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Preventing Burnout

Sep 21, 2021

I’ve written previously about developing “mental armor” to handle the pressures and demands of life and work.  The subject came up once again when I saw a Twitter post featuring Gordon Parker, AO (Officer of the Order in Australia), a prominent psychiatrist, who speaks briefly about burnout—what it is and how to prevent it.  Scientia Professor at the University of South Wales, Parker’s research into the symptoms of burnout leads him to promote physical exercise and meditation as two helpful ways to prevent or remedy the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion we know as burnout.

Doing a little further “research,” I learned that while burnout is not recognized as a distinct clinical diagnosis like major depression, the World Health Organization has recognized burnout as an “occupational phenomenon.”  In this context, when stress is excessive and/or chronic, one’s resources become depleted, affecting one’s performance at work—even if, or perhaps intensified by—working from home.

Professor Parker and a colleague, Gabriela Tavella, recently authored an article on burnout published on the ABC News web site, discussing burnout in a broader context than that of work alone.  The authors point out that an event like the pandemic created stress in virtually every context and that while escaping stressors isn’t always possible, there are “…some de-stressing strategies to help curb your burnout symptoms. Things like exercise, meditation and practicing mindfulness are consistently nominated…as most helpful.”

For my own part, I find that challenging physical activities—like climbing mountains—along with meditation, are good preventative medicine and invaluable in maintaining mental clarity and emotional balance.