolerance is at capacity. Capacity can feel very much like overwhelm.

I wrote a blog last march called its “ok to not be ok” and at the time there was a lot of conversation around the word “permission”, permission to feel and permission to not be ok. I think at this stage we are mostly on board with this concept but what do we do once we admit that we are not ok? Do we admit it to ourselves and then push that emotion back down and carry on or do we avoid it altogether?

How can we navigate these feelings?

I trained in emotional intelligence over 7 years ago and something that I have only recognised in my own life recently and most likely because of covid, is that my perception of emotional agility was skewed, deep down I believed that emotional agility was my ability to not be affected by the emotion, to stand strong, to leap over and not be swept under and to always remain calm and collected.

However, emotional agility is in fact our ability to be curious and non-judgemental about our feelings and to avoid labelling them as good or bad but instead to use this information to recognise what we need to move forward.

Navigating our emotions also involves avoiding comparative suffering in other words, feeling like you cannot have a bad day because you are lucky to have a job or have a loving family or have access to space, this is not a competition and pushing those feelings down and denying their validity is what causes us to become stuck.

Instead, if we try to be curious and ask ourselves in this moment, what do I need more of? What can I access that is within my control? In most cases those feelings are signposting an individual need if we can just listen without judgement.

Do you need to take just 10 mins for you in the day and see that as an investment in you in terms of building up resources, do you need to connect more with people that are supportive and limit some interactions that are not helpful , do you need to adapt what you expect from yourself for that day?

Strategies for reducing the impact of Burnout

The Power of your breath

Try box breathing, a proven technique used across all walks of life including the Navy Seals,

1.Breathe in normally and then exhale for a count of

2.Hold for a count of

3.Exhale for a count of

4 Pause for a count of

(This breathing exercise also works if you want to steady nerves before interview)

Small daily goals

The value of small daily goals is huge, daily goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, and timely.

In other words, choose something that you want to achieve that is possible, decide by what time you want to complete it and then tick it off your list.

The feeling of achieving and accomplishing encourages us to feel motivated.

Maybe this is the time to start considering what you would like the next chapter of your life to look like, have your priorities changed? Journaling can be a great way to explore.

"Nature can bring you to stillness, that is its gift to you." -Eckhart Tolle

Try and get outdoors (maintaining social distancing) and take a sensory walk, what do you notice as you walk, it might be the colour of the leaves, the feeling of the breeze on your face, are you walking quickly or slowly, is your breathing quick and shallow or deep and slow. Being in nature has a restorative effect on us which can help reduce anxiety and increase our feelings of wellness. This is called the Biophilia theory.

Consider where your desk is located, is it possible to locate it near a window and have access to natural light, even better if you can see nature from your window. Try and sit somewhere that is not your bed.

Find a strategy that works for you while working such as the Pomodoro technique.

Pick one project or task you want to focus on. Set an alarm for 25-30 minutes and get to work. When the alarm sounds, take a two-to-three-minute break. Repeat this again and after four sessions, take a longer break.

Record each session with a tick or X in your notebook

Emotional experiences are like a tunnel with a beginning a middle and an end.

If we experience the same emotions day in and day out, we will become exhausted and get stuck in the tunnel with no energy to move towards the end of the tunnel and seek relief.

While we cannot control the stressor that is covid, we owe it to ourselves to manage the impact that the stress of the situation has on us.


Sign up below and I will endeavour to send you personalised tips and strategies that best fit your needs.

Sign Up Here


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!