Dealing with my stress and burnout

By Stanley Arumugam

In this time of COVID-19, many people are experiencing severe work stress and, for some, leading to burnout. It’s easy to be deceived into accepting remote working as ‘the new normal’ as work without boundaries, being available 24/7 and accepting that it’s OK not to take a regular break. This way of working is not sustainable. 

A few years ago, I experienced the severity of overwhelming work demands, a non-stop schedule that exhausted me both mentally and physically, as I capture in my poem below. Here also are some tips that work for me:

  1. Start the day with a time of quiet: meditation, prayer, journaling 
  2. Engage in some physical activity: making coffee counts, as does stretching, walking around your neighbourhood 
  3. Take regular breaks in the day: morning, afternoon and especially a lunch break 
  4. After every task/assignment, step away from your computer after every task/assignment: give yourself a sense of closure, completeness. I wash dishes as a break from my cerebral activities
  5. Make time for your family: spend quality time in the day; having a regular ritual can be helpful
  6. Stay connected with your team at a personal level: set up a virtual check-in or chat 
  7. Doodle: as you sit through long and sometimes dull meetings, release your creativity which can help your engaging  
  8. Be kind in your on-line communication: quickly discharged emails ‘on the go’ create a boomerang effect which can spoil your day
  9. Listen to music as you get through the day: whatever keeps you joyful 
  10. Examen: I use a contemplative prayer at the end of most days to review my day: what am I grateful for and imagine my day tomorrow focusing on intentional moments of love and joy

This week:

  • Which of these am I already doing?
  • Are there any others which might be helpful to try?

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