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What are some ways to deal with pandemic burnout at work?


Lori Ana Valentín, New York State Police, Forensic Scientist
Lori Ana Valentín, New York State Police, Forensic Scientist

Be honest with your supervisor and peers, so your team can best support you. Consider reducing your schedule. I love my job, but I found that reducing my hours during the pandemic significantly improved my mental health. Scale back on virtual meetings and communicate over the phone or via email whenever you can. Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day and work with your team to prioritize your tasks. Take a walk, read, or watch a quick comedy during your breaks. Don't overcommit yourself outside of work. It's ok to dial back on outside activities so you have more focused time for yourself. Devote your energy outside of work to the things that spark joy in your heart. If you are feeling depressed and/or anxious, seek therapy and/or peer support.  


Jacqueline Thomas, Senior Scientist, Procter & Gamble
Jacqueline Thomas, Senior Scientist, Procter & Gamble

Before COVID, I felt I had a pretty good work/home life balance. Now, I mostly work from home and feel the equilibrium is off. It can be a struggle to stay above the pandemic burnout threshold and here is how I have been handling it:

  • Keep active – now that spring is here, go for a walk outside; if the weather is bad maybe enroll in an online fitness classes; movement can help with focus and clarity
  • Take time off when needed – there are times that I feel like work is too much, and when that happens, I take a break. Whether it’s a Friday off or a week off, time off can give you a mental recharge
  • Stay connected – take time to talk with friends, family, and coworkers; connectedness helps to remind us that we are not alone, and we will get through this time together

Todd Alam, Department of Organic Materials Science, Sandia National Laboratories
Todd Alam, Department of Organic Materials Science, Sandia National Laboratories

I can attest that pandemic burnout is real, as I find myself drifting into my home office at all hours of the day – every day of the week – since it is easily accessible. My solution to burnout has been complete disconnection from the electronic world (no phone, no email, no computer!!!) to spend outdoors (gardening, hiking, camping etc.) for an entire day (or longer). The work will always be there when you return and reconnect.


This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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