Working from home is causing burnout and breakdowns a year into lockdown

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Over the weekend this article in the Globe and Mail was trending on Twitter, for obvious reasons. So many people can relate to the title, “White-collar professionals are breaking down, a year into the pandemic,” because we’re overworked and just tired. There’s an undercurrent to work from home burnout. There’s the sense that now is not the time to complain about having a job. Instead people are taking on more work, sometimes at their company’s request, sometimes out of a sense of pressure, obligation, ambition or even boredom. Without a separation between work and home life, and without the standard ways of socializing, it’s bleeding together and becoming pure stress. This article starts with the fact that most people are working two to two and half more hours a day than they were pre-pandemic. Plus less employees are taking vacations because there’s nowhere to go. I’m going to excerpt some of this and it’s paywalled unfortunately. Thanks to Elaine and Shannon for sending this to me.

“People use the term pandemic fatigue, but that underestimates what we’re going through,” says Paula Allen, head of research and well-being at Morneau Shepell. “People are at the point of emotional exhaustion.”

Nearly a year into physical separation from colleagues, bosses and clients – sometimes coupled with kids trapped at home – white collar professionals are cracking. Often, top performers who tend to push through the pain are those who are struggling the most. A recent Morneau Shepell survey found that 40 per cent of managers in finance and professional services have considered leaving their jobs since the pandemic started.

It’s an unexpected development, given that white collar workers are precisely the people who were expected to be doing the best. For the most part, their jobs have been protected from the economic devastation of the past year. While small businesses and service sector employees have been decimated by lockdowns, workers in industries such as finance, tech, law and accounting have been able to keep their jobs – and largely have the flexibility to work from their homes or vacation properties.

This has even been a boom time for some sectors. Stock markets, for instance, are at record highs, and that has fuelled all sorts of activity, helping boost the gross domestic product from the finance and insurance sector by 3 per cent between February and December, 2020, according to Statistics Canada.

But it’s now clear that for many white collar professionals the struggle is very real. There isn’t an obvious reason why they are feeling this way now. Financial success can mask mounting psychological stresses – especially because white collar workers can easily tell themselves that they’ve come through the pandemic relatively unscathed and shouldn’t be struggling.

“There’s so much going on right now. And nobody can really point their finger at it,” says KPMG Canada’s chief mental-health officer Denis Trottier, who was semi-retired until the pandemic brought him back to work full time.

The feelings can be partly explained by the erasure of social connections at work that help people power through long, intense days. Work and home life now blend into one – with work often taking precedence. Gone are the small joys of life that once seemed like distractions, but that researchers say are important to keeping us engaged and preventing burnout: the coffees, the lunches, the gossip.

But so much of it remains nebulous – and that can make it even more maddening.

Bryn Ferris is a change management consultant who can work from home, and his company has done well enough to keep everyone employed. For many months, he felt relief that his business wasn’t severely affected.

Lately, though, he feels something much more harrowing. The emotion is hard to define – it’s more, as he calls it, a “steady-state numbness.” There’s little joy day in and day out, and it’s a battle to get motivated.

“I empathize with the feeling that we have it so good,” he says. But it’s such an overwhelming problem lately that he’s past denying it or trying to power through it. Like so many others, he’s hit the wall, and doesn’t see a way out. “I am stuck in purgatory,” he says.

[From The Globe and Mail]

I could relate to this so much. I’m the only one putting pressure on myself, but I took on more work at the start of the pandemic and it hasn’t let up. There’s this sense that I have it great and shouldn’t complain. Plus I know how hard Kaiser, Hecate and Oya are working too. Yesterday I got food poisoning and started catastrophizing everything. I was planning to write this story and thought “this is it, my breakdown is happening.” Plus I had an extremely rare dinner scheduled with a vaccinated friend which I had to cancel! (She understood, she is sweet and we would have worn masks.) I don’t know what the solution is except to go to bed earlier, but I know so many of you are feeling this way too.

On my tweet about this over the weekend, R wrote that she works ten hour days and still works weekends, Lauren wrote that people are so stressed at her job that they’re quitting, and Shannon, who works in the health system tweeted “we’re doing double work, trapped at home, without our coping mechanisms.” That pretty much sums it up.

Oh and my mom sent me this article from The Washington Post about how pandemic stress is affecting our ability to focus. They quote a business school dean, a “burnout expert” named Anthony Wheeler, who says “People are losing the psychological, social, and emotional resources that we use to meet the demands of our daily lives.” This is so true. I really hope to be vaccinated and to get some of that back soon.

This is me ordering junk from Amazon to cope. I’m doing less Amazon posts so I don’t order as much stuff.
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photos credit: Vlada Karpovich on Pexels, Standsome Worklifesyle, Ekaterina Bolovtsova, Charles Deluvio and Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

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78 Responses to “Working from home is causing burnout and breakdowns a year into lockdown”

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  1. Angie says:

    I’m definitely feeling this. Also, my company has had so much turnover. People are leaving their jobs despite the uncertainty because they’ve just had it.

    • Eleonora says:

      Smart companies don’t let it get so far.

      Having people leave costs a lot of money in having to recruit, train etc.
      Not to mention all the knowledge and experience being lost.

      If it’s really bad, a company gets a bad name in its industry (because ex-employees tell their new colleagues how shit it was).

    • BrainFog says:

      I am so very much feeling this too. I had done home office for a year now and I am beyond exhausted and burned out. I would have had an important exam at the university a couple of weeks ago, and I had to cancel. My life is on hold because, like they said correctly, all of my coping mechanisms are unavailable.
      At least my employer is trying to do some nice and smart things, they really put an effort in to keep people motivated and healthy, but it’s just been too much for too long. People are quitting left and right.

    • Kate B says:

      I’m just sixty days out of entry to detox rehab and I blame Covid/lockdown and Donald J. Rump 90% for my breakdown. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

    • Elizabeth Phillips says:

      I do customer service for a health insurance company, so I’m dealing with MY burnout, plus THEIR stress with being at home 24/7 or having covid or trying not to get covid or dealing with other health issues while trying not to get covid or trying to teach 80-year-olds how to use the internet for the first time so they can look up their benefits for themselves.

      • Joanna says:

        Oh I feel you on that! I work at a bank and half my job seems to be teaching technology to seniors lol.

    • TaraBest says:

      When lockdown began I was already working a job that had me on call nights, weekends, holidays, whenever. Unplugging at 5 was a rarity, if not impossible as I had to check emails constantly in “off” hours. I ended up losing over 30 vacation hours at the end of the year because even if I took time off I was answering emails and calls, essentially still working from home since I wasn’t traveling. In November a co-worker quit and they chose not to replace her, but shift her work load on the 2 of us remaining in the same position. They denied my request to even talk about a raise so, I started the search for a new job.

      I found one, but it required relocation to another state within 30 days of accepting the offer. I didn’t plan on moving during a pandemic, and the shortened timeline was difficult, but I did what I had to do. I can say that my working conditions are better now, but it’s been strange to start work and not meet any of my new colleagues in person.

      This last year has also had the extra stress of my partner has being unemployed (former food & bev worker but is immunocompromised so not safe to work right now). I’ve definitely gone back and forth between grateful to have a job, and losing it because of burnout. Any concept of a “normal” life returning feels so impossible lately. I hope this leads to some big changes from employers as they realize that employees are also *gasp* PEOPLE who have emotional needs!

  2. Cate says:

    I have had to get really strict with myself about shutting down all work stuff at 5pm and not looking at it until the next morning. It’s so easy to have it bleed into the evening if I don’t. I’m lucky that my job is fairly secure and I have enough experience to feel comfortable erecting this barrier. It definitely helps with not getting burned out.

    • LadyMTL says:

      Cate, your point is SUPER important. I’ve been working from home (about 90% of the time) for over five years now, and I always make sure that when my workday is over, it’s over. I don’t check emails, open a file or two, nothing. Whatever comes in after I’m ‘gone’ can wait until the next morning.

      That said, I am fortunate in that my office is not the type of place where they expect people to be working insane hours, but I do have some coworkers who put in unpaid overtime because they feel like they’d be reprimanded if they let the work sit until the next day (that’s really not the case, but they can’t help themselves). I won’t do it because I know it wouldn’t be good for my mental health. The workday needs to end at some point, right?

    • Kate says:

      Yes, same here. That seems to work out well for me too but it is a luxury to be able to set boundaries with your employer. My husband’s boss has zero boundaries – will have him on calls at 10pm at night – demands meetings and immediate responses to emails. Some days he can’t even take 5 minutes to fix himself some lunch or go for a walk around the neighborhood with me to get some fresh air. By the time he’s finished his work he has to choose between going straight to sleep and repeating everything the next day or taking a break in front of the tv to decompress and he always chooses the latter which means he’s not getting enough sleep either. He’s had a couple meltdowns where he nearly quit, and he’s ready to go back to the office so his boss can see that he is actually working and leave him alone at the end of the day when he goes home.

      I think to be a good pandemic boss you have to take extra measures to connect with your employees to replace the chit chat and pleasantries you would do in person and to see how they are doing and let them know you care. Many bosses are not doing that and have just become assignment robots like issuing orders without finding out if the employees are doing okay or can take on the work. So as a WFH employee you’re just getting impersonal directives all day long to work more work more work more and rarely receiving any gratitude or meaningful signs of approval and encouragement (an email ‘Thanks’ doesn’t really pack much of a punch especially when immediately followed by 5 more requests). That really contributes to the burnout when you feel like you are just giving and giving and it never feels like you’re doing enough.

    • Case says:

      I’m the same way. I’m fortunate to not have a job where I need to be available 24/7 and I take full advantage of that. I don’t have work email alerts on my phone, and I shut down at 5 p.m. sharp most days. My downtime is mine, and I take boundaries really seriously. My boss sucks at this — she always goes on and on about how late she works, etc. (she takes her dog for two-hour walks midday and fails to compute this time into her “working late”), but she doesn’t pressure us to do the same, thank goodness.

    • lucy2 says:

      I constantly try to do that, but spend most of the day dealing with calls and problems, and the only time I get any real work done is after all that! I’ve been working a LOT of evenings and weekends, and find it harder to get going in the morning anyway because I know I’m going to be working until 7 or 8 pm (or sometimes later).
      I do not answer calls or texts outside of 9-5, which helps, but we’re super busy, and out clients seem even more demanding than usual. I’ve come very close to snapping at several of them that everyone is doing the best we can in this situation! And I’m one of the few lucky ones who doesn’t have young kids at home too.
      And every time I complain like this I have to remind myself how lucky I am to have a job, especially one I do enjoy, and a good boss and coworkers.

  3. Eleonor says:

    “People are at the point of emotional exhaustion.”
    This.
    I have been working from home for ONE year.
    The anniversary was on March 17. I am going to loose my job I think in June (we still don’t have the date) and I have spent one week crying, I screwed up my relationship with my partner because I was an a-hole to hime without a reason except I have reached my breaking point. I have apologized as soon as I understood I am cracking, and I am glad he has understood…but he is a mess too.
    I have started applying for new jobs, and I had to decline offers because my brain is telling me I need to rest, if I start in a new company I will go on full meltdown. So I will wait to know when I’ll leave the company, I will take a month, and then I wil start applying again.
    My friends are in the same boat too: crying, breaking down.
    Big hug to all of you. We have the vaccine, we can heal <3

    • Mirage says:

      Totally feel for you Eleonor.
      I felt so much pressure working remotely until I was made redundant late last year. It took me 2 months to recover emotionally from the ordeal of the redundancy and also from being over worked.
      Be kind to yourself. You’re human.

      • Eleonor says:

        Big hug to you.
        I am not joking: I have been called by a head hunter, they saw my cv, but they are looking for someone asap, I have politely declined, I need to rest.
        On the other side: I have received offers, so I hope I will not be unemployed for too long (and hopefully my colleagues too), this is positive. But I need to heal a bit before starting a new adventure.

  4. Lily P says:

    Good lord I don’t think I’ve actually managed to switch off and feel relaxed at any point this last year – I think screens have been permanently burnt onto my retina.

  5. Esmom says:

    CB, hope you feel better soon. Strangely, I had my first pandemic breakdown, too, this weekend. A bunch of factors caused it, I think. Part of it is work. Our office is almost back to full in-person operations although in my role I get to spend 80% of my time working from home. A few f my co-workers are resentful that I don’t have to come in as much, while at the same time acknowledging that they needed to get back to the office because the were going crazy at home. Emotions are high, feelings are mixed.

    A couple months ago I had told my doctor how I was strangely unaffected by pandemic psychological issues or stress. I think the weirdness of everything just caught up with me, finally. One thing I hope will help is reducing my caffeine intake, which I know makes me more jittery in general and affects my sleep. I have been drinking more coffee and tea to combat a lethargy that seems to want to set in. Sigh.

    Best wishes to all trying to navigate this surreal time.

  6. Betsy says:

    It’s just been slogging along for so long and when I start to think about how almost *NONE* of this had to happen if we had had a competent government and response, I get really worked up. So many dead, so much pain, so much wreckage, so much unnecessary everything.

    • WithTheAmerican says:

      This is what gets me too. And all of the excuses everyone made for Former Guy as he secretly got vaccinated and had the best of all medical care when he got covid, things the rest of us didn’t have access to and thanks to him, neighbors and communities aren’t getting vaccinated so they will continue to spread covid.

      • Betsy says:

        To avoid swearing, I will just say, “yes, that really frosts my cookies, too.”

        They thought they could kill Democrats and minorities with impunity.

    • lucy2 says:

      Right? When we left our office a year ago, I thought it would maybe be a couple of weeks at most. If you’d told me it’d be over a year, mostly likely 18 months as my boss is very cautious, I never would have believed it.

    • Stephanie says:

      I feel like this is the thing getting to me too – I’m pretty good about WFH boundaries and I mostly manage a 40 hour week in standard hours. *AND* I still feel like a wreck, constantly up and down. When I reflect on it, all of the failures of leadership we’ve experienced directly or indirectly burns me up!

  7. Noodle says:

    I am glad i am not alone in this. I am trying to focus on being grateful for having a job, but it’s hard for me to maintain gratitude while I feel like everything is falling apart around me. My 16 year old daughter is in crisis right now (being in online school for a year has really taken its toll on her emotional and physical health), and I have put off my own struggles to help her. A few close friends begged me to call my doctor to discuss my own struggles as an act of self-care, knowing I can’t continue to keep pushing myself without breaking. A person can take only so much and hold it together for so long.

  8. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    I’ve been feeling the burnout too! We moved over the holidays and dealt with 2 back-to-back disasters – plus dealing with demanding, detailed oriented work with deadlines… it’s a lot. We’ve not had a vacation either. I feel guilty for complaining because I’ve managed to still keep my business going and not lose any staff.

  9. Eleonor says:

    I don’t know if it’s appropriate, but how is your libido celebitchers?
    Because mine, and my partner, is dead, nowhere to be found, nothing, nada, nicht, rien de rien, niente, it’s been like this for a month, or maybe more.

    • Chris says:

      That’s a symptom of depression.

      • JayNay says:

        all of the things mentioned in the article are symptoms of depression. exhaustion, emotional numbness, fatigue, brain fog… it’s collectively hitting us.

    • Jo73c says:

      is it possible to go into negative libido?

    • TaraBest says:

      I haven’t thought about this before, but at the beginning of lockdown I got to spend a lot of extra time with my partner as we no longer had to work opposite schedules. Things were great then, but the last month or so I’ve felt the same as you. I’ve chalked it up to just being tired in every aspect of my life right now.

  10. O says:

    I feel all this too, but I am teaching in person and my province has said teachers are essential workers without vaccine priority. Teaching is really tough right now, online or in person and I’ve had a few anxiety attacks at work. Everyone is feeling it and the pressure to do more, add more things and keep up the same workload as pre-pandemic are overwhelming. I’m certainly lucky to keep teaching music right now but I’ve had to completely re-work my curriculum with zero provincial guidance.

    This also is a feeling our kids have, in school or at home learning. It’s so tough on everyone and I’m trying to focus on being a supportive adult who brings some joy into the classroom rather than push curriculum.

  11. Case says:

    I’ve worked from home for almost four years now. It’s definitely not the working from home aspect in itself that is exhausting, IMO, because it was always fine for me pre-pandemic — it’s literally everything else. For a lot of people, working from home is a luxury — you’re in comfortable clothes, maybe get to be around your pets or family, have flexibility if you need to run to the store at lunchtime or need a repair at home in the middle of the day, and you don’t have to worry about the stress of commuting.

    But doing this all the time and never getting out of the house is exhausting. Never having something to look forward to and feeling like very weekend is the same is exhausting. Not having time to just socialize for fun with coworkers or talk about anything other than how worried, tired, and sad people are is exhausting. Needing to be super intentional with self-care and entertaining yourself/your family is exhausting. Seeing light at the end of the tunnel and then realizing reopening means more f’ing mass shootings again is exhausting. I’m a really positive person and I’ve mostly been fine during this year. I’m an introvert and I’ve found ways to make this all work for me — I exercise more, read more, watch more movies, and I’m generally having a good time in my own company. And I’m STILL exhausted.

    If your job allows, please take your full lunch break and stop when the work day is over. Get out and try to enjoy some of the spring/summer weather. Seriously. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean work is now part of your home life, and I’m so sorry if companies are taking advantage of you by trying to pressure you into working harder, when WFH should be an opportunity to work smarter.

    • lucy2 says:

      I’m very similar – introvert, love alone time, and there are aspects of being home that I enjoy. I do miss being around my coworkers occasionally, but most of all I miss being able to walk out the door of the office and leave work behind at the end of the day. It absolutely has become part of my home life, and when I do take an evening or a weekend off, I have a nagging voice in my head saying “you should be doing this or that” work stuff.

      I have a few things planned once I’m fully vaccinated and the weather is good, so I’m hoping having things to look forward to helps, and those will be days when I’m out and not surrounded by work.

  12. Darla says:

    The professional workers I know are fighting tooth and nail not to return to the office. So this is interesting. I have worked from home for years now, and I know the toll it takes. There is no shut off time for me because I’m self-employed. So I get it. I just find this such a jarring difference from what I hear from those whose companies (finance) are making noises about a return. They are literally strategizing how to put it off as long as possible.

  13. Abby says:

    Yeah I agree with all of this.

    In my experience, this is my 10th year as a freelancer working from home. But last year I went from being extremely busy with work; to simultaneously homeschooling full time during the shut down, to losing the majority of my work contracts within a two-month span. I was working at max capacity already and had been the breadwinner for 3 years. I was headed toward burnout anyway. But lack of work time (due to my kids being home round the clock and needing my help with school), overwhelm, the loss of social structures that I enjoyed—all contributed to very real burnout. I’m lucky my husband’s real estate work picked up at the same time I lost all of mine. My income was 46% less last year, and we accrued more credit card debt than we are comfortable with. The magazine world in my specific niche took a nosedive last year. I truly had no idea if it would recover enough for me to make a living, and I because pursuing other careers in writing. But I really needed that break from work; even though financially we couldn’t afford it. I didn’t have the bandwidth to hustle for new work; my brain just couldn’t do it.

    By the winter, my work began picking up with assignments from different magazines. By the spring, I have more work than a year ago (that doesn’t pay quite at much). I’m vaccinated now too. BUT I feel much less emotionally stable. When small things like random virtual schooling days or when we lost all power with the Texas snowstorm happen, when they lifted mask mandates and I thought I’d have to start homeschooling again – I’m much less able to roll with the punches. I recognize that right now I have too much work on my plate, but I’ve spent a year taking every single assignment that came my way in an effort to pay the bills. I have a hard time saying no because my work feels precarious still. I feel like I’m headed for burnout again.

    I’m trying to keep up with my exercise routine and some self care and a FEW small social things to stave off the burnout. But it’s hard. And like I said, I’ve worked from home for a decade. For myself, not a job where I could get fired from. So I feel sympathy for the workforce struggling to adjust. I don’t know what the solution is, but overwork during a pandemic is not it.

    • Darla says:

      I relate very much. I don’t know the answer either. Some vacation time, real vacation time, has to play a role though. I am making room for that this year.

  14. GrnieWnie says:

    Well I happen to be on the other side of major burnout that began pre-pandemic (v. weird to see the world catching up with me). I would say it has taken me let’s see…18 months of nothing to find some motivation again. My career has definitely tanked. Oh well.

    • Yeahwhat says:

      I am in a similar situation but got made redundant before the pandemic hit. That stress and feeling crappy in my job prior, then the pandemic made me hit pause on getting a new job. Very greatful for the break as I was emotionally burnt out and this manifested physically as well. It made me realise that it takes time for the body to recover from stress and I needed to be kinder to myself. There will always be jobs out there.

  15. Merricat says:

    Spend some time in nature, if you can. When one day bleeds into the next and they all start to look the same, it’s past time for a break. I hit a wall a couple of weeks ago. No motivation.

    • Meg says:

      Yes bird feeders at my window next to my work desk at home helps

    • ShazBot says:

      I had to make my New Year’s resolution to go for a walk every day because I realized I’d hit a point where I didn’t go outside for like 5 days in a row. Even if it’s just a short walk around the block, I do it every day and it does make a difference.

  16. Cee says:

    I’m tired all the time, even when I sleep 7+ hours a night. I can’t focus, I have 1 FT job and 2 freelance jobs, and I want to cry most of the time. I’ve gained weight so nothing fits, the economy is going down the drain, I won’t get the vaccine for at least 1 year. and I just want this to end.

  17. Alissa says:

    I’ve been mostly in person except for a handful of days since things started, as the sole HR person at my work. we did a bunch of layoffs last spring, employee morale is in the shitter no matter what we do, and it’s a slog to work a job I used to really enjoy. plus we had to quarantine with my stepson for the last 10 days because his mom and stepdad got it, and now his stepdad is in the hospital. I’m TIRED.

    I’ve had two breakdowns recently, one of which lasted a little over a week and I was the most depressed my husband has every seen me. I suffer from chronic depression and we’ve been together for a decade.

    basically we all need two weeks to shut everything down just so we can relax a little.

    • Case says:

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with that, Alissa. I agree that we all need two weeks to shut everything down. I can take some vacation time whenever (and have tried to take long weekends here and there, and a full week last summer just to spend time at home doing projects around the house), but I wish everything would just so quiet so we could find some true rest. That would be so nice.

  18. Eleonora says:

    Now would be the time for healthy companies to hire.

    Some have benefitted from Corona and they have more opportunities getting good people.
    It would also help take some burden of the employees that are already there.

  19. souperkay says:

    It is so much harder for me to get simple things done. Everything feels like a Herculean effort right now. I am exhausted doing less work because it feels endless. I am getting vaccinated this week, shot one, so I will be fully vaccinated mid-May. It feels years away.

  20. GingerSnap says:

    So, I live and work in Oklahoma where the pandemic is sort of largely hand-waved away. When it first started and people weren’t taking it seriously, I quit my bartending job and got a different job as a receptionist at a counseling center that had higher standards and did like Zoom-only sessions for the time being. After several months, that stopped being financially feasible and I went back to serving and bartending. I have kids at home that need financial support. I have a family and a shopping addiction and I feel terrible for engaging in the problem but… it was the only decision I could make, flawed as it was.

    And it is so so so so hard. Serving and running and working my ass off in a job that requires facial cues to sort of “charm” my guests in masks that are corporate and branded and heavy and not breathable… and right now it is worse than ever. Everyone has gotten their stimulus money and decided they can do without a job and we are so short-staffed and I work so much I have no time to get new shoes despite my current ones losing their soles because I wake up in darkness and walk out the door in darkness and I took the trash out yesterday and sort of stood out in the sun and shuddered and breathe because I forget what outside feels like it’s always just this restaurant and people are so rude and it all stems back to this situation. We go from extremely limited capacity to to-go only to fully open due to COVID and it is so incredibly difficult. There are so many times I silently cry and thank god for masks because at least the guests can’t see my lips quivering but GOD I NEED OXYGEN. This year has been so so hard. For many others in many more difficult ways than myself. Sending out love. My feet look like talons from working so much. I want new shoes. I want to breathe. I want to wear makeup and feel pretty and have someone see it without a mask.

    We will get through this. I believe in humanity and I believe in us. It’s just hard some days.

    • Size Does Matter says:

      Hey there. I just wanted you to know I read your post and I feel for you. It doesn’t seem like it right now, but this too shall pass.

  21. Sadie says:

    Same here. I work as an event planner and am lucky to have a job. I immediately transitioned into planning virtual events for my employer as much of our profit is due to our events. It was quite stressful for me. Working from home, I feel healthier physically due to daily walks with my dog, less running around/no travel and eating good foods at home. I also coincidentally quit drinking 1/1/20. But I just have a heaviness. My partner has had some health challenges and mom has had some mental challenges which has added a lot to the stress recently. And I know I generally have it good. I just got my one-dose vaccine and Spring coming is helping.

  22. Charfromdarock says:

    “here’s the sense that now is not the time to complain about having a job. “

    I’m feeling burnt out too but I feel guilty for finding this so hard when I’m one of the lucky one who has a secure job working from home.

    I feel so overwhelmed all the time. I struggle to get through work. I struggle after work as a caretaker. I get up from my desk at the end of the day, take 10 steps and it’s another type of work.

    And then I think about my brother who lost his job of 25 years and I feel like I’m being selfish for feeling this way.

    • Joanna says:

      You’re not being selfish to feel that way. I’ve had a job this whole time but I feel tired sometimes. Tired of wearing a mask, tired of worrying I will get COVID from a customer, wishing I didn’t have to go into work. Then I feel guilty because I’ve had a job this whole time and I’m complaining. It’s ok though to vent

  23. teehee says:

    I’ve been working remotely since 2014, and it is something you have to learn. You have to draw your boundaries for yourself and pace yourself and organize yourself differently than if you were in a large office a drive away.
    I’m rather introverted and social interaction can be more tiring for me than work, so it fits.
    But it takes time to find your space, both mentally and physically.

    • Meg says:

      Im an introvert too & am in no rush to head back to the office.
      i haven’t had tons of success with college roommates, coworkers, classmates etc.- essentially people i can’t choose whether or not to be around so i cant avoid toxic people-so working from home is ideal for me

  24. paranormalgirl says:

    It’s so emotionally consuming. On the one hand, you’re happy to have employment when so many don’t, but then there’s that guilt that you ARE employed when so many aren’t. And then you feel like you shouldn’t complain because you are employed…. and so many are not. But no one should nullify their experience. Yes, you are working, but that doesn’t mean that your life is stress free. If you are used to being in an office with regular breaks, friendships, social moments, etc., and that is taken away from you, it is a loss and needs to be treated as such.

  25. Chris says:

    I think it’s a perfect storm of stressors. We’re not just working from home, we’re socializing from home, isolated from family, don’t have the ability to really go anywhere and under this constant unaddressed cultural grief that will hit us at some point. We can’t avoid it forever. I’m sure I’m not alone in that it feels like there’s no boundary to work and home anymore, I snapped at a coworker who texted me after hours about work. I’ve taken on more workload with no hopes of a raise soon because of budgetary freezes. I’m lucky in that I have a lovely boss. That’s a saving grace. I had to take today off just so I could have a break. I could feel myself hitting a wall. I’m sure so many are in the same boat.

  26. Neners says:

    For me, it’s not working from home but sheer workload. Interest rates are in the basement so anyone who can get a mortgage is trying to get a mortgage. It’s absolutely exhausting, whether I’m at home or in an office.

    • Meg says:

      Ive been saving for a home and right now homes are being bought in my area sight unseen with cash from people relocating from the coasts

  27. insertpunhere says:

    I started my day by googling, “What are the symptoms of a nervous breakdown?” so that pretty well sums up where I’m at.

    I’m a social worker, so I’m essential, and I’ve worked a hybrid schedule with some at home days and some in-office/in the field. I’m at the end of my rope. We can’t keep staff because of pandemic related burnout, I’m having heart palpitations multiple times a day because I start thinking about Court dates and how I’m going to get yelled at by the Judge for something (because there’s always something), and by the time I’m done working every day, all I have the energy for is nothing. I find myself on the couch, staring at the ceiling, unable to force myself to move.

    I’m half vaccinated now, and I initially got a boost from that, but now I’m just feeling hopeless and helpless and like things are never going to get better. My doctor increased my antidepressants/anti-anxiety meds, and that helped for a while, but I’m right back in this pit where I just feel nothing but numb coupled with physical anxiety symptoms.

    • paranormalgirl says:

      I was hoping to transition into family medicine (I did residencies in both family and psychiatry) and work in a small clinic, but because of the pandemic, I have maintained my psychiatric practice and have been seeing patients via tele-med. I feel like I can’t hand off my patients during this time of unease and distress, but I’m missing out on something I had planned for the summer of 2000. So yeah, I get it. I feel like I’m never going to move on to the next stage in my life, as a semi retired Island doctor. It’s all so up in the air.

    • Robin says:

      I am so sorry to here this, insertpunhere. I had my first vaccine a few weeks back and felt upbeat, like you did. I am trying to hold onto that feeling because the UK is caught up in riots and anti covid marches, and watching these idiots is maddening. I have family working in the court system, too. They’ve had to carry on as key workers and are feeling burnt out. I always remember a friend saying to me, if you can get this day through, you’ve got something done. Not the happiest thought but it got me through a very bad patch some years ago, which is actually when I started reading this site. x

  28. psl says:

    Since there have been two mass shootings in the two weeks things have been opening, I actually would like lockdown to get stricter again. Between that, and the reckless people who consider this “over” and going on vacations…….I am tired of being frustrated with people.

    But that will never go away, unfortunately.

    • Robin says:

      The frustration is here to stay, psl. I’m with you in finding it hard. I just can’t listen to people we know who are telling us they’re booking this and that and working towards great big parties. Have they learned nothing?

  29. Jack says:

    I started working from home full time last March. Prior to that, I worked from home 1 day a week and I love working from home. I’m a workaholic, so always put in too many hours (16 hour days) and was massively burned out the past three years. The one day a week kept me from having to spend 3 hours in the car on my commute and I also did errands and lunches when I worked at home. I was laid off in June and have loved having the break as I desperately needed it.

    I’m not looking forward to going back to work, but I know I need to because I know it’s not good for me to be isolated. I’m getting too used to it and have to force my self to visit with friends. The stress now is that I’ve only had two interviews in 9 months and am worried about when I’ll find a job. I’m also worried about my daughter. She turns 18 in a couple of months and she needs to be with friends her age and get a part time job. She just wants to stay in her room and talk on her cell phone to people. That’s not healthy and I keep forcing her to go out and call friends.

  30. Robin says:

    I’m finding it difficult because both our neighbours are working from home when they used to be out. They are not nice, particularly one of them, and I can just feel them through the wall, if that makes sense. Being inside all this time and just knowing they are there has been difficult, and I can’t see them going back.

  31. Anna says:

    Feeling very similar to what others have stated. I teach in higher-ed and luckily (not luck, hard work for many, many years, slowly inching my way up) I was able to work from home. My migraines stopped as soon as I didn’t have to be on the PWI campus around people who cause me extreme stress. But I had already been working 80-100 hr/week (for a job that pays me for 27 hours/week if I’m lucky) for *years*. To the point of heart problems and prediabetes. I had to do it. It was my option to finally get health insurance and some stability (now tenuous). I have been working more hours than before, if that is even possible!, and while I’m glad to work from home (as an artist and freelance designer also I’m used to it), it’s the not being able to leave that is most taxing. My anxiety is through the roof from the non-maskers all over the place in this high-risk area, and it was causing such stress that I’ve now become basically a shut-in. I’m starting to realize that this may never end, really. My social skills are zero and I’m having trouble imagining the future…

  32. hc60 says:

    I own my own tutoring practice business, and expanded to hire.a team of employees during COVID. Which has been wonderful as I can say “yes” to more families looking for educational support. And we’re 100% online due to COVID. But I’m teaching 6 + hours a day plus running a 50 plus family educational practice with no admin support and it’s exhausting.

    At this point I’m just surviving until we close for the year mid-June. Beginning with our summer session I plan on slashing my teaching schedule in half as this business needs someone to run it. The stress of maintaining my high standards is wearing me out. And my 5th grader and 7th grader are struggling with remote schooling, but are at least old enough to be reasonably sufficient. I couldn’t imagine if they were younger.

    It’s all so hard. I’m finding relief in reading others’ stories and realizing I’m not alone.

  33. Christin says:

    My WFH was very short lived, then it was back to the office and the co-workers who will not wear masks.

    I think it was a combination of stress from rising cases plus being around cavalier non-maskers that caused a near-breakdown last fall.

    During my time off at Christmas, I had to reset myself by focusing on what I could control. I can continue limiting exposure outside of work, and firmly stick to my own physical distancing and masking. I further reduced my social media and news reading. I’m still feeling lazy inside the house, though. I go to bed early, as more sleep supposedly helps the immune system.

    I’ve given up on predicting what will happen with the virus. Original thoughts were that we’d be into the thick of it through this year, and we’d have to ease back into some semblance of normal. I plan to mask and social distance for a very long time, regardless.

  34. Leah says:

    I think a lot of it has to do with the type of personalities people have.

    I’m an introvert and I’ve found that I prefer working from home because too much drama overloads me. I don’t miss the office with the high school drama, brown nosing and backstabbing. Always being worried about saying something that will be taken the wrong way and trying not to be drawn into gossip. Now my two cats are my co- workers and all they care about is food, treats, a clean littler box and a snuggle. They don’t gossip and they don’t run to the boss trying to verbally shank you. Actually my boss is a cat person and she enjoys seeing them in the background when we are in a video conference.

    With my company they’ve discovered who is really doing the work and who isn’t. Quite a few people have been pink slipped for not completing projects when in the office they would have handed most of the work off to others. Now, everyone completes their piece of the pie and that’s that.

    I find that getting out once in a while helps, even if it’s a trip to the store. I’ve had the first half of the vaccine so my confidence is growing a little but I’m still not going out without a mask.

  35. OriginalLala says:

    totally burnt out here too – I developed pretty bad health anxiety since the pandemic started, I’m totally unmotivated most days and can barely get my (huge amount of) work done… I just want to wake up when this is all over….

  36. 2lazy4username says:

    I was already working remotely pre-Covid, so this is nothing new. I think what makes it more difficult and contributes to the burnout for many (including myself) is the overall isolation Covid has imposed. No drinks and dinners with friends, no travel for work, no social events, no dressing up cute for meetings…. the list goes on and on. And the impact is not just on us working people, but to our poor kids, who have missed out on countless developmentally necessary social milestones. And for those of us who have to support those kids when our own tanks are depleted, there is the guilt of not being able to make it all okay — because we aren’t, either.

  37. SilverPoodle says:

    I can SO relate to this. I have been working from home for a global financial service company for 15 years now. My work hours often depend on the project I am working on because I’ve got people in multiple time zones (Asia, UK, Europe, Latin America and the US). There have been short periods of time where I worked 16 hour days, but it was only a month or two.

    This past year has been SO unbelievably intense, every single day. Everyone is home and willing to work all hours of the day/night. I have been feeling at my breaking point over the past week, not sleeping well or eating well. So, I am taking next week off (I stopped accruing vacation months ago). I am going to sleep. If I were vaccinated I might go somewhere, but that won’t happen until mid-April (I hope!).

    I am really hoping things calm down a bit when people start going back to the offices, but most of our offices are still completely shut down (except for some of our Asia offices). No immediate plans to open. Not sure how I’m going to manage…

  38. RN says:

    I’m a nurse and my workload (which was already impossible to begin with) has become beyond my ability to handle. I’m grinding my teeth, I have headaches so bad that I’m close to vomiting, I only sleep in hourly increments, and I’ve stopped talking to most people. I never had the opportunity to work from home. I remember everyone posting on FB about the Tiger King and making sourdough bread; that was never my reality. Now I have to deal with jag offs who believe the vaccine will change their DNA. To say that I’ve lost respect for the human race, but especially Americans, is a severe understatement.

    • Joanna says:

      thank you for everything that you do! It’s so aggravating to hear that stupid bs about the COVID vaccines

  39. Miss Margo says:

    I’ve basically had a near constant headache since July, and last Wednesday was a full on migraine. Had to go to the er because it was still there Saturday. Trying to manage full time work, homeschooling the kids in virtual school, housework, parenting in general, and having absolutely nothing to do because everything is in lockdown in my city. There is no joy. There is no fun. There is nothing to look forward to. My body is just done.

  40. HK9 says:

    Just left my old job because my boss was becoming abusive. I’m two days into my new job and I’m in heaven. I found a job that has parameters and I’m not required to be “on” 24/7. My old boss demanded for work from me would spoil weekends/holidays, and days off. I couldn’t sleep and would have major anxiety when his email showed up in my inbox. I realized I had to chose myself and go.

  41. Mina_Esq says:

    Thank you so much for covering this. I was annoyed by the comments on Globe and Mail’s tweet. Some people are acting like it’s the hardship Olympics, and just because they’ve had it bad in losing their jobs somehow makes my own hardship trivial simply because I still have a job and get paid. It has been really tough.

  42. Nadia says:

    I’ve been working from home for the past year too. For me it was less hours of work in total, but boy, did it feel like double the time. Working on a computer all day (when you’re not accustomed to) is quite tiresome and not being able to do ANY other activity to unwind at the end of the day is frustrating. During the first lockdown I was ashamed of complaining because “hey, at least you still have your job, you can pay your bills”, but at this point I feel that it’s taken a huge toll on my mental health. I’ve resorted to coping mechanisms that take me back (mentally) to a time when I was a teenager, doing stuff that helped me relax back then (reading the books I used to read, writing stories similar to the ones I once did, etc).

  43. Sigmund says:

    Funnily enough, I was JUST talking about this with my therapist. She said it’s a pretty common issue right now.

    I originally felt like I was saving time by working from home, as I didn’t have to commute and could be “done” earlier. But slowly, things have crept in on me—my work furloughed people and never replaced them, so I’m doing the job of other people with no pay increase, plus I have older, less tech-savvy coworkers asking me to call them and walk them through their tech issues. (I’ve been trying to brush off those requests, even though I feel bad, because I’m way too busy to play tech support.) Lastly, I haven’t taken a real vacation in ages, because we don’t want to travel anywhere during this pandemic. So it feels like all I do is work and sleep. I’m definitely going to work on setting some boundaries for my own mental health. If I don’t, I worry that I’m going to something reckless like quit my job.