Gather ’round for a very real, very true horror story, ghouls and boils...
It’s 5PM and the sun is starting to set. A pressuring ache is creeping behind your eyes from staring at the screen all day. Some rational part of your brain says you have to figure out dinner (among many other personal things), but another part of your brain reminds you that you have a DEADline. You find yourself thinking about foregoing dinner for a little while longer just so you can get more work done. “Just an hour or two more” turns into eleven PM...then one AM...and you find your only need for sustenance...is the screen! That’s when you know—you’ve turned into a remote work zombie. 🧟
But seriously, though…
The whole zombie analogy might seem silly, but there’s growing evidence that suggests staying in a job that consumes your brain could turn you into the working dead. The scary part about this story is the lie we tell ourselves, that work is more important than our mental or physical wellbeing and how we ignore the signs telling us to run. Even scarier: the lines between work and our personal lives will continue to blur the more we work remotely. What can you do? We’ve got some ideas to escape your potential zombie fate...
Take a day (or week) off to reset
Resting is key to breaking yourself away from soul-sucking work and getting clarity on your situation. Even if you only have one day, that is enough time to take a walk, do some journaling, and get a clearer picture of what’s really happening and what’s making you feel tethered to an unhealthy situation. In addition, set aside time to get creative and rediscover what makes you feel alive. The more time you spend with the real you, the easier the next steps will be.
Get help from a safe place
Once you’ve spent time alone, reach out to a professional that makes you feel seen and heard. Maybe your current job has a strong HR department and that’s the kind of immediate advice you feel empowered to seek out. Otherwise, get in touch with a trusted counselor or therapist to talk through both work and personal issues to gain better insight on what needs to change.
Once you’re on the other side of Zombieland, you’ll look back and see the damage you can do to yourself without boundaries. It’s not like setting boundaries is a one-and-done kind of thing—it’s an ongoing process you’ll need to work on. Your trusted counselor or therapist can help you identify the broken boundaries you can start with immediately, though, helping you alleviate some of the mental and physical stress that got you into a draining situation.
Make an escape plan
Just like in apocalyptic movies, you’ll need an escape plan. Okay, maybe it’s not that dire for you, but you’ve clearly found that your current state isn’t working. What are you going to do to change your situation today? How about next week? How about next month? If you want to find a new job, there’s a path for you even if you only devote 15 minutes a day. If your situation just requires a new space to work, figure out how to find your dream workspace. Focus on what you want to change and make a plan to tackle your specific issue.
Evaluate six months later
Situations change, plans fall through, acts of nature intervene with your life—and you’ll need to be prepared to pivot in this fluctuating world. If you find yourself back in a similar situation, like some sort of Twilight Zone episode, no need to panic. You’ve been here before and you can change your situation by making space for alone time and planning your next move. You’re resilient, and with continued learning, you can avoid becoming a remote work zombie again.
If you’re looking for a new gig with a change of scenery, we’ve got plenty that don’t suck. 🧛♀️