WHO says burnout is a medical condition, leading to the big question: What is the answer?
Burnout has long been a widely discussed mental health concern. And while it’s not news to most of us that burnout exists, the World Health Organization’s recent announcement that burnout is now an official medical diagnosis highlights the severity of the issue. This leaves many thinking; how can burnout be cured? Or better yet, how can it be avoided?
The answer to this health concern is both simple to learn and easy to implement. Mindfulness has been proven to combat the effects of stress and burnout, making it necessary to implement for both individuals and organizations.
The World Health Organization outlined some symptoms of burnout, including:
- Decreased energy and exhaustion
- Feeling mentally distanced from or negative towards one’s job
- Becoming less effective at one’s job
Elaine Cheung, a professor of medical social sciences, outlined some important aspects of an employee’s work life that employers should be paying attention to. Her list included:
- Whether employees have a solid community in the workplace
- The quality of a worker’s social relationships
- How manageable employees’ workloads are
While these are important guidelines, the truth of the matter is that work-life balance is almost never a 50/50 split and workloads often fluctuate. The question then becomes, what do you do if you can’t guarantee to keep these factors consistent 100% of the time?
The answer is mindfulness. Mindfulness has been proven to reduce and effectively manage stress – which is where burnout typically stems from. It also empowers employees to do their best, deal with emotions efficiently, and make sound decisions based on their thoughts, beliefs, and values. Ultimately, mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment on purpose. Awareness of the present moment encourages positive reactions to difficult experiences and gives individuals more compassion for themselves.
Simply speaking, mindfulness is a sure way to take care of yourself 100% of the time. While external factors such as employee workload and social relationships may not be consistent 24/7, an individual is always able to choose mindfulness practices which will keep them feeling empowered and energized rather than burnt out.
How to incorporate mindfulness in your work life
As someone who has implemented, studied, and taught mindfulness for years, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best response to burnout and the best preventative measure for burnout. Through my experience as an executive and personal mindfulness coach, I have seen the positive impacts of mindfulness unfold in the lives of many individuals, both in their personal lives and their work lives. I’ve seen organizations transformed by the power of mindfulness after receiving my workshops or employee sessions on mindfulness training. I believe in mindfulness not simply because I’ve heard that it works, but because I’ve seen it combat employee burnout time and time again.