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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

How to Beat (Home) Office Burnout

Find post-COVID happiness with a little help from a Saratoga psychiatrist.

If you’ve been working throughout COVID, you’ll know that it hasn’t been an easy road. Months of isolation and for many, remote work, led to longer hours in the home office and eventually, all the symptoms of burnout. (Zoom fatigue, anyone?) Maybe you’ve reached your breaking point.

Dr. Manuel Astruc, a Saratoga Springs–based psychiatrist, feels your pain. In 2008, he reached a danger level of burnout working at his private practice. “I made a decision that something had to change,” he says. The catalyst was the death of his twin sister. “I was looking at a picture of her, and she was happy and grateful to be alive every second that she had until the end,” he says. “And here I was, healthy and miserable.”

That change manifested itself in a number of personal and professional tweaks that have allowed Dr. Astruc to be a lot happier, professionally. Eventually, it also led to the creation of Your Next Act (manuelastruc.com), his professional coaching program for entrepreneurs that helps them get on the right track, too. How can you beat back burnout and fall in love with your job again? Find out below.

FYI: Burnout Is a Syndrome
The World Health Organization identified burnout as an occupational syndrome in 2019. They defined it in terms of work stress, but it obviously applies to lots of other situations, too. It’s defined by physical and emotional exhaustion; and negativity, cynicism and bitterness that starts to creep into your soul. In work settings, we talk about not being or feeling as effective. It’s kind of like being on a treadmill; every day is drudgery, and there’s no end in sight.

Stamp Out the ANTs
I drew a line in the sand and said, no matter what, I’m going to start enjoying the ride. And what that had me do was stop wallowing in my negative thinking. One of the acronyms we use for negative thinking is ANTs—Automatic Negative Thoughts—and ANTs are everywhere. But we don’t have to pay attention to them.

Choose the ‘Growth’ Over the ‘Fixed Mindset’
The “fixed mindset” is that there’s nothing you can do, this is as good as it gets, there are no opportunities or changes available to you. The “growth mindset” opens us up to the opportunities in front of us. Like, something can change, I’ve got some power, I can get better at this, I have some agency in what’s going on here.    

Find Quick, Easy Wins
Quick wins help to protect us from burnout. What I first did in 2008 was focus on the wins that I could accomplish: eating better, moving more, sleeping better, and then having a gratitude practice. Every day I would identify things that I was grateful for. I cut myself off from the news and started to listen to podcasts and audio books instead. Things that could teach me about the world and inspire and motivate me. If you spend one hour a day, when you’re burned out, focusing on intentionally doing things that are interesting to you, it opens up a whole lot of resilience against burnout.        

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