Where Mindfulness Falls Short

Protecting yourself from burnout at work

It is 9 am. You wake up just in time to switch on your laptop and get to work. A series of meetings lined up await you. The work day was planned for eight hours but it spills over and you are only done well after the sun sets. By the end, you are tired and frustrated. You want to unwind so you pick up your phone, browse mindlessly and catch up on news for a few hours. You don’t even feel like talking to your family. Nothing seems to help you feel relaxed. 

Understanding burnout: According to the WHO, it is a condition understood as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has three main dimensions: feeling of fatigue, negative attitudes towards one’s job/workplace and reduced professional efficiency.

Does this sound familiar? Hundreds of professionals resonate with this experience, more so in the Covid era and consequent work-from-home culture, where work hours have largely stretched with little scope for recreation. Burnout is a well-recognised phenomenon characterised by emotional exhaustion, feeling detached from work and others, and easily getting overwhelmed with a sense of loss of control…

Where Mindfulness Falls Short

Over the last several decades, mindfulness has gone mainstream. To be mindful means to be fully present in the moment, and it is a quality that can be enhanced through a broad set of activities that help us focus more intently on our physical and emotional states in the here and now.

“In many situations, faking a smile is the right choice. But displaying inauthentic emotions takes work, and it often feels bad.”

Christopher Lyddy,  Darren J. Good,  Mark C. Bolino,  Phillip S. Thompson,  and John Paul Stephens

Mindfulness practices such as meditation, breathing exercises, and other techniques can be applied to anything from reducing stress and anxiety to quitting smoking, losing weight, and resolving conflict — and today, they’ve become so popular that more than half of large corporations offer some form of mindfulness training to their employees…

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