Screen time burn out
Fatigue & burnout is a real factor that has become an ever increasing problem with the events over the last year. I was surprised to find that it was a significant concern BEFORE 2019...
One study in 2017 of 70 office workers found a significant correlation (p<0.05) between occupational burnout and musculoskeletal disorders, and with this obvious relationship, recommends managers of organizations be required to plan programmes to improve work conditions to reduce stress, modify working instrument (equipment) and train ergonomic principles for working. (ROSA and burnout - Asian Journal of Environment and Pollution)
In 2016, an IT Staffing firm 'Robert Half Technology' surveyed 2500 technology professionals, and found that 81% believed the amount of pressure was higher than it was 5 years ago. Of those surveyed, 46% reported their job to be either 'stressful or very stressful' and 18% saying their job was more stressful (in 2016) than the previous year. The article estimated at least 10% of workforce turnover to be related to employee burnout.
Several other studies were reviewed with similar conclusions, dating back to 2000. With the recent pandemic and billions of people forced to work from home remotely, isolated from coworkers and trying to separate work and life, being productive in an environment that was once reserved for rest, relaxation and family time exclusively, these rates can only be significantly higher, exacerbating these problems. Knowing that burnout can lead to poor performance, lack of connection between workers, musculoskeletal disorders and higher employee turnover, taking all precautions to prevent this should be top of mind for employers, and for individuals in these positions.
Some recommendations to avoid burnout included:
- Don't Respond right away! By constantly allowing other people's sense of urgency to take over your tasks, your work time and thoughts, you allow overwhelm and anxiety to set in. Your own needs get pushed to the back burner. Try to set aside certain times of day to reply to emails, texts and other messages
- Leave work at work. This may be easier said than done with the new work from home world, but if you can shut down and separate the work from you home life, you will have a much more relaxing time away from business hours. Try putting your phone away during dinner, when you are with the family, when taking a walk or watching a movie with your spouse. DO NOT check work messages before going to bed. Relax and get to sleep! It will be there in the morning.
- Face to face, not screen to screen! Staying in touch with friends and family is important anyway you do it, but being face to face is NOT the same as on the phone, text or screen. Even hearing a voice is more connection that a digital message. When you can and when it's safe, go for walk with a friend, visit outside from a distance, or even with a mask. The physical presence and energy of another human who you have a healthy relationship and connection with does wonders for your mental health.
- Use your vacation time! Work ethic is important, but so is rest and recovery. Taking the breaks that are allotted to you is healthy, and your company has budgeted that into your wages. Make use of what you have earned and deserve to recharge yourself!
- Set realistic goals - during stressful times, setting 'stretch' goals is pushing towards burnout, and away from taking care of yourself and your well being.
- Find the good in others. By recognizing and acknowledging others, you are sending positive energy into the world, especially amongst your coworkers. Even from a distance, these people are still in your environment, so take care of them, and notice how different you begin to feel about those connections.
7. Try tapping! The method of self connection with emotions called 'emotional freedom tapping' or EFT has become very popular over the last few years. By repeating the feelings and frustrations you are aware of while tapping areas of the body, especially around the eyes can help relieve stress, and studies have shown it releases cortisol. Gently tap with your fingers around your eyes and notice how you feel.
- Here's an informative website to learn the full technique quickly;
- Bagheri, Somayeh and GHaljahi, Maryam. ‘Ergonomic Evaluation of Musculoskeletal Disorders with Rapid Office Strain Assessment and Its Association with Occupational Burnout Among Computer Users at Zabol University of Medical Sciences in 2017’. 1 Jan. 2019 : 91 – 96.