As agencies continue to adapt to the remote work reality brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, a common industry issue is starting to creep up once again: burnout. Work and personal life are blending more than ever, and employees are feeling the demand to continue to perform at the highest level without natural breaks in the day.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can have detrimental effects on our mental health, productivity, and overall wellbeing. It’s caused by prolonged stress and can grow to interfere with our professional and personal lives.

Unfortunately, workplace burnout is extremely common and especially relevant in the wake of COVID-19. found 43% of respondents experienced burnout pre-COVID with 53% experiencing it after quarantine.

So how can you avoid falling victim to burnout? We asked our employees about their favorite forms of self-care and here’s their advice:

1. Exercise

“Taking a long walk while listening to music (preferably with the dog), clears my head, and generally makes me more productive.”

 “I used to enjoy a good run, but my runs have turned into slow walks these days. I have a dirt trail and a creek by my house and my go-to playlist is Summer Hits of the 2000s.”

“You haven’t felt pain until you’ve done your first Pure Barre session. However, it gets easier and is a great way to look after your core.”

Although it’s easy to assume relaxing means avoiding physical activity, studies show exercise is a great way to relax. Exercise reduces stress hormones and helps us produce more chemicals that make us happy, like endorphins and dopamine. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise, either—a short walk can go a long way in reducing stress. A lot of us at Brunner enjoy walking and other exercises as a form of stress relief.

2. Practice Mindfulness

“There’s a good free guided meditation app called Insight Timer that I listen to every night before bed.”

“Headspace guided meditation!! Two series are now available for free on Netflix if you aren’t into paying for the app. Get you some Zen, everybody, it’s so helpful.”

Breathing exercises and meditation can also help reduce stress. Controlled deep breathes reduces the physical symptoms of stress, including fast heart rate and rapid breathing. Breathing exercises go hand in hand with a relaxation technique called mindfulness that reduces stress by bringing attention away from anxious thoughts and into the present moment. Many companies including Nike, Google, and Apple encourage their employees to practice mindfulness as a way of increasing their productivity. Our employees practice mindfulness with the help of mobile apps such as Insight Timer, Headspace, and Calm.

And if you’re not into apps or don’t have much time to spare, here’s a quick mindfulness exercise you can try at work:

  • Take a moment to look around your environment and name:
    • 5 things you see
    • 5 things you hear
    • 5 sensations you feel (These could be any soreness of tension you feel in the body or even materials you feel such as the chair you are sitting in or the texture of your clothes.)
    • Anything you smell
    • Anything you taste

This exercise brings your focus away from spiraling stressful thoughts and back to your current environment.

3. Dive into your favorite hobbies

“My current go-to podcast is “This Podcast will kill you” it’s very relaxing….”

“I light a candle and play video games!”

“I’m a total escapist: Sweat, saltwater, my guitar, and a good book.”

Work can be overwhelming if it’s all you think about, especially after leaving the office. Sometimes a good podcast, playlist, or book is all you need to give your mind a break. Hobbies are also great for relieving stress if you need something more hands-on.

4. Let it Out!

I journal. A lot. And art therapy. I also enjoy walks, sunsets with wine, or eat at a yummy restaurant by myself.

Listening to some good music. (Bonus if I can sing along loudly in the car while no one else is listening).”

A lot of the work we do can take a mental and emotional toll, and it’s so important to release those emotions before they get pent up. Our employees found talking to family or friends, singing to loud music, or journaling about their feelings is helpful in reducing stress.

5. Ask For Help

If you’re experiencing burnout, your employer might have policies or resources that can help you. Here at Brunner, we offer unlimited PTO, flexible work schedules for the office and at home, and summer Fridays. We also offer support through our employee assistance program, Lytle, which includes access to counselors and helpful resources on coping with stress and burnout.

If your current schedule or environment is contributing to burnout, you may be able to work with your employer to make a change. Sometimes a small adjustment in your schedule can relieve a lot of stress.  With burnout on the rise, it’s important for all of us to look after our physical and mental health, whether working through it on our own or by asking for help. Not only will you feel better in the end, but you’ll likely find that it helps your productivity at work.