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An unexpected side-effect of the pandemic? An epidemic of burnout

Canadian workers are feeling stressed and are at risk of burning out. Those are the finding of several recent surveys of how the global pandemic has been impacting the way we work in 2021.

Many Canadian participants say that they are worn out and ready to make up for lost vacation time, new research from Robert Half found. This study found that more than 4 in 10 professionals surveyed (43 per cent) said they are more burned out on the job today than they were year ago. In a similar poll in 2020, 33 per cent said that they were feeling burned out.

A separate international study of over 31,000 workers suggests that digital overload is a real and growing problem. In Canada specifically, 47 per cent of workers said that they are feeling exhausted during a typical workday. This is well above the 39 per cent global average.

This country’s stress levels are also higher than the global average, with more than 50 per cent of Canadian workers reporting feeling stressed about their jobs.

The team at Robert Half attributes these increased levels of stress and burnout to the effects of COVID-19. “For the past 14 months, many professionals have dealt with increased workloads, longer hours, minimal vacation time, and juggling personal and professional responsibilities,” said David King of Robert Half. “With burnout clearly on the rise, now is the time for organizations to encourage their employees to prioritize mental health and well-being, including taking time off this summer to rest and recharge.”

Working from home means that people have the office just around the corner all day, every day. When you add to this the fact that many people find themselves online or on their phones nearly 24/7, the separation of work and life has become increasingly difficult.

One of the top causes of the increased stress levels for Canadian workers is this decline in work / life balance. Another is the increased workload that many have taken on over the past year and a half. Nearly half of employees surveyed (42 per cent) say that they now have a heavier workload than they did pre-pandemic.

To make matters worse, one in five workers surveyed said that they forfeited taking their paid time off in 2020.

So, what’s the fix? Almost half of us (43 per cent) plan to take more than three weeks of vacation time this year to make up for the added workload and stress. Fifty per cent are ready for an real vacation that involves travel and completely disconnecting from work.

Another 43 per cent say that they prefer a staycation, taking time off work but staying close to home.

Another strategy for helping maintain work/life balance – and your sanity – when working from home is to set your work hours, or the tasks you need to accomplish clearly at the beginning of the day. Once you have accomplished those goals or put in those hours, sign off from work and turn your phone off.

Going the extra mile for your job is one thing, but you’re no good to anyone if you are exhausted, stressed, and burnt out all of the time. You need to take care of yourself.

Here are six ways to destress when it gets to be too much.

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