How To Get From Workplace Burnout To Kindfulness

Burnout is chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

World Health Organisation Definition

What Causes Burnout?

It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.

Me last week

Working in a fast paced industry is very intense. There is little time for rest and relaxation in the work world at the moment. Work seems to start early in the morning and never finishes. This cannot last forever and there is only yourself who can do something about it. Recognising the causes can be the first step in identifying that burnout could be a problem…

  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics…  feeling undermined by colleagues and office bullies or micromanaged. This can be so damaging. The small things that happen in the office can manifest and grow in our minds when we’re away from work and by the time we get back in the office, issues can grow into huge problems. Stewing on things that happen in the office can be so dangerous for your own health.
  • Lack of control… an inability to influence decisions that affect your job or resources you need to do your job or unclear job expectations… not sure what is expected of you or overly demanding expectations. Having an input into your role is key. Remember the famous quote by Steve Jobs “we don’t hire clever people to tell them what to do, we hire clever people to tell us what to do”.
  • Extremes of activity …  Monotonous or chaotic activities.  You need constant energy to remain focused which leads to fatigue and burnout. Mind numbing activities do nothing to motivate people. Automate as much of the repetitive work as you can and free people up to do more interesting things. No one performs optimally if they are overworked and tired. Concentration is reduced and nervousness and responsiveness takes over sensible rational decisions.
  • Lack of social support …  Isolated at work or in your personal life resulting in no support or someone to talk to. Having a good network of friends or colleagues is so valuable. Getting through some tough times is so much easier when you have a good group of people around you.
  • Work life imbalance … when your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you feel you don’t have the energy to spend time with your family and friends. Family and friends first, always!

How To Recognise That You Have Burnout?

Symptoms of burnout can be varied with physical, behaviour and emotional signs. Often others recognise these symptoms before you do and sometimes before you know it, you are ticking all of the symptoms

Physical:

  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time
  • Lowered immunity, feeling unwell
  • Frequent headaches, back pain and muscle aches
  • Change in appetite or sleep habits

Behavioural:

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done
  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
  • Taking out your frustrations on others
  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

Emotional:

  • Sense of failure and self-doubt
  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
  • Detachment, feeling alone in the world
  • Loss of motivation
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment

How To Reduce Burnout

So you realise your burnout, what can you do…

  • Get support from your manager and colleagues.  Set realistic goals and be clear what you are meant to do. Don’t try to give yourself unrealistic expectations. Break your tasks into a to do list with manageable chunks of activities … there are lots of good (and sometimes free) tools available online like Trello, Todoist, Jira etc. These can help you breakdown your goals into smaller achievable blocks as well as helping you to track and manage them.
  • Seek support from co-works, friends or loved ones.  Take advantage of employee assistance programmes if they are available at your place of work. Talk to your friends or family. They might not know the full details of what’s going on in work, but can often be a good sounding ground and offer good advice. They love and care for you and only want the best for you.
  • Try a relaxing activity such as yoga, meditation or Tai Chi. Mindfulness is the act of focusing your breathing and being aware of what you are sensing and feeling without interpretation of judgement. It is very popular today and again, there are a lot of apps out there that can help like Calm and Mindspace. I have used Calm for about 2 years now and find it really helpful to get some me time as well as read me a bedtime story… I haven’t managed to get to the end of one of their stories yet before falling asleep.
  • Get some regular exercise to help deal with stress and take your mind off work and eat healthy. As we know exercise releases endorphins into our body which help us feel good. Exercising will also give us the energy to face whatever is coming your way.
  • Get some sleep to restore well-being and protect your health. Lack of sleep is a real problem when your mind is still very much active on the things that happened that day or the things you have to do tomorrow. As for mindfulness, apps like Calm can really help to send you to sleep as you stop thinking about your problems and start relaxing listening to the app.
  • Or look to our European friends for some creative ideas …….
Country Tradition
Italy La dolce far niente The sweetness of doing nothing The Italians have a wonderful expression for allowing yourself to be still, quiet and to just be.
Denmak Hygge (pronounced Hue-Guh) The Danish approach to acknowledge a special feeling or moment.  It can be alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary, but it is always cosy, charming or special. 
Sweden Fika A Swedish traditional on having a coffee break, have some cake, slow down and appreciate the good things in life. 
Lagom Teaching yourself how to approach life with ‘everything in moderation’ mindset.
Scotland Coorie Getting back to basics by keeping warm (in heart, mind and body), going outdoors (come rain, hail or shine) Maintaining balance

Niksen Is The Dutch Art Of Doing Nothing

  • Allow your mind to simply wander without purpose (easier said than done)
  • Switch off your devices
  • Look out of the window or gaze into the distance
  • Do semi-automatic things e.g. knitting or walking
  • Daydream
  • Look at the clouds
  • Let your mind wander
  • Helps you relax, see things more clearly and be more productive

From Mindfulness to Kindfulness

I was browsing in a discount bookstore last week and a book title jumped off the shelves to me. It was Kindfulness by Padraig O’Morain.

As someone who is very aware of mindfulness as a concept, I was very interested in seeing what Kindfulness was about. The standard Google search returned that it is bringing together kindness, not only to one’s self but to others and Mindfulness which brings the busy mind back to the present moment in a non-judgemental way.

Kindfulness is about being a friend to the person you are now, not putting it off until you become a perfect person, which for most of us never arrives.

Padraig O’Morain Kindfulness

Rather than judge yourself and others, be kind to yourself and others. It will make you and them feel so much better. Remember, it’s only a job after all and we are all at work for more wakings hours than we are at home.

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