When the pandemic began about a little over a year and a half ago, we all suddenly seemed to have a little extra time on our hands.

Those of us who worked in offices were no longer commuting to and from work.

None of us were getting our hair and nails done.

Playdates were cancelled, as were neighbourhood BBQs and sporting events.

We had more time to bake cinnamon rolls and sourdough. More time to workout. More time to finally tackle those bathroom renos.

Those of us who had always worked from home continued on as normal, assuming we were lucky enough to still have work, of course.

So … what was the problem? Why were so many fully-employed, working from home, have-more-time-on-their-hands people suddenly feeling tired, emotionally drained, and… burnt out?

The truth is, all that extra time came with a lot of extra pressure, too.

Pressure to bake perfect bread.

Pressure to lose 10 pounds.

Pressure to learn a new skill.

To grow the business.

To pivot.

To do more. A lot more.

Afterall, everyone on Instagram was doing more.

The truth is, we were struggling. The lack of community. The lack of collaboration. The lack of new faces. It’s a struggle for creatives who thrive on connecting with others to continue plodding away, day in and out, from the same desk.

Emotionally, it’s draining.

And from there, it snowballs. For many of us it turns into depression, and/or anxiety. Or underlying mental health illnesses arise for the first time.

We sleep later, are less productive, and struggle to come up with new ideas.

All the while, social media is showing us that others are NOT struggling. Her business is growing. She just launched a new service offer. She is thriving. She lost 10 pounds, while I’m being unproductive and eating chips.

And from there – the guilt trickles in.

I am lucky enough to have work. I am lucky. Why am I not taking advantage of this?

I have always worked from home. Why is this so damn hard??

And it’s not just work related. In Ottawa, we are finally entering summer and are finally seeing some restrictions lift. But it is only just now starting.

Up until recently, the sun was shining, and we couldn’t enjoy it. We are all exhausted, miss our friends, have cancelled more travel plans than we’d like to admit, are tired of Zoom meetings, tired of our employers, and irritated with everyone – bosses, colleagues, friends, families, the poor folks at the grocery store we can’t understand because they’re behind  plexi-glass and wearing masks.

For consultants and entrepreneurs, there’s a sense of “I have to work” in order to keep clients satisfied. We can’t take vacations or unplanned days off. Deadlines are deadlines.

Some of this is pressure we put on ourselves. Some clients are incredibly understandable – tell them you’re struggling, and they’ll extend the deadline, no questions asked.

Others, unfortunately, aren’t (whether they can’t be or choose not to be is up for debate).

I’m looking forward to getting out of this pandemic: out of the rut, the unwanted familiarity, the same desk every. single. day. 

I’m looking forward to when more work becomes easier again; instead of struggling with less work.

One thing we’ve learned for sure in these past 15 months, is that burnout affects everyone, and it doesn’t matter how busy or open your schedule is. This pandemic has affected many, many employees and entrepreneurs alike, and if there is one positive thing to come out of it, maybe leaders will be more aware of burnout and mental health problems at work.

If you’re looking for advice on how you can be more understanding of pandemic burnout and how mental health impacts your employees, please reach out. We’re all struggling, whether it’s obvious or not.

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