COVID-19 Pandemic Burnout: Ways to Manage Stress, Anger & Other Emotions

It’s been about a year since the initial stage of the pandemic, and yet it still feels like there is no end in sight! The pandemic has created unprecedented changes in our daily lives, pushing us to our limits, and influencing how we feel, act, and react to situations.  Do you find yourself feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, frustrated or angry?  You are not alone. Many of these emotions, especially when they are frequently occurring or intense, are indicators of burnout.

The Power of Stress  

Many are experiencing symptoms of the prolonged frustration and stress. That’s why, it’s important for us to be mindful of our stress levels during this time.  Stress plays a vital role in the way we feel, think, and react when we are under pressure. Stress is a warning sign, indicating that we need to evaluate what is happening internally and externally in our lives.  Furthermore, stress is deeply connected to anger and control.  It often forms when we try to control things that are beyond our control.  

When we feel stressed, anger tends to follow and can quickly accelerate into rage. This is often encouraged by a fixation on what can’t be controlled. The key to controlling anger is learning to effectively manage stress by focusing on what we can control. This is our attitude, our behavior, and our actions. The damage from stress can be minimized by learning to slow down and reevaluate the situation before reacting.  Focusing on controlling ourselves can significantly reduce feelings of stress, frustration, and anxiety. It can also help to give you a break from the burnout you might be feeling from the pandemic. Below are tips to manage your stress and minimize burnout.

Stress Management Techniques 

Reframing is a powerful tool that can be used to look at people, situations or stress differently.  Reframing is a technique that can be used to dispute irrational thoughts and replace them with healthier ones.  When we get stressed, our thoughts tend to focus only on the negative parts of a situation.  By using reframing, we can train our brain to see the positive outcome of a situation, ultimately, reducing anger. For more about reframing, click here.

Mindful Breathing can be implemented when we are struggling with stress or anger. Breathing exercises will help us to slow down, make better decisions, and respond to stressors in a calm and rational way.  

Consequential Thinking helps us explore different behaviors and the outcomes of those behaviors by thinking of the consequences of our anger ahead of time.  We gain the ability to prevent negative outcomes and choose the best plan of action to resolve conflict and stress in our lives.

Meditation is an act of contemplation aimed at changing and refocusing the mind. By practicing meditation, we regain control over our thoughts and mind, which help us to regulate our emotions and calm our anger.

Self-Care Tips to Help Prevent Burnout

Rest Up! Get lots of rest! Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.  A good night sleep will minimize stress, increase energy and improve memory.

Dress Up! Rose Turner, fashion psychologist, found that clothing impacts how people think and behave. Dressing up in a work outfit might promote motivation and increase concentration.  Or, wearing something special might even help lift your spirit.

Practice Saying “No.” Feeling overwhelmed? Practice saying no to coworkers or people who take up too much of your time. Instead, use your time on a self-care activity.

Ask for Help When Necessary. Let your needs be known to others, ask for help when you are feeling overwhelmed.  People are often ready and willing to pitch in.

Get Plenty of Exercise. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress.  Try going for a walk or a jog, alone, with a pet, or with a friend.  The fresh air will make a world of difference.

Eat Healthy. Fuel your body with plenty of healthy foods and avoid caffeine, sugary snacks, and drugs/alcohol.  Proper nourishment will sustain you throughout the day.

Separate Work and Home Life | Set Well-Defined Limits. Creating a schedule will help to set limits and define a healthy separation between work and home life.

Reward Yourself, Celebrate Your Win. Take time to recognize your hard work, and celebrate! Even a small reward will keep you motivated to continue to work hard.   

Reach Out and Stay Connected. Set aside time for regular zoom calls with family and friends. Go for a hike or walk with a friend, or, plan a socially distanced hangout with others. Nurturing workplace relationships with a friend or two at work can reduce stress and help reduce isolation.

Make Home a Sanctuary: “A home is simply a refuge; a place that hugs us when we walk through the door.” Making your home a sanctuary by surrounding yourself with things you love can trigger positive emotions, improve your mood and promote inner peace.

Acknowledge Your Feelings. Recognizing the symptoms of burnout, stress, anger, and more can help identify early warning signs, empowering you to gain control before any negative effects take root. 

Educate Yourself. Learning about the symptoms and implications of burnout will help determine whether you need to seek further advice from a licensed professional. 

Dealing with difficult situations is inevitable, it is part of the human experience.  The key is to create new coping mechanisms and strategies that will move you towards a healthier version of yourself!

References

How dressing up can make us happy. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20201127-how-dressing-up-can-make-us-happy

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