As a meditation teacher who does both private and corporate meditation sessions, one question I often hear is, “How can meditation help with burnout?”
The good news is that yes, whether you yourself are suffering from burnout or whether you are responsible for a team of burned-out employees, meditation most certainly can help. And honestly, that’s just as well because in my opinion, we are going through something of a burnout pandemic right now.
Frankly, this is absolutely no surprise. Indeed, if we consider the primary causes of burnout, it’s clear that modern society and business culture is directly causing us to feel burned out. For starters, many workers feel that their workload is simply more than they can take (although, for obvious reasons, they are reluctant to mention as much to their employers). Perceived lack of control is another common cause of burnout and no surprise as many workplaces are constantly shifting and most employees are at the mercy of their bosses with little control themselves. And finally, many employees feel a lack of connection with their work.
Because of these and other factors, far too many people are experiencing the physical and mental exhaustion that marks burnout, that emotional pain that makes it almost impossible to progress in a career, that mars every workday, and that leaves employees feeling unproductive, unmotivated, and unhappy. And practically every large corporation is searching for ways to prevent employee burnout, such as with corporate wellness programs, of which one of the most popular is meditation.
As experts in corporate meditation programs, we are here to help you and your employees to learn to meditate. So, let’s get to it. First, we will share a wonderful guided meditation for burnout, and then we will discuss the science.
Guided Meditation For Burnout
We have produced the following short guided meditation for burnout. Please note that you may use this guided meditation for your individual use but you may not use it in corporate settings. If you would like us to work with your team, please see our corporate meditation sessions.
How Does Meditation Help With Burnout?
When we meditate we focus the mind on specific things in order to produce certain cognitive and emotional benefits. If you have never meditated before, you can think of it as a silent time in which you focus on specific things, such as the breath, a mantra, or an emotional quality such as love and compassion.
Many people believe that meditation is just mindful breathing (observing the breath) or listening to a guided meditation. In reality, meditation is significantly deeper than that and there are many different meditation techniques. Indeed, one of my responsibilities as a meditation coach is helping students and employees to find the perfect meditation techniques for them, as well as helping employees to practice mindfulness at work.
Simply put, we use different meditation techniques for different reasons, and some meditation techniques are exceptional at reducing burnout. Through my years as a meditation teacher, I have been able to help many people overcome this common problem. For instance, just the other week I was helping an executive who felt exhausted and disconnected from work to regain their sense of grounding and to reenergize so they could continue to be successful in their career.
I believe it is quite obvious why meditation helps with burnout. Meditation gives us a short but essential period of time in which we sit silently and allow the mind to relax. And in this day and age of information overload, those moments of quiet are truly magical. But of course, it does get deeper than this.
Why Use Meditation For Burnout
Meditation can work wonders for burnout. Yes, the simple practice of focusing the mind on something (be it the breath, a mantra, or another object) can have a wonderful therapeutic effect for individuals suffering from burnout, and for several different reasons.
For starters, mindfulness and meditation lead to awareness, and awareness enables us to make changes. For example, one executive I worked with in a series of meditation lessons became aware that they had an almost compulsive thought that they must “do more.” No matter how much work they had done, they always felt like it wasn’t enough—no wonder they were suffering from burnout. Once they simply became aware of that thought they were able to change it, instead choosing to think “If I’ve worked eight hours today, that’s more than enough.” You see, sometimes we just have to become aware (or “mindful”) of something in order to change it.
And so, the first way we can use meditation for burnout is to raise our awareness, which in turn enables us to change. But it doesn’t stop there.
Meditation also yields many positive physiological responses. For instance, meditation promotes the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, helps to balance cortisol, serotonin, and noradrenaline, and strengthens numerous regions of the brain, all of which help with both stress and depression. [Read: Meditation for Stress and Meditation for Depression]
Plus, in our corporate meditation sessions we here at THE DAILY MEDITATION have seen how meditating as a group can help individuals to feel more connected with their peers, which is essential for burnout because one of the primary symptoms of the condition is a sense of disconnect.
Yes, there are many benefits of meditation for burnout, and whether you’re seeking a solution for yourself or for your employees, you will certainly see a healthy return-on-investment by taking a few meditation sessions with us here at THE DAILY MEDITATION.
Is It Burnout? And If So, What Type Of Burnout?
Burnout is closely related to other conditions and can sometimes be mistaken for stress and depression. One way to know for sure, according to Psychologist Stacie Fishell-Rowan, Ph.D., is to ask whether your feelings of sadness are directly related to your career. Fishell-Rowan says, “Burnout tends to be directly related to your career and job [where depression involves other aspects of life]”. Burnout is also typically not as long-lasting as depression. It is different to stress too. Burnout is more about exhaustion, where stress is an intense reaction to a perceived threat.
It’s also worth knowing the different types of burnout. There are three: Frenetic burnout, under-challenged burnout, and worn-out burnout.
Frenetic Burnout: This is typically experienced by those who are too heavily tasked in their jobs and very committed to their careers and who identify as excessively hard working. Such people often fail to set work/life boundaries and therefore regularly work overtime, to their detriment. The best form of meditation for this would be Analytical Meditation, a method in which we become aware of our habitual thoughts, and change them. For instance, if we regularly experience the thought “I need to work more”, we can challenge it by asking a) Do I really need to work more, and b) What might a better approach be?
Under-challenged Burnout: Individuals experiencing this subtype of burnout have lost interest in their work. They often feel that their jobs are monotonous and boring, and they feel unacknowledged. The best form of meditation for this would be straight-up introspection, investigating why we have lost interest in our jobs and looking inside to see if we need to make a change.
Worn-out Burnout: Individuals with this type of burnout feel exhausted, like they’ve hit a wall and can no longer persevere in their careers. This might also be combined with a feeling of being unacknowledged and lacking control. One of the best types of meditation for this is Mindful Breathing.
Of course, meditation is just one possible solution. CAMH also recommends exercising, socializing, feeling more of a sense of purpose about our work, addressing work-life balance, and eating healthily
Burnout is a growing concern, so much so that it is now a condition recognized by the World Health Organization. Be on the lookout for warning signs such as a feeling of disconnection, exhaustion, stress, and depression. If you think you are experiencing burnout, or if you are responsible for a team of employees who are experiencing burnout, meditation can help. Book a private or corporate meditation session with us here at THE DAILY MEDITATION today.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison