Burnout can be defined as a stressful condition commonly associated with the workplace that leads to mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. While this state can be debilitating, it’s possible to engage in mindful practices as a precaution to avoid burning out.
Here are ten mindfulness tips for incorporating into your life to help prevent burnout or help you reset when you feel exhausted:
- Body-Scan Meditation
- Pomodoro Technique
- Doing Nothing
- Self Massage
- Eat Mindfully
- Social Interaction
- Artistic Pursuit
- Listening to Music
In this article, we’ll explore each of these different mindfulness tips so that you can identify and prevent burnout.
How To Avoid Burnout
The WHO defines burnout as a ‘syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’ From this definition, it’s clear that burnout is a phenomenon restricted to workplace stressors.
However, its effects are pervasive and impact every area of life, including our interactions with family and friends, fulfillment in other endeavors, and the joy we experience in life.
With this in mind, let’s explore how to prevent this state or recognize and deal with stress early on so we can avoid burnout.
Body scan meditation is an effective way to get in touch with how you’re feeling in the moment. Most times, our bodies broadcast signals of irritability and exhaustion before our rational minds can comprehend the symptoms.
Our rationality allows us to override these helpful and sometimes obvious communications from the body.
Performing a body scan helps you connect to your physiological state, relieving chronic stress and relaxing your muscles and organs so you can avoid overstressing the body.
When we are stressed, our muscles tighten up, and the organs release hormones that can make us agitated or irritable. By relaxing our bodies, we can prevent the physiological effect of stress, reducing the chances of burnout.
To perform a thorough body scan, lie down comfortably and pay attention to each part of your body, starting from your toes up to your head. As you scan different segments, imagine the pent-up tension being released with every exhalation.
Performing a body scan for just fifteen minutes every day can help rejuvenate your state of being.
In a nutshell, the Pomodoro technique involves half an hour of dedicated, hyper-focused work followed by a five to seven-minute meditation break. During this break, you simply observe your breath and allow thoughts to pass through your mind.
After each break, you’ll find yourself returning to work with a more relaxed outlook. Most importantly, the meditative break allows you to split work into chunks and prevents you from getting overwhelmed.
Journaling involves writing down thoughts as they pass through your mind. You can journal in the mornings or jot down notes at the end of your day before you fall asleep, and it’s an effective way to unburden yourself.
The advantage of journaling is that it allows you to release pent-up aggression and unravel convoluted thoughts that may have intruded into your headspace.
As such, journaling can be likened to a cleanse that helps you purge unwanted and intrusive thoughts that occupy valuable space in your mind.
By periodically performing this cleanse, you can let go of troubling thoughts and interact with friends and family without allowing workplace stressors to affect your relationships.
Tip: When you start journaling, it’s best to build the practice by writing only a paragraph on the first day and increasing the number of words from there. If you start by writing too much, you may not continue the habit, and journaling is most effective when it becomes a regular practice.
The benefits of yoga go beyond simply avoiding burnout or dealing with stress, and if you haven’t already, it’s best to begin a regular yoga practice to enhance the quality of your life.
Yoga primarily involves moving in and out of asanas (postures) rhythmically while focusing on your breath. Regular practice strengthens the body, making it more flexible and durable. A healthy body is the most effective barrier against the worst effects of stress.
However, the hidden benefits of yoga lie in the mental fortitude it provides, giving you the resilience to deal with obstacles that you encounter throughout life.
This mental state also makes stress a lot less debilitating and grants you the opportunity to deal with stressors in a timely and healthy manner.
Additionally, regular yoga practice enhances your conscious awareness, making you more perceptive of possible stressors, allowing you to avoid them entirely if necessary.
Aside from mental clarity, yoga acts as a balm to the body’s nervous system, helping to regulate its activity. Typically, our nervous system is in a state of constant activity, responding to external stimuli with the fight or flight response.
Yoga helps soothe the body into a state of homeostasis, allowing you to observe and respond to external events rather than react to them instinctively. This difference in how you respond to stressors can significantly reduce stress levels, preventing you from feeling burnt out.
While it seems straightforward in principle, doing nothing is pretty challenging, especially in today’s hyper-connected, instantly-responsive society. Most people can’t sit for five minutes without checking social media or watching a clip on YouTube.
It’s been proven that regularly logging on to social media can contribute to increasing your stress levels. Additionally, your brain is constantly active even after work, and without a reprieve from this constant stimulation, you’re likely to get stressed out.
True relaxation involves unplugging from everything and taking some time to sit with yourself and your thoughts without any purpose or direction.
When you first attempt doing nothing, you’ll notice that it’s difficult, even frightening. Your mind will try and convince you that something needs your immediate attention, and you may experience a bout of anxiety. This response is your mind’s attempt to get you to move.
However, if you sit with this feeling for a few moments, you’ll notice the unease and discomfort start to dissipate, and you can begin to relax.
Ideally, you should try to schedule at least twenty minutes of ‘doing nothing’ into your daily routine, where you’re free from all types of obligations. This relaxation break is a powerful technique to bring yourself back to the present and effectively reduce stress levels.
Self-care is a mindful practice that tells your unconscious brain that you are worth taking care of. One of the simplest ways to perform a self-care routine is to give yourself a massage while relaxing and enjoying the treatment.
You can focus on massaging your scalp with oil or massage other accessible parts of your body, like your arms and legs.
A self-massage can help significantly reduce stress and put you in a relaxed state by giving your body the love and attention it needs. This practice is similar to a body scan where you can connect with your physiological state and release pent-up tension.
Today, most of us watch Netflix shows, surf social media, or play phone games during meals. Aside from poor digestion, eating this way causes us to be less mindful of what we’re doing.
Eating mindfully, with purpose, and while savoring every morsel is the quickest way to bring us back to the present moment. And the best part is we can engage in this practice at least thrice every day.
Aside from eating mindfully, we should also focus on eating healthy food to nourish our bodies and give us the nutrition we need to function optimally.
An aspect of mindful eating involves consuming healthy, wholesome foods. Most of the fried foods we eat today rob us of the vital energy required to tackle life and its challenges. By shifting to a healthier diet, we can limit the stress on our bodies and protect ourselves against burnout.
Cooking is another healthy, mindful practice to incorporate into your life and one that can significantly shift your perspective on mindfulness and health.
The act of cooking requires mindfulness, and regularly engaging in this activity can help us stay grounded, creating a buffer against further stress.
Due to the pandemic, most of us have spent a significant period working from home, isolated from other members of the workplace. The separation from an interconnected community has had adverse effects that continue to affect society and many employees and will do so for some time to come.
Humans are social beings, and while we can spend a significant portion of time by ourselves, separation from other people can lead to depression and burnout. Without people to interact with, we tend to go about our lives mechanically, which is one of the leading symptoms of burnout.
However, the key to healthier human interactions is to engage in mindful practices with other individuals. Most people mistake partying with a group and late nights with friends for real social connection.
But to truly engage in a mindful activity with another human means being present in each other’s company with a shared sense of responsibility to make this interaction wholesome.
Mindfully spending time with friends or a loved one can help us connect to a deeper source of meaning and fulfillment within ourselves, a feeling that’s necessary if we want to avoid burnout. Meaningful interactions differ from person to person, but as a general guideline, pick an activity that involves interacting without any substances.
This activity can be a movement art form, like flow arts, yoga, or skateboarding. You can even engage in less physically intensive activities, like taking a walk or getting on a call and sharing details about your life with a loved one.
While partying and social drinking have their place, they can’t replace the need for a real human connection that lies dormant within all of us. And by connecting to this source, we can make our lives more meaningful and prevent the symptoms of burnout.
The act of creating something entirely new and introducing it into the world has a cathartic effect and can imbue us with a sense of meaning and purpose not readily found in most other endeavors.
Creating a painting, writing a poem, or dancing requires our attention and generates a state of flow. Experiencing the flow state is similar to meditation. It helps us leave the typical structure of reality for a while and enter into an immersive experience that puts us in an enlightened state. If you’re working hard throughout the day, an art break can help interrupt the constant stream of information you have to interact with and make sense of.
This break from the workplace stimuli allows your brain to relax and pursue an activity for its own sake, which is the essence of mindfulness. Delving into an art form and learning its intricacies can also make life seem less severe, which can help deter burnout.
Listening to Music
While listening to music is pleasurable, the actual release happens when you’re able to pay attention to a song from beginning to end mindfully. And we’re not talking about listening to music while working, although it has its benefits.
To bring more awareness to your state of existence and prevent the symptoms of burnout, try setting aside a few minutes every day to only listen to music. Pay attention to the harmony and rhythm, and try to savor every sound while enjoying the textures and intricacies you hear.
Listening to music can help improve your mood and release stress, and doing so mindfully will give you a break from the duties at work. This practice also breaks the monotony of constant work, allowing you to avoid approaching burnout too quickly.
Burnout is a harmful state of being, and in today’s busy workplace environment, it’s easy to fall into a routine that quickly results in you being burnt out. By being mindful of your surroundings and engaging in mindful practices, you can significantly reduce stress in your life and prevent burnout.