In recent years, the burnout syndrome has been one of the most widely discussed mental health problems in modern societies. Managers, employees, and workers in a variety of industries and sectors around the world suffer from work-related stress, fatigue, and exhaustion, the most prominent signs of which are often referred to simply as burnout.
"Some studies report burnout prevalence rates of up to 69%(!) in a given population."
The good news? You can avoid a future burnout, or escape one you’re already in. A burnout is often a simple feedback loop from your body and mind telling your system that you have too much on your plate, so if you are completely overworked, then the rather obvious answer would be to take a step back and reconsider your (professional) commitments. Not always easy to do, but in many cases a necessary step towards a healthier work/life balance.
If, however, you are unable to do this right now or you are not necessarily overworked but rather overstressed and/or fatigued, then consider the following tips to regain control over your own mind and body, and become the best version of yourself.
#1 No-mind meditation habit
People who work with me have probably heard me go on and on about no-mind meditation. It is a very simple yet rather difficult form of meditation. The good news is that beginners can easily learn the basics and then gradually increase the duration of their sessions. Before I tell you how to practice no-mind meditation, first I want to quickly explain why this particular way of meditation is so beneficial not only in escaping a burn out, but also avoiding one.
No-mind meditation is exactly that: A state of relaxation during which there is very little to no noise in your mind. By this I mean: The voice in your head, which is causing all your stress, self-judgements and criticism, can finally be silenced for a while.
Have you noticed how this voice is always present, by the way? From the moment we wake up until we are fast asleep, we always have that voice with us interpreting and judging situations and people, and most importantly ourselves. While it can be a useful tool to make necessary judgements at times, most of the time we don’t need this voice, yet we don’t know how to shut it up.
Think of no-mind meditation as the remote controller to your mind. Using this incredible method, we can start to control the amount of noise we allow in our lives.
“Think of no-mind meditation as the remote controller to your mind.”
How to practice no mind meditation
- Sit comfortably with your spine upright and your eyes closed. Make sure you won’t be interrupted for the duration of the session.
- Take a few moments to relax your body and mind. Take a few deep, comfortable breaths. (5-10)
- Now, with all of your willpower, try to clear your mind completely. This means having no thoughts at all.
Start with 1 second, then 2, 3, 5 seconds. Keep gradually increasing the amount only when you are certain that you are able to have no thoughts during this time. It will probably take you a while to be able to have no thoughts for 5 seconds straight. It could take a few weeks to achieve this! This is completely normal.
Counterintuitively, the harder you try your best, the more difficult it could become. If you feel like you are getting nowhere, take a break and allow yourself to have as many thoughts as you want, without judgement. Stay in a meditative state but allow anything to happen.
When doing no-mind meditation, remember the following. No-mind meditation is NOT:
- Thinking about your breath
- Falling asleep
- Thinking of blackness/darkness
I will go into much more detail in a future blog post specifically about no-mind meditation, but for now these basics can get you started. The good news is that no-mind meditation, especially in the beginning, doesn't take up too much of your time. Start with 5 minute sessions and increase overtime to 10 minutes and more after a few weeks/months.
It will take A LOT of practice to be able to silence your mind completely for 5 minutes straight. Do not expect that to happen after the first few months of practicing. This does not mean that you shouldn't have 5 minute long sessions, however. Start out by setting a timer for 5 minutes and try your best to silence your mind.
Do not worry if you end up daydreaming for the full duration of that session, this will happen. Don't judge yourself for this. Simply bring yourself back to the present moment with a deep breath and try to clear your mind again.
If you would like me to work with you personally for a few minutes to get you started with no-mind meditation, and to identify how often and how long you should practice no-mind meditation personally, you can book a quick call here.
#2 Mindfulness in the workplace
So you experience stress and chaos at work. Maybe you are even in a full-on burnout. A great way to combat this quickly is to learn to become more mindful. Mindful of what exactly? Of your body, your thoughts, your environment, your work, your emotions. I like to teach mindfulness to my clients this way: Imagine you were the main character in a movie or television series about your life. Imagine watching that movie. You can now imagine yourself from a third-person perspective, which makes it easier to be detached from your inner web of emotions, thoughts and feelings. You have now become an observer rather than a thinker. You are a “be-er” rather than a “do-er”.
“Imagine you were the main character in a movie or television series about your life. You have now become an observer rather than a thinker.”
Mindfulness for avoiding a burnout
Again, I will go into much more detail about mindfulness in the future. For now, remember this: Try to be present and aware of yourself first and foremost, without judging. Are you hungry? Good, notice this within yourself. Are you in a bad mood? Good, be aware of that. Are you experiencing stress right now? Feel into the stress without judging. Simply observe it. Can you locate the stress in your physical body? You might be surprised to notice that it simply disappears. If not, at least you are now fully embracing and feeling into your body and mind, that’s already a great first step!
A trick I have for you to remember to be mindful as often as possible, is to take either a rubber band or a marker and put the band around one of your wrists or draw 3 small dots on your wrist. This way, whenever you notice the rubber band or the dots at any given time during the day, you will be gently reminded to take a few deep breaths and to become mindful of yourself and your surroundings.
The 3 dots-method
#3 Be honest with yourself
The third and final tip I have for you to avoid or escape a burnout is to be completely, radically honest with yourself. If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, or busy person in general, take a moment to introspect and ask yourself: Is the workload I assigned to myself too much? Can I really handle all this pressure? If you work for a boss, ask yourself the same questions.
If the answer is yes -remember to be honest- then I would highly recommend to you to communicate this to your boss and to find a suitable solution. If you are an entrepreneur, look to outsource some of your work to others, or expand your team by hiring a new member.
Like I said in the beginning, meditation is a great way to deal with burnouts, but if the root cause of your stressful and tense life is too much workload, then the holistic solution is to take a step back and relieve yourself of some of the daily tasks you are faced with.
I genuinely hope this post helped some of you struggling with these problems. If you have any more questions or feedback, leave a review and/or a comment below. Another great way to escape or avoid a burnout is to jump on a quick call with me for a few minutes, during which we will take a closer look at how meditation can help you to not only get rid of all of your stress, but also become more efficient and productive in the workplace, which means you get more work done and have more time to relax at the end of the day.
Thomas V is the founder and executive coach of Thomas V coaching and has been meditating practically his whole life, although he only got serious around the age of 16. He is a fully certified meditation coach and practitioner. He is now on a mission to get as many people, mainly busy entrepreneurs, to meditate too, and enjoy the endless benefits it provides for body, mind and soul. By applying a science-based approach to meditation, Thomas can ensure amazing results for his clients, time and time again. If you would also like to enjoy the benefits of a well thought-out, science-based meditation habit, feel free to schedule a free video call here.
Recommended for you: How a simple meditation habit can radically transform entrepreneurs for the better