Monday, February 15, 2021

Burnout is real, but there's hope - Mindfulness

Tired, overwhelmed, feeling like everyone around you is a moron, not getting good sleep. These are all common symptoms of being burnt out - a condition that makes it difficult to do things like cook healthy meals, get in workouts and a good night's sleep. Basically, being healthy becomes a major pain in the ass.

Fortunately, there has been a recent study out of Finland that has shown that a mindset shift, and a simple one at that, can alleviate a lot of the problems that burnout creates, and help us stay on track with our health and wellness. Below are the results of a randomized controlled study. 

How the study worked

After using the  to identify 202 employees with burnout, researchers split study participants into two groups.

Group #1: In addition to , these study participants got 8 weeks worth of mindfulness classes. Twice a day, six days a week, participants did 10-15 minutes of mindfulness meditation. They also brought  into their daily activities.

Group #2: These burned out individuals received standard treatments, but no mindfulness training.

Over 10 months the researchers measured how five mindfulness skills affected the three main symptoms of burnout: , and .

What the study found

The mindfulness intervention helped alleviate all burnout symptoms beyond standard treatment alone.

Though each of the 5 mindfulness skills proved effective during the first 8 weeks of the study, the study revealed that the "non-judging" skill continued months after the initial intervention had ended. To combat cynicism and professional efficacy, the observation skill was continued well past the study as well.

Takeaways for you

1. Keep an eye out for signs of burnout.

How can you tell if you are or are becoming burned out? The researchers offered a few helpful clues.

Are you:

  • Complaining of exhaustion, saying things like, “I’m just snowed under” or “I’m just so run down.”

  • Sounding cynical, making comments like, “Who cares?” and “I don’t know why I bother.”

  • Lacking confidence, perhaps telling you, “It’s impossible for me to do a good job.”

Here’s a little more detail on how stressors like burnout can manifest. See if you can relate to one or more of the symptoms below.

2. Talking about relaxation techniques or forcing relaxation/meditation techniques can actually make us feel more stressed

It’s not that we don't believe in the need for, or the power of relaxation, rather, we struggle seeing ourselves in that space. We all can't imagine meditating. Or doing breathing exercises. And the more we feel pressured to do it, the less likely it will be effective.

That’s why it can be helpful to reframe mindfulness as a daily practice they can do in small chunks—and in conjunction with other activities. Try:

  • Washing the dishes, observing how the soap and water feels and smells.
  • Eating, by slowing down and noticing every nuance of their meal’s flavor.
  • Walking, by mentally observng and describing what they see and experience, without reacting to it. For example, they might notice that snow makes a crunching sound under their feet, but not ruminate over the “terrible” weather.

3. If you're interested in mindfulness, the mind-body scan is a great place to start.

This is something that I have recently tapped into with my new coach. I didn't realize how checked out I was of how I really felt until I started this. 

To do it, people just rest quietly and scan their body from head to toe, observing their physical sensations, without judging or reacting to them. Clients can use any number of apps—such as Calm or Headspace—for a guided experience.

Think of it as an experiment or a challenge. What if you tried this for 2 weeks, keeping a log on mood, sleep and stress level. Yes, we love our wearables, but sometimes your Whoop data isn't telling you everything. 

4. As coaches, we look for opportunities to bring mindfulness into our  conversations with you. 

This is a critical piece as to what we do. We work in non-reacting, non-judgment methods that are designed to help you. Because we've been there. And helping you get better makes the life of everyone around you better. So don't hesitate to reach out - for a free consultation email me at or go to and click on the nutrition link for a free nutrition consultation. 

Stay strong,