CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – The coronavirus pandemic has taught Americans how to work from home and many say they’re happy to keep doing it forever. But others find they’re burning out from the stress and long hours and the results can be severe.
As the mother of two young children, Jeanne Stafford thought working from home would be a nice change.
“I was thinking I’d be getting some extra time with them, I would set up upstairs, it would be great,” she said.
But after two weeks of working remotely for a Massachusetts publishing house while juggling her family’s needs, she started to feel the strain.
“A few days I would be fine and working fine and everything would be fine. And then on, say a Friday, I would feel like I couldn’t even deal. Couldn’t get up that day, couldn’t get dressed, couldn’t put a smile on,” she said.
Stafford says she was burnt out, a condition doctors are seeing more than ever among people working from home.
“They feel a sense of hopelessness and they feel a sense of pessimism. It’s almost like this idea, like, it doesn’t matter. Whatever I do, no one’s going to appreciate it,” explained psychiatrist Dr. Sue Varma.
Without a commute to separate home life from the office, it can feel like the work day never ends. Many employees are working harder, with longer hours, to prove their productivity.
“So I think it’s really important to check ourselves to say, I’m writing that extra memo, I’m going the extra mile. Did somebody actually ask me to do that? Or is that something I’ve invented in my own head that I need to do that,” Dr. Varma said.
In a recent survey from Monster.com, more than 50-percent said they’re experiencing burnout while working from home. Health experts are concerned the condition can lead to depression.
“When that starts to bleed over into other aspects of your life, where you stop experiencing pleasure or joy, I want you to start thinking about depression,” Dr. Varma said.
To prevent that, Stafford is trying to put less pressure on herself as both a worker and a mom and to take life’s challenges one day at a time.
Dr. Varma recommends setting boundaries, like defined work hours. Also, clarifying your boss’s expectations, and turning off devices for a break.