New challenge: Not going through “burnout” in times of quarantine

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Fereshteh Bagheri, a medical student at Tabriz university of medical sciences, Iran. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


First days of quarantine had been started with common thought among most of people “what we will do at home?” but soon after everything changed.

Let us review what happened on internet: all bloggers have started to provide content about what we can do or in general, how we can be productive during this time and save our routine. Most of international, national and sometimes local organization have started to offer webinars or free access learning stuff. Even our friends have started to introduce movies, books and useful applications. If you think, you can remember more examples like these. All of them leaded to over loaded options to do and sometimes we can feel it has turned to productivity contest, which can put each one of us into stressful situation and mental pressure. Now this can affect us more as we already should struggle with pandemic news and other mental health threatening factors of that as well.

Still there is no agreed on how to define burnout[1]; but burnout can be result of different things like: stress of workload, perceived lack of control, not matching intrinsic and extrinsic rewards for the work, not having supportive community around, fairness, value mismatch[2]. You can recognize that with its signs and symptoms including: [3]

  • Exhaustion
  • lack of energy
  • constant fatigue
  • sleep disorder
  • reduced performance
  • concentration and memory problems
  • inability to make decisions
  • reduced initiative and imagination

Overall, overloaded options and resulted stress in this special time with its own tough situation can facilitate the process of going through burnout. Still we do not know when this situation in different countries going to end so although each person has different personality, potentially each one of us can go through that.

What we can do to prevent that in time of self-isolation? [4] [5] [6]

  • prioritize self-care
  • Exercise: beside the fact that it can help your physical health, it can be helpful for your mental health but in this specific time to make it a daily habit, you can work with different mobile application or online with your friends.
  • Eat a balanced diet: eating a healthy diet with omega-3 fatty acids can be a natural antidepressant.
  • Practice good sleep habits: avoiding caffeine before bedtime, establishing a relaxing bedtime ritual, and banning smartphones from the bedroom can help promote sound sleep hygiene.
  • Continuing social connection online
  • Shift your perspective: although self-care can be helpful but you may still face the same impossible workload so now it is a good time to take a close look to your mindset and assumptions.
  • Reduce exposure to stressors: identify the most stressful source of your current life and establish some limitations for it.
  • Ask for help

How to help others?

  • Listen and validate feelings and concerns
  • Offer specific types of help
  • Send them some resources to read more about it

References

[1]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279286/

[2]: https://hbr.org/amp/2019/07/6-causes-of-burnout-and-how-to-avoid-them

[3]: https://www.schoen-clinic.com/burnout

[4]: https://www.healthline.com/health/tips-for-identifying-and-preventing-burnout

[5]: https://hbr.org/amp/2016/11/beating-burnout

[6]: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips

About the author

Fereshteh Bagheri is a medical student at Tabriz university of medical sciences, Iran (16-23) with a Natural Sciences Diploma (national organization for development of exceptional talents). She was a senior author at virtualdr website and magazine from Dec 2016 to Nov 2018.

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