How to handle MCO burnout

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GOING into the second month of the Movement Control Order (MCO), most people would probably be experiencing some kind of burnout.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed. It’s characterised by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”

With the new norm of working from home and being self-quarantined, incidences of burnout are becoming more common. I experienced this a few weeks into the MCO.

I felt lethargic, de-motivated and I lost interest in common activities such as exercising or reading.

Even social media didn’t appeal as much as before. It wasn’t very pleasant. I felt helpless and anxious.

I’m sure I’m not alone. There are those who have found working from home harder than expected. Many people reported feeling burnout as they had to juggle between work and family life.

Seeing other people taking positive advantage of the MCO period didn’t help either. They felt that they were losing out in terms of learning new skills or picking up new hobbies.

Many felt useless as they couldn’t be out there helping people in need.

So how do we overcome this and get our fire burning again?

I tried these tips and they worked for me.


This is arguably the hardest step. It’s not easy to admit that we have a problem. But if you trust your partner and family, there’s no harm in talking to them. I discussed this with my wife.

She had a similar feeling as she missed her routine and friends. My college-going daughters too said that their friends were reporting the same.

They found it hard to complete assignments on time. Fortunately, their lecturers understood the situation and granted them an extension.

It does help to know that you’re not alone. There’s strength in numbers.

Acknowledge that we have a problem, and it’s not that bad. It’s a first step towards regaining our momentum again.


Before springing into action, take your much-needed break. I took a few days off by leaving my work behind.

Instead, I spent some time watching some good movies and even started binge-watching several good series.

I also stayed away from social media. It felt good as I blocked myself from potential negativities out there.


Soon after, I felt refreshed and was ready to start again. I revisited my daily schedule and made changes.

I focused on key priorities and dropped a few things that had caused me anxiety. I ensured I had a balanced schedule for work, family and myself.

I protected myself from feeling anxious when others were taking up new skills, building new businesses or helping more people. I still wanted to do all that — but in my own way.

Now I feel liberated and ready. I’ll take it easy to avoid another burnout. It’s a great feeling when you’re back in control. I’ve done it. Many people have experienced it.

Now it’s your turn to re-ignite your fire.

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