Mallory Welsh, LCSW

I work with many clients who are truly starting to struggle with their work transition of working from home 100% of the time due to the current global pandemic. Some clients of mine were working remotely prior the pandemic, and they too are struggling due to most of their shared office spaces/coffee shops are currently closed. One of my jobs as their clinician is to help the client understand some warning signs that they could be burning out from work, and then possible coping strategies to help manage this burnout feeling. 

I recently read an article from Fast Company that touched on this very topic, “The red-flag signs you may be burning out while working from home” by author Aytekin Tank. Below are the key points from Tank’s article about some warning signs that you too may be struggling from burnout, and also some coping strategies when faced with burnout.

  • Refusal to take time off. One major red-flag and an increase toward burnout from your job is refusing to take a day off (even if you have accrued time off). Some people are refusing to take time off during the pandemic because they are too overwhelmed to face the reality of the current global pandemic’s impact on themselves and the people around them. Other people are refusing to take time off from work because they have convinced themselves they haven’t deserved the time off. Now more than ever given the state of the world, people need to take care of themselves, which means taking a day off to serve their mental health.  


  • Work is now escapism from non-work stressors. If you are starting to notice that you are adding more work on your plate simply because the reality in your personal life is too challenging, this too can be a red flag you are on the brink of burnout. One reason people tend to create this unhealthy pattern with work is because it gives them a sense of control whereas they don’t feel they have a sense of control on their personal life. The reality with doing that is that your personal problems likely will not go away, they will just be put on pause, and likely increase the severity of the problem over time. 
  • Struggling with work boundaries. I have been hearing a new phrase from clients that they “live at work” instead of “working from home”. Not everyone has a big enough home to have an additional room for their home office. If that is the case, then we must get creative. Maybe there is a little nook in the corner of your living room where you can place a desk to separate the rest of your studio apartment for leisure time. It is a slippery slope to do work on the couch because you likely will struggle with putting a stop to the end of your work day.
  • Fear of job security turns into an obsession. Of course, it is important to work hard at your job which for many people, that gives them a sense of security at their job, but when it becomes obsessive to the point where you no longer have a sense of self outside of work, that is when it becomes detrimental to your well-being. 
  • What do I do to cope with burnout? Take a vacation. Give yourself a self-care day. Give yourself a mental health day. Do something that isn’t work related. Work is simply what you do, not who you are, it is crucial to learn to gently separate the difference in your mind. 


If you are currently struggling with burnout from work, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled therapists via online counseling in Chicago. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.