Burnout During COVID-19 Is Real: 3 "Micro-Moments" That Can Help
There's a lot that's changed in the face of COVID-19—routines, schedules, and social events have all taken a hit. But burnout, as much as we may pray for it to ebb, isn't going anywhere. Burnout is ever-present, especially during the global pandemic. If you're fortunate enough to work from home, you may feel a pit in your stomach that you can always do more, and you may feel a hitch of anxiety after deciding to sign off for the day.
Even without the hustle and bustle of a crowded commute and back-to-back office meetings, mental burnout is still a thing. What's more, many of the ways we used to combat that burnout might not be available to us at the moment (such as taking a long walk outside or meeting up with friends to blow off some steam).
However, reiki master Kelsey Patel says it's possible to evade burnout, even amid the coronavirus. "It's about creating micro-changes in the macro shift of your life," she tells me on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast. To make these changes, here are three easy "micro-moments" that can help you feel more centered and self-aware. Spoiler: Each of these micro-moments takes no more than five minutes!
1. Find moments of stillness.
Especially if you identify as an introvert, finding moments of stillness can help you feel more at ease. After all, if you're an introvert and "you have a lot of interactions with people, it can put your body into stress mode," Patel explains. (And yes, virtual interactions can have the same effect, she says.)
The key here is to check in with yourself. Do you need a few quiet minutes in the afternoon to rest and recharge? Here's where the micro-moment comes into play: Patel suggests "finding down moments throughout the day, even if it's taking a break from work and taking conscious breaths." Just a couple of minutes can work wonders.
2. Find moments of engagement.
For the extroverts out there, perhaps you'll crave that social interaction. Even if you typically enjoy your alone time, some days you might ache for some sort of engagement (there are no hard-and-fast rules for these micro-moments; do whatever feels right for you!).
"I have to do everything that works for me to give my mind and body permission to unwind from the day," Patel explains. "Some days it's lying on the couch watching Netflix, and other days it's interacting with my girlfriends and talking." In other words, focus on what you're needing most in that moment, and run with it.
Reiki, according to Patel, is another way we can find engagement. "Reiki is a feeling of belonging and connection, that energy of being so loved," she explains. Even just two minutes of breath and connection to your energy source can help you "walk through the world with a sense of faith." So even if you aren't technically interacting with others, being part of a reiki community can have a similar effect on the psyche.
3. Start a hand-washing ritual (yes, really).
Sure, washing your hands regularly is imperative for your physical health, especially during COVID-19. But, Patel explains, the process can be just as beneficial for your "energetic health" as well.
Think about taking a bathroom break throughout the day: You don't necessarily schedule those into your busy schedule—they just, you know, happen. You don't even think about it, but you're essentially listening to your body's physical cues that it needs release. The same can be said for your energy, Patel notes.
"It's the same as thinking mentally you need a little break," she explains. "It's as simple as a hand-washing ritual, not just washing your hands in that moment physically but also energetically." Really focus on giving yourself those energetic breaks during the day; take a moment to breathe, visualizing your energy replenish as you let the water run over your hands.
Even if you're a stickler for to-do lists, you can still create your meticulous schedules while listening to what your body needs. Rather than penciling in some downtime (which can feel like just another chore, says Patel), become attuned to what your body's natural reflexes are. You can feel exactly when your body needs a second to stretch—try to do the same for your mental energy.
Even if it doesn't feel perfect the first few times, discovering what helps you unwind is an important skill to master; after all, alleviating burnout can not only support your mental health but can help you better support those around you.
"We're all mirrors to each other," Patel adds. "If you are willing to do these little micro-acts for yourself every day, you can go out in the world and actually lend a hand to someone." Think about it: Aren't you in a better place to help others if you have your own peace of mind?