Burnout. We’ve all been there. In fact, many of us are there right now. The end of the road. The end of the burning matchstick. Burnout is the feeling one gets when they’ve overworked to the point that doing simple tasks becomes unbearable.
One byproduct of burnout can be a weakened immune system. When you overextend your mind and your body, it becomes so easy for your health to suffer. This is even more common for remote workers who extend themselves beyond their typical work schedule.
When your home becomes your office, it’s understandably easy to not be able to detach, overwork, and ultimately hurt your immune system. So how can remote workers support their immune health and avoid the trap of burnout? It starts with these four tips.
1. Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night
Overworking for too many consecutive days in a row takes a toll on the body. The only way to mitigate the negative impact of overworking is to make sure you secure ample sleep.
According to Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at the National Institute of Health, “sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood.”
The benefits of sleep are endless and impact each and every aspect of our bodies. It’s for this reason that if we can get enough sleep every night, we’ll be able to live healthier lives and maintain the necessary energy to manage our workloads without overdoing it.
These benefits are backed by studies verified by the CDC. According to the CDC, studies show that sleep loss can affect different parts of the immune system. So next time you’re considering whether to sleep five hours or eight hours, go for the latter. The more sleep, the stronger your immune system will be whenever a potential cold or flu lurks nearby.
2. Minimize long meetings
It’s hard enough to focus your attention on a computer screen all day, let alone be in Zoom meetings that sometimes last an hour. One of the risks of having too many long meetings is that you end up spending a lot of time simultaneously talking and focusing. This can increase your chances of burnout and possibly end up with you getting sick.
When you speak a lot in meetings, you may be susceptible to causing pain to your throat or voice. If you end up getting a sore throat, then it’s possible you may develop a cold or a viral infection. As a remote worker, it’s important that you support your immune health by keeping meetings to 30 minutes or less and saving your energy.
The following suggestions can help:
- Limit how many meetings you have back to back (meaning, urgent meetings only)
- Set up breaks in between meetings to relax your voice (to avoid straining)
- Get up and do a quick stretch
- Give your eyes a stretch too! Take a break from looking at your actual screen and instead look elsewhere, even for 15 seconds
- Drink a lot of water
- Don’t strain your throat
3. Set up doctor appointments in advance
When we are busy working all day, it is easy to procrastinate or skip out on scheduling important doctor appointments. Without thinking we can get caught up with work and not really think about our lives outside of work. There are a couple doctor appointments, however, that are crucial when it comes to helping to protect your immune health.
For example, dentist appointments, particularly those that will improve your dental hygiene, are important to prioritize to support your immune system. According to Nottingham Dental, a dental clinic in Katy, TX, “poor oral health often has spillover effects that can adversely affect your overall health.” This is especially true during stressful life events and cold seasons.
Another important point about setting up doctor appointments in advance is until you get to the doctor, you won’t know what other work needs to be done after you get checked out. For example, you might not know you have a cavity until you receive an x-ray at your routine dental cleaning.
It is easy to forget that scheduling general health exams is not just to check off a box but to confirm our bodies are healthy and if further follow-ups are needed. So when checking with a doctor about breast cancer-related questions, for example, you may have to “schedule multiple consultations with different physicians such as oncologists and surgeons,” explains Yale Medicine in their guide on breast cancer and screening.
4. Replace salty and sugary snacks with healthy fruit
As much as snacks seem reliable for powering us through a full day of meetings – they are often not. They can slow us down, hurt us in the long run, and often get in the way of us improving our immune health.
Of their list of “The Top 10 Foods That May Weaken Your Immune System,” Healthline identified foods with added sugars and salty foods as the top two foods. This is a compelling data point because these two ingredients are used in so many snacks. Next time you think about eating that protein bar as a midday snack, make sure to check the nutritional facts first. What is its sugar count? What about its sodium amount?
These are all things to consider when determining which snacks you should and shouldn’t purchase and/or be eating while doing your remote work. Not only will these snacks slow you down – they can also hinder the immune system.
If you’re having trouble finding healthier snacks to substitute for your less healthy snacks, you might want to consider eating more fruit. While they definitely have lots of natural sugars, fruits like oranges, blackberries, grapefruits, and more can give you loads of energy and immune boosters to get through your work day without all the processed and refined ingredients in typical snacks.
The best tip we have is preparation. If you are looking to incorporate more fruits in your diet, the first step is to not only have them on hand, but be ready to eat. This means once you return from the market to wash and cut all your fruit before organizing everything in reusable tupperware or single serving bags. You are then so much closer to grabbing a bag of apple slices versus another granola bar.
Like many things in life, burning out or getting sick may not seem important enough to prioritize over other things at the moment. Don’t wait until you eventually burn out. While some of these tips seem a little monotonous, consistently taking care of your immune health will pay off in the long run when you do not end up behind on work or taking off personal time. Our core recommendation is that you avoid burnout. The best part about not getting sick is that you get to enjoy and make most use of your time.
Do you have any easy tips or daily habits that help you avoid work burnout? Let us know!