In May 2019, the World Health Organization included workplace burnout in its International Classification of Diseases diagnostic tool as an occupational phenomenon. This syndrome, brought on by chronic work-related stress, was concerning enough then. Flash forward a year and add a pandemic, and we have a situation that is massively disruptive, to say the very least.
We have to consider the effect on those in the marketing and advertising industries, for strategy and creative teams racing to adjust media plans, for those thinking about rebranding while simultaneously adapting to working from home, for those worried about the budget cuts and downsizing that threaten their careers.
We’re living in extreme times, frantic and at a standstill all at once. Self-care, that much batted-about term, has evolved from a euphemism for a spa day into a survival skillset. Here are some suggestions to build resilience in the new normal:
Creative burnout? Creative solution
That sounds like an oxymoron, but in fact it’s a pivot in engagement. According to a review published in the NCBI, creative arts therapies (CATs), which are nonverbal artistic activities such as making music, dance or movement and hands-on art projects, act as a jumper cable for self-efficacy, coping abilities, creative function and empowerment. For creatives who are blocked and exhausted, switching off media and screens, begging off a Zoom happy hour and spending time immersed in a non-job-related, expressive outlet is a therapeutic and effective way to reconnect and restore a much-needed emotional balance.
If there was ever a time to start a mindfulness practice, it’s now. According to the National Institutes of Health, mind and body practices that elicit a relaxation response have proven beneficial to immune regulatory pathways and glucose metabolism, components that are heavily affected by stress. Begin with a few minutes a day and build on that.
Reinforce your resting routine
Maybe you’re experiencing a sudden shift to working from home, away from your team, in isolation or in a house that’s bustling 24/7. Perhaps you’re accustomed to working remotely but the nature and volume of your work have changed drastically. Either way, it’s easy for your sleep routine to fall by the wayside.
The Lancet Psychiatry published a study that found disruption of sleep and circadian rhythms to be a major factor in existing mood and cognitive function disorders that can increase susceptibility to developing them. Make an effort to go to bed and get up at the same times. Even if you can’t sleep at first, resting in the dark with music or soothing noise will help regulate your internal clock.