Using mindfulness to prevent burnout

The World Health Organization classified burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019. Whilst it’s not a formal medical diagnosis it is defined as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

But burnout is more than simply feeling stressed or overworked. It’s a psychological syndrome that culminates over a period of time in response to chronic stressors. One way to combat stress, improve mental health and prevent burnout is to practise mindfulness at work.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a practice that allows us to connect with ourselves and in doing so, we become more aware of our thoughts and feelings. The awareness enables us to deal with these thoughts and feelings accordingly rather than react subconsciously with undesired consequences.

Here’s what mindfulness could look like in the workplace:

1. Breathe

Deep breathing is a great way to reduce stress in the body because breathing helps our physiology calm down and relax. It’s relatively easy to do anytime, anywhere – we simply have to be aware that we’re reacting to a stressful situation and to pause, so that we can breathe deeply.

2. Meditation

There are plenty of apps these days that enable us to meditate on the go. It’s an efficient way to focus on the present – be mindful – whilst hitting the pause and reset button.

3. Mindful Movement

Instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media, take a walk instead. Being mindful about scheduling in movement throughout the day has plenty of mental benefits including stress reduction and increasing resilience. Be in the moment with your activity, notice the smells, the scenery around you, the textures, engage all your senses to be truly present.

How Mindfulness Prevents Burnout

How mindfulness prevents burnout

1. Mindfulness Decreases Your Stress & Anxiety

Mindfulness can help mitigate stress by promoting relaxation. It’s also instrumental in helping you let go of niggling worries whilst increasing positive feelings and resilience. As a result, tense situations become less triggering or stressful over time.

Practising mindfulness everyday can also alleviate stress that would otherwise result in other less healthy stress-relief options such as smoking, excessive alcohol or binge eating.

2. Mindfulness Increases Focus & Concentration

Mindfulness teaches us to focus on the present moment. This makes us more effective when it comes to tuning out distractions whilst completing the task at hand. This improved focus leads to better decision making and efficiency both at work and at home.

Whilst mindfulness might seem like another time-consuming activity to add to an already busy day with a never-ending to-do list, it can actually increase your productivity and prevent burnout.

3. Mindfulness Improves Your Physical Health

Mindfulness has been linked to several physical benefits, including pain relief, lower oxygen consumption and decreased respiratory rate.

Regular practice has been shown to decrease blood pressure and increase blood flow to the heart. Mindfulness also helps promote restful sleep alleviating stress that can lead to burnout.

Mindfulness is completely accessible to anyone. There is no special equipment required and you can be mindful of almost everything and anything you do.

There’s a growing body of research that shows practising mindfulness leads to a reduction in stress, and improvements in mood, health, self-efficacy, and self-compassion.

There’s no need to feel like you have to spend all day practising mindfulness. Even 5 minutes at a time to start with is a wonderful step in the right direction.