15 November 2021

Burnout, mindfulness and meditation. 7 best tips to prevent and transform burnout.

Would you know if you had burnout? Would you admit to it? Would you recognise burnout in someone else? And what to do about it? How to prevent it? How to get through it…

Burnout is commonly associated with exhaustion, lack of empathy and reduced performance. It has become a massive issue in the wake of the pandemic, so this week we examine this debilitating issue more closely, and offer some possible solutions, but first

    Thought for the day

         Profound peace,

           Natural simplicity,

              Uncompounded luminosity

    The Buddha’s first words after attaining enlightenment

Commonly burnout is associated with the workplace and 3 main symptoms 

1. Exhaustion: People affected feel drained and emotionally exhausted, unable to cope, tired and down, and do not have enough energy. Physical symptoms can include pain and stomach or bowel problems.

2. Lack of empathy: People start being cynical about their working conditions and their colleagues. At the same time, they may increasingly distance themselves emotionally, and start feeling numb about their work and lives.

3. Reduced performance: Burnout affects everyday tasks at work, at home or when caring for family members. People with burnout are very negative about their tasks, find it hard to concentrate, are listless and lack creativity.

But other conditions such as depression often include these symptoms, so how to be sure what the problem is? Well, that is not so easy. 

Firstly, recent research indicates people can experience burnout outside of a formal workplace. 

Also, those with burnout often report a common list of symptoms 

- stress or anxiety (anxiety is when stress becomes overwhelming), depression and low mood, irritability and anger, sleep disturbances, lack of motivation or passion, lack of concentration, memory loss or brain fog, withdrawal from others, physical symptoms such as aches, headaches, nausea, low libido and emotional fragility. 

Quite a list.

There are a number of self-assessment questionnaires, but generally a high score indicates the need to seek professional help. 

If the symptoms listed are an issue, going to a GP or mental health professional may well be necessary; clarification is important as different psychological conditions often require disorder-specific treatment strategies.

Amongst many other issues, the pandemic has disrupted many of our usual social supports. No surprise many are feeling stretched to their limits and beyond, and burnout is rife. The financial burden is incredible, with stress-related work absenteeism and presenteeism currently costing Australia nearly $15 billion per year!

So the intention here is to avoid adding more potential stress, but to acknowledge the size of what is a huge and debilitating issue, and to suggest some solutions purely from a meditator’s perspective.


If in danger of burnout, if you suspect burnout is a looming possibility, if you feel burnout is a real issue for yourself or someone you care about...

1. Regard the situation as a medical emergency

If you were bleeding badly, you would go to a GP or call an ambulance – immediately. Potential or actual burnout needs to be taken that seriously – by the individuals affected, their workplaces, colleagues, friends and families.

2. Make the effort to talk about it

A common issue that aggravates burnout is it can be hidden. Many who burnout are high achievers and perfectionists who tend to be pretty good at masking their issues. Admitting to a problem does not come easily, but the effort is essential in prevention and recovery. If it is someone else you are concerned about, be prepared to persist and raise the issue repeatedly until a reasonable conversation can be had around your concerns, the response of the other person, along with an exploration of possible courses of action.

3. Lighten the load

Here is some news that may disappoint. You may consider yourself to be indispensable. However, it is highly likely if you do take some time out, if you do say no occasionally, even often, the world will continue to spin. Disappointing, but true. Give someone else a chance to do what you do so well – they may well surprise you…





4. Practice deep relaxation

The Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise – as on our Allevi8 app – done lying down is highly recommended. 

If it does cause you to drop off to sleep, no worries. 

When you wake up, either repeat the exercise or go on with your day and come back to the PMR soon. 

Over time the weariness will wear off and you will relax and meditate with more awareness; in the interim, entering into sleep via deep relaxation will be highly restorative.

5. Ease up on the perfectionism

We are all perfectionists to a degree. Aim to scale it down a bit. Do some things that actually trains you to let go a little – like deliberately leaving clothes on the floor or delaying some cleaning for a reasonable while. 

6. Practise self-care – on the indulgent side

What does this mean for you? Massage? Movies? Eating out? Time in nature? Hot baths? Time with people you are close to? Time on your own?

This is not just self-indulgence; this is a therapeutic necessity to regain your balance. It will not hurt to overdo this a bit to begin with, then settle into a more balanced mix of work and time for self.

7. Ask for help

Now there is a radical idea. 

At home, ask the family or co-habitants to do more with the day-to-day tasks. 

At work, speak with the boss, explain the situation and ask for a review of workloads.

Can you seek help from cleaners or babysitters? 

Personally, with a diagnosed burnout, my feeling is such services should be available like a physio is for someone with a bad back, and as such should be available on Medicare. Now that would be progressive! 

Maybe best not to wait… but in the interim, realise it may well be money very well spent.


The need is to reduce the stress loads 

and to give time to relax and regenerate. 


What is behind the panic around COVID-19, and what to do?

Stress management in the time of COVID-19 – a holistic approach


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