mental health awareness

Be Mindful About Burnout

Burnout

“I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!” is a famous quote from the movie Network, where the on-air news anchor just can't take the stress anymore. A feeling I’m sure we can all relate to!

It’s a well-known fact, that the workplace can be a hotbed of stress, and that stress can lead to burnout. Deadlines, lack of control, unclear job expectations, bosses, and a dysfunctional environment are work pressures that can all lead to both mental and physical symptoms that, if left unaddressed, can make it difficult to function in day-to-day life. 

Recognizing Burnout

Are you feeling exhausted at the end of your workday? Have you started to hate your job and dread going in? Maybe you have begun to feel as if you are less capable of doing your job? These may all be signs of burnout.

Most of us spend the majority of our days working and when we don't get any satisfaction out of what we're doing, it can take a serious toll. Here are a few “symptoms” that may indicate burnout at work:

  • Stress and frustration

  • Headaches or stomach aches

  • Feeling drained or emotionally exhausted

  • Difficulty concentrating and feeling negative and cynical about work tasks

You can find a more in-depth definition and signs of burnout in this article by Steven Gans MD. 

The Fallout of Burnout

Ignoring the symptoms of job burnout may result in fatigue, insomnia, irritability, high blood pressure, and a lowered immune system. You may even find yourself dealing with your job stress with alcohol, drugs or even food.

Carrying that stress over into your home life can also happen.  Typically, when we’re not happy at our place of work, our relationships tend to suffer as well. As we all well know, ignoring something does not make it go away.

I absolutely love this quote from my friend and colleague Cayce Howe  - which really encapsulates what we can do to move forward through these times. 

Being Mindful

There are many ways of dealing with work pressures. Evaluating a job/career change and seeking support from co-workers, friends or loved ones might help you cope.  Another path that can help is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).  Let’s delve into what MBSR can do for workplace burnout and stress.

These two studies looked directly at whether mindfulness meditation might improve job satisfaction, work-related stress, and anxiety. They used MBSR training, sitting meditation, integration of mindfulness into their daily life, and other mindful tools to teach the participants how to deal with their work pressures. At the end of the trial, participants reported improved focus, “less perceived stress, improved physical and emotional health, enhanced sleep, better health-related habits and behaviors, and more self-compassion. What’s more, they also showed significant declines in blood cortisol levels and systolic and diastolic blood pressure, suggesting that both their minds and bodies were less stressed following the program.”

How It Works

Another study found that mindfulness meditation stimulated areas of the brain that may help control emotional reaction and attention and decreased blood levels of interleukin-6, which is associated with inflammatory disease risk. Through these studies, we have learned that meditation is a simple, scientifically validated exercise for your brain that enables you to put space between you and your emotions.  

All of this is to say that taking the time; through Mindfulness, can help to center and relieve stress and anxiety. We often speak about “having a moment to myself” and that is, at its very core - what mindfulness is. Carving out that time to be calm, present, self-aware and alert can carry over into work & home life, with many strong benefits to your health, career, and relationships.

Please remember you are not alone. There is so much strength in asking for help and working towards the life you want.  As always, if I can be helpful in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out! All of my information can be found here

Teens + Meditation

teens and meditation for mental health

Did you know that May was Mental Health Awareness Month? And May 9th, specifically, was Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day? It’s been a very special month for the mental health community so if you didn’t hear, now you know for next year!

Though I don't work directly with children, I do work with many parents, teaching them behaviors that are often a wonderful model for their kids and teens. I believe that as children grow and mature, their mental health becomes just as important as their physical health. I see this as a consistent theme for my parental clients and something they are challenged with on a daily basis. Let’s face it- Raising kids is hard work and teens have enormously high standards set by society these days; especially with social media being so readily available.

The Facts

Statistics from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America show that around 80% of teens have a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60% of teens with diagnosable depression are not receiving any help at all to deal with these, frequently, crippling conditions. The teen years are often fraught with anxiety and depression in varying degrees. Perhaps it is a phase that they’ll grow out of-However often, it can be something much more serious.

On a daily basis the teenage mind, which is yet to be fully formed- is dealing with grades, homework, sports, extracurricular activities, social interactions with their peers and perhaps even heartache. 1 in 8 of these teens has anxiety or depression that could be diagnosed. Teaching, modeling and supporting your child with coping mechanisms to deal with these stresses that are coming at them from all sides, may be a start towards a healthier mind set (for both of you)!

Meditation

I frequently suggest meditation as a tool for my clients to help with the overwhelm they feel as parents, as I have found it has helped me both personally and professionally in so many ways. Incorporating a meditation practice into my own life has provided me with insight into myself and also helps to set a firm foundation for how I start my day. I enjoy sharing this with my patients and find most are very receptive.  

For example, a colleague of mine, Dr. Monisha Vasa is the Psychiatrist who is referenced here which suggests using meditation as a tool for teens to work through anxiety.  There are meditation apps, classes, coaches and therapists that can give both you and your teen the mental resources you need. The article goes into more detail on these supportive methods; however, I highly recommend reading it for ideas on how to help if you have a teenager who’s struggling.

Joining with your teen and sharing their journey may help to allay the fear and uncertainty they’re feeling about the process of starting a meditation practice. Approaching them in a collaborative, rather than combative way, is a positive step you can take to start. Taking small steps to begin your own meditation routine will also help the beginning of their practice be less arduous and they’ll be less apt to add onto the stress and anxiety they’re already feeling. Setting manageable goals, with leniency when needed, will ease the pressure they are feeling.

Sticking with a consistent meditation practice has the opportunity to bring about many positive shifts for you both. One of the most important, is a closer bond with your child- as you are right there by their side! You and your teen may begin to feel more centered, calm and empathetic towards one another.  And, especially for them, learning how to regulate their emotions at a young age can assist with so many aspects of their future relationships, leading to healthier more fulfilling lives.

Final Inspiration

I found this insightful quote that does a wonderful job of explaining what meditation can help you and your teen. “The goal of meditation is not to get rid of thoughts or emotions. The goal is to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and learn how to move through them without getting stuck.” - Dr. P. Goldin

As always, if I can be helpful in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out! All of my information can be found here.